CuratorialFellows © Jabari Owens-Bailey. All rights reserved.


The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA) announces the recipients of the inaugural 2011 – 2012 Curatorial Fellowship

Brooklyn, New York, May 9, 2011 – Today MoCADA is thrilled to announce the inaugural recipients of the museum’s Curatorial Fellowship. The program is made possible through the generous support of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Lambent Foundation, to foster emerging curators of African descent in the curatorial field. From a highly competitive pool of applicants, three participants were selected for the yearlong program, February 2011 – February 2012, to be immersed in the conceptual and practical methods necessary in working as a museum curator. The bios for the three recipients are below:

Zemen Kidane received a B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She recently moved to New York City from the Washington, D.C. area. Her academic focus was on “Third World” media and she wrote her thesis on media’s role in the Eritrean Diaspora in Washington D.C. As an Eritrean person living in Washington, DC, Kidane has a personal and academic passion in this topic. Generally, she is interested in how media and art intersect with the politics and identity of Diasporan people. Kidane recently finished an internship at The National Museum of African Art where she worked in the Education Department organizing artistic performances for the D.C. community.

Isissa Komada-John is a recent graduate of Brown University where she earned a B.A. in Africana Studies. As an Africana Studies scholar, Komada-John is chiefly interested in how queer and Black women artists use creative production to incite community transformation. While at Brown University, she was an active leader in her community, where she organized and facilitated a series of anti-oppression workshops on race, gender, sexuality, class and imperialism. More recently, Komada-John has developed a love for playwriting, and her first play, Out of Bounds, which tackles issues of gender and sexuality during the Black Power movement, has been performed at Rites and Reason Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island, and was recently published in Explosion Proof Magazine. A Brooklyn native, she currently resides in Queens.

Jabari Owens-Bailey is a visual artist and exhibition specialist who hails from Washington, D.C. Owens-Bailey has participated in group shows, served as a technical assistant to several printmaking classes, installed art in museums and private collections, and maintains an active studio practice. He creates work in the media of sculpture, print, installation, and video. His work generally deals with issues of identity and absurdity simultaneously. He received a B.F.A. from Corcoran College of Art + Design in D.C. and an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Art (SVA) in New York City. As an undergraduate, Jabari was selected to study sculpture at the University of Georgia’s semester abroad program in Cortona, Italy.
While in Graduate school at SVA, Jabari worked as an intern for the non-profit gallery, Art in General, which piqued his interest in curatorial practice.

The Fellowship officially got underway on February 7, 2011 and the participants were immediately put to work on their first curatorial project organizing MoCADA’s booth at Verge Art Brooklyn (March 3 – 6, 2011). The exciting event marked the first international art fair in Brooklyn, New York, and the first time MoCADA has been featured as an exhibitor at an art fair. The museum decided to embark on this project as a means of engaging the fellows in their first intensive training in facilitating an off-site exhibition with the museum.

Currently, the Fellows are an integral part of the development of the upcoming exhibitions: From Africa to Brooklyn: From Great to Great (May 26 – June 26, 2011) the Annual Artists in Schools Exhibition organized by Ruby Amanze, the Director of Education; Saying No: Visual Resistance in Indigenous Australian Art (July 21 – October 30, 2011) curated by Kendal Henry; Feed Your Head: The African Origins of Scientific and Mathematic Aesthetics (November 21, 2011 – February 25, 2012) curated by Kalia Brooks the Director of Exhibitions; and the Curatorial Fellowship Culminating Exhibition (November 21, 2011 – February 25, 2012) curated by the 2011-2012 MoCADA Curatorial Fellows.

Along with the research and development of exhibitions and public programs at MoCADA, the Curatorial Fellows are involved in an itinerary of conferences, symposia, artist talks and exhibitions in New York City area that have thus far included: The College Art Association Conference, 2011; The Beauty and the Black Body Symposium, Rutgers-Newark, February 19, 2011; Posing Beauty exhibition, Newark Museum (February 19 – April 24, 2011); The Artist’s Voice: LaToya Ruby Frazier in conversation with Cauleen Smith, The Studio Museum in Harlem, February 24, 2011; Glen Ligon: America, Whitney Museum (March 10 – June 5, 2011); The Now Museum Conference, The New Museum, March 10-13, 2011; Shame the Devil , The Kitchen (March 17 – April 30, 2011); A Proposition by Gabi Ngcobo: The Panafricannial: Towards a Roaming African Biennial, New Museum, March 25, 2011; New York University, Beauty and Fashion: The Black Portrait Symposium, April 1-3, 2011; and the Eighth Annual American Art Symposium, Yale University, April 16, 2011

At each of these visits the Curatorial Fellows are required to write a brief critical response about their experiences. Their entries can be found on the ‘Editorial’ portion of MoCADA’s redesigned website, Additional links to their editorial content can also be found here: and with more syndication in development. In addition, they are MoCADA’s in-house social media butterflies central to updating the museum’s Twitter account,!/mocada_brooklyn and Facebook fan page,

The Curatorial Fellowship is organized by Kalia Brooks, MoCADA’s Director of Exhibitions. The program’s goal is to provide emerging curators with professional training to become socially, politically and aesthetically well informed, productive contributors to the museum field, and the field of art at large. We are looking forward to keeping up the momentum on their already impressive schedule, as well as informing our audience of the groundbreaking initiatives the fellows are involved with. Please join MoCADA in welcoming the 2011 – 2012 Curatorial Fellows by visiting the museum and participating in the lively dialogues they are generating through the museum’s social media and website!