Critical Conversations Lecture: Rashida Bumbray

June 06, 2023

Headshot of Rashida Bumbray
Thursday, June 22, 6:00 pm  
Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) 
511 NW Broadway, Portland, OR
Free and Open to the Public

Rashida Bumbray is a curator and choreographer. In 2022, she organized Loophole of Retreat: Venice, a transnational gathering focused on Black women’s intellectual and creative labor as part of Simone Leigh’s exhibition Sovereignty at the American Pavilion for the 59th Venice Biennale. 

Bumbray began her curatorial career in 2001 at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, where she coordinated major exhibitions including Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction 1964–1984 with Kellie Jones. As associate curator at The Kitchen, Bumbray organized critically acclaimed commissions and exhibitions including first New York solo exhibitions for many artists, including Simone Leigh, Leslie Hewitt, Adam Pendleton, Lauren Kelley, Jamal Cyrus, and Elodie Pong. She also commissioned new performance works by Kyle Abraham, Camille A. Brown, Derrick Adams, and Kalup Linzy, among many others. Bumbray was guest curator of Creative Time’s public art exhibition Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn in 2014. Most recently, as Director of Culture and Art at the Open Society Foundations, Bumbray spearheaded the development of the foundations’ first global program dedicated to advancing diverse artistic practices and strengthening locally led cultural spaces around the world. Under her leadership, Open Society Foundations became one of the leading arts funders focused on the Global South and supporting socially engaged artists and cultural producers in diverse disciplines. Bumbray is also a Bessie-nominated choreographer whose practice draws from traditional African American vernacular and folk forms. 

She is a 2019 United States Artist Fellow and an Inaugural Civic Practice Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her performances have been presented by Tate Modern, London; the New Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harlem Stage, Dancing While Black, and SummerStage, all in New York; and Project Row Houses, Houston. Her work Run Mary Run was named among the New York Times’s best performances of 2012 and is featured in Common’s short film Black America Again (2016), directed by Bradford Young. In 2015, Bumbray was nominated for the ICI Curatorial Vision Award. And in 2018, she was honored among women leaders by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received the Alchemist Award for Socially Engaged Art from A Blade of Grass. A graduate of Oberlin College, Bumbray also has an MA in Africana Studies from New York University. Her writing on contemporary art, cultural studies, and comparative literature is published in journals and exhibition catalogs.

Critical Conversations

Critical Conversations provides a space for artists and cultural producers that is rooted in exchange and inquiry. Organizing partners facilitate a year-round calendar of studio visits for Oregon artists by prominent visiting curators and arts writers, who also offer public lectures and other forms of engagement to our community. Recognizing the nexus between artists and those who reflect upon and present their work, Critical Conversations also sponsors a series of convenings, commissioned writing, and an annual publication that specifically engage Oregon’s curators and arts writers around currents in society and the field.  Critical Conversations is a collaboration between The Ford Family Foundation and the University of Oregon's Center for Art Research in partnership with the Pacific Northwest College of Art at Willamette University, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University, and the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College.