Zoe in <100 words
I work at Tate Modern as a Curator, International Art. I was previously a Research Curator and held dual roles of Curator, Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain and Curator, International Art at Tate Modern from 2013-2015. I completed my PhD in 2018.
I work with contemporary artists, museums and students. When I come across a work of art that excites me, I want to share it with anyone who will listen. I curate exhibitions, write books and lecture on art and design of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Zoe's professional life to date in a few more words
I have loved museums ever since my very first school field trip. I was the kid holding up the group by reading every label on every object - but not yet wondering who wrote those labels or how it was possible to do so for a living. That came later when a J. Paul Getty grant and a Mellon Fellowship made it possible for me to spend the summer of my sophomore year of undergrad researching costume and textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). A dynamic, generous and knowledgable group of women taught me what it meant to be a curator and encouraged me to pursue post-graduate study.
I’d been lucky enough to study both art history and studio art in high school, where my enthusiasm for the former was obvious and my ambition* for the latter was equally apparent. I stuck with art history through my BA at Swarthmore College and earned an MA in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art in London. I researched black representation in fashion magazines, often in the absence of actual black fashion models, from the sublime (lighting, mood and postures) to the ridiculous (wigs and body paint). My research garnered some attention because it came out around the same time as Vogue Italia’s Black Issue. I found it exciting to see how theory and practice could co-exist.
While studying at the RCA, I began shelving books on the weekends at the National Art Library in the V&A. I was later hired as an assistant curator in the V&A’s prints section where I focused on 20th century propaganda posters and contemporary works on paper. It was during my time working with the V&A prints collection in 2003 that I was first introduced to the work of graphic artist Paul Peter Piech. My monograph of the artist’s life and work is published by Four Corners Books.
From December 2005 to February 2013, I was a curator in the V&A’s now defunct Contemporary Programmes, organising temporary exhibitions and overseeing the 2012 Friday Late with MasterCard series of public events.
In October 2013, I became Curator, Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain on a part-time basis. For the two calendar years 2014 and 2015, I also held the dual role of Curator, International Art at Tate Modern, where my focus was (and remains, in part) contemporary African art.
I’m a lifelong student and I’ll talk your ear off if you give me half a chance. I completed my doctoral research at University of Central Lancashire. Supervised by artist-curator Professor Lubaina Himid MBE, I’m interested in how artists - particularly across the African Diaspora - experience art museums. My professional curiosity is led by artists and the wondrous things they make.
*At sixteen I stretched my own oversized canvas for my first ever studio art painting assignment. I decided I’d capture the scene from the Brazilian film Black Orpheus (1959) where doomed lovers Orfeu and Eurydice plummet to their deaths. The less said about the resulting acrylic painting, the better. Its whereabouts are mercifully unknown.