15 Women Curators to Know in Arizona

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It’s still Women’s History month, so as you’re (safely) flocking to Arizona art museums, keep in mind the many ways women are making local art spaces more intriguing and accessible. Here’s a rundown of 15 female museum curators around the state to help you get a feel for the interests and experience that inform their work.

Janet Baker is the curator of Asian art at Phoenix Art Museum.EXPAND

Janet Baker is the curator of Asian art at Phoenix Art Museum.

Phoenix Art Museum

Janet Baker joined Phoenix Art Museum in 2000 after serving as curator of Asian art at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, California. She holds a Ph.D. in Chinese art history from the University of Kansas. Baker has curated exhibitions on the subjects of samurai armor, the art of Islam, photographs of Tibet, love and death in Chinese paintings, and sculptural works by contemporary artist Ai Weiwei.

Mary-Beth Buesgen has curated a number of shows for the ASU Art Museum, focusing on the permanent collection and Susan Peterson Archive. She has worked with university collections and archives for more than two decades. Buesgen is a ceramic artist and metal worker whose academic background includes an M.S. in graphic information technology and a certificate in museum studies. Most recently, she curated “DinnerWhere,” which is currently on view at the Ceramics Research Center.

Laura Copelin was named chief curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson in early 2020, where she also served for a time as interim director for the museum. Before coming to Tucson, Copelin served as curator-at-large for Ballroom Marfa in Texas and an assistant curator at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California. Her areas of expertise include arts and culture along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Brittany Corrales is a curator for ASU Art Museum.EXPAND

Brittany Corrales is a curator for ASU Art Museum.

ASU Art Museum

Brittany Corrales, who holds an M.A. in art history from ASU, oversees the Jules Heller Print Study Room and print collection at ASU Art Museum, where she previously served as a Windgate Curatorial Fellow. Her research interests include works on paper, feminist art, and architecture and design. Corrales has also worked for the Center for Creative Photography, Phoenix Art Museum, and the Skystone Foundation. She participated in the emerging curator initiative for Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art.

Chief curator Tiffany Fairall with a previous exhibit inside one of several museum galleries.EXPAND

Chief curator Tiffany Fairall with a previous exhibit inside one of several museum galleries.

Mesa Arts Center

Tiffany Fairall became the chief curator at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in March 2019, where previous roles included curator for exhibitions and associate curator for the museum. Her interests, including popular culture and social commentary, have been reflected in exhibitions addressing themes from tattoo culture to jazz music. Fairall proposed and oversaw the installation of El Mac’s 35-foot-tall Desert Rose (Nuevas Generaciones) mural on the exterior of the museum’s elevator shaft. She holds an M.A. and B.A. in art history, as well as a B.F.A. in graphic design from ASU.

Helen Jean is the curator of fashion design at Phoenix Art Museum.

Helen Jean is the curator of fashion design at Phoenix Art Museum.

Phoenix Art Museum

Helen Jean was named the curator of fashion design in 2020, and served as the museum’s curatorial assistant in fashion design from 2007 to 2012, a role that included researching new acquisitions and helping to develop and install numerous exhibits. Her prior experience also includes teaching at the Art Institute of Phoenix. The first major exhibit Jean curated for Phoenix Art Museum was “India: Fashion’s Muse.”

Erin Joyce is the fine arts curator at Heard Museum.

Erin Joyce is the fine arts curator at Heard Museum.

Heard Museum

Erin Joyce became the fine arts curator at the Heard Museum in 2017. She holds an M.A. in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in the history of art from the University of North Texas, and studied contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Joyce has organized and co-curated more than 30 exhibitions around the U.S. In recent years, she has curated exhibits featuring contemporary artists Nicholas Galanin and Maria Hupfield.

Tricia Loscher is the assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at SMoW in Scottsdale.EXPAND

Tricia Loscher is the assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at SMoW in Scottsdale.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Tricia Loscher has curated exhibits for Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Spirit of the West including shows highlighting Hopi ceramics, Cowboy Artists of America, and historic paintings by the Taos Society of Artists. She previously served as a curator and program director for Heard Museum North in Scottsdale. Loscher is currently co-organizing two exhibitions of photographs by Edward S. Curtis. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, and an M.A. and B.A. from Arizona State University.

Jennifer McCabe is the director and chief curator for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.EXPAND

Jennifer McCabe is the director and chief curator for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Scottsdale Arts

Jennifer McCabe’s curatorial practice explores intersectional feminisms, site-responsive commissions, and artistic interventions. Her work for SMoCA has covered topics including fashion and video art. McCabe previously served as director and chief curator for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. She is a faculty associate in art history at ASU, and has taught modern and contemporary art at Mills College and San Francisco State University.

Olivia Miller is the curator of exhibitions for University of Arizona Museum of Art.EXPAND

Olivia Miller is the curator of exhibitions for University of Arizona Museum of Art.

University of Arizona Art Museum

Olivia Miller has been curating and co-curating shows at the museum since 2012. She has taught art in several settings, including the Arizona State Prison Complex. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in art history, she is writing her dissertation on the C. Leonard Pfeiffer Collection, which is the museum’s founding collection of American art of the 1920s to the 1940s. Her prior experience includes teaching high school and college art history, and working with several nonprofits in Arizona and Oregon.

Jillian Nakornthap curates exhibitions for Chandler Museum and Vision Gallery. She has curated exhibitions on decolonization, boxing, and urban landscapes. She has previously worked at Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C., as well as art museums in Bakersfield and Long Beach, California. Nakornthap holds an M.A. in exhibition design from California State University and a B.A. in art history from the University of California.

Lauren R. O'Connell is the curator of contemporary art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.EXPAND

Lauren R. O’Connell is the curator of contemporary art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Scottsdale Arts

Lauren R. O’Connell’s curatorial practice focuses on promoting inclusion through elevating under-recognized histories and facilitating new artworks. She has worked on retrospective exhibits on modern and contemporary artists, and is currently working on a retrospective and catalog about painter Dorothy Fratt. O’Connell has held curatorial positions at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and UC Berkeley Art Museum, and holds an M.A. in curatorial practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Diana Pardue’s curatorial practice is focused on historic and contemporary Native American arts. In 2009, she received the Curatorial Excellence Award from the Apple Valley Foundation in California. Pardue has written or co-written several exhibition publications, highlighting artists such as Richard I. Chavez, Awa Tsireh, Fred Harvey, Yazzie Johnson, and Gail Bird. She holds an M.A. from ASU.

Colette Pecenka is the curator of exhibitions and education at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.EXPAND

Colette Pecenka is the curator of exhibitions and education at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.

Mesa Arts Center

Colette Pecenka was appointed the curator of exhibitions and education at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in April 2019. Prior roles include coordinator for a Mayo Clinic humanities in medicine program and arts specialist for the Phoenix Airport Museum, where she worked on exhibits, public art installations, and special projects for more than two dozen spaces. Pecenka holds a B.A. in ceramics and an M.Ed. from ASU.

Julie Sasse is the chief curator for Tucson Museum of Art.EXPAND

Julie Sasse is the chief curator for Tucson Museum of Art.

Tucson Museum of Art

Julie Sasse is also the curator of modern and contemporary art for the Tucson Museum of Art, where she recently curated an exhibition about the art and legacy of Elaine Horwitch. She has organized more than 100 exhibitions since joining the museum in 2000, and authored more than 40 art books, exhibit catalogs, and essays. Sasse is a 2016 Women’s International Study Center fellow. She holds an M.F.A. and M.A. in art history from ASU, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. 

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