Samek Museum to host lecture featuring Lowery Stokes Sims

LEWISBURG – As part of its Distinguished Art Lecture series, the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University will welcome curator and art historian Lowery Stokes Sims at 6 p.m. April 21, in Sims’ first visit to the museum.

Sims is a figure who is, in every sense of the word, distinguished in her field. Holding a doctorate degree in art history from the City University of New York, Sims has specialized in writing about the works of Afro-Cuban Chinese Surrealist artists, Wilfredo Lam in particular. Her work as a curator, however, has been wide-ranging, according to Samek public programs and outreach manager Greg Stuart.

“Most notably, (Sims) was the former director, then president, of the Studio Museum in Harlem and in the curatorial and education departments of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” Stuart said. “She was the chief curator at the Museum of Art and Design in New York and has recently retired and is currently serving as curator emerita at the museum.”

Sims will speak about a lifetime spent working with contemporary artists on her exhibitions – as opposed to curating historical exhibitions, where the artist is deceased – and what she has learned from them. Specifically, she will be talking about how their practices have informed her work in opening up the art world to a more global perspective. The lecture does not tie in specifically to any current or future exhibitions, but Stuart said that it fits well with the museum’s special exhibitions of art that are often “global and contemporary in focus.”

Stuart said that Sims’ lecture is a timely one; as an African America woman, she has a unique perspective on the issues of racial and gender inequality that are so prevalent right now.

“It’s not just her professional focus on diversity that’s important for this talk, it’s also her identity as an African American woman working in a field that for years has been dominated by white men,” Stuart added. “The exhibitions she’s curated touch on so many current issues related to the Black Lives Matter movement and our country’s discourse on immigration, for instance. It’s the right time to be having this conversation, and art can help us to understand these issues better. I hope that our audiences feel empowered to have these difficult conversations and to see how art touches on a lot of these same issues.”

This is the second lecture in the series hosted by the Samek, Stuart said, which looks for “speakers at the top of their respective fields, who are able to raise the bar a bit for us in terms of their breadth of experience.”

“We’re very excited to have Sims here, given how successful and game-changing her work has been in opening up the canon of art history to more diverse artists,” Stuart said. “Also, the subject of her work offers a nice complementary balance to last year’s Samek Distinguished Lecture by John Wilmerding. His talk was equally inspiring, but his curatorial career has focused more on historical works by American artists.”

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