Lauren Ross is Curator of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. As the inaugural curator, Ross will play a key role in defining and establishing the cutting-edge programming of this new institution opening in 2017.
Ross has a track record of launching start-up programing as well as contributing to beloved art institutions with long histories. She has 20 years of experience as a curator, administrator, writer and teacher, with a focus on championing the work of emerging to mid-career visual artists.
From 2011 to 2014, Ross served as Nancy E. Meinig Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As Philbrook’s first fulltime modern and contemporary curator, she was instrumental in raising the profile of new and recent art in the museum’s exhibition program and permanent collection. Additionally, she was a member of the strategic planning team preparing for the opening of the museum’s satellite space, Philbrook Downtown. Ross steered many new acquisitions for Philbrook’s permanent collection, by such artists as Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Gary Simmons, Louise Lawler, Rachel Whiteread, Theaster Gates, and Jeffrey Gibson. Among the exhibitions she curated at Philbrook were the group exhibitions Fever & Flash: Pop in the 1970s and Remainder, which examined the work by up-and-coming female sculptors; as well as a solo exhibition of the work of Nir Evron.
Prior to 2011, Ross was based in New York City. Most recently, she was Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Curator and Director of Arts Programs at Friends of the High Line in New York City. As the inaugural curator for the High Line, Ross helped to craft and launch the celebrated park’s public art program. During her two-year tenure, she commissioned site-specific projects by nine artists, including Sarah Sze, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Julianne Swartz, and Demetrius Oliver. The U.S. Section of the International Association of Art Critics twice recognized her work on the High Line with the award of First Prize, Best Show in a Public Space.
In 2008-09, Ross held a six-month appointment as Interim Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Despite the short tenure, she curated Reflections on the Electric Mirror: New Feminist Video and Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found, exhibitions that received high praise from The New York Times, Time Out New York, and Art in America, among other publications.
Ross served on the staff of the venerated alternative art space White Columns for seven years, including as its director/chief curator from 2001 to 2004. While there, she curated more than a dozen group exhibitions and 30 solo “White Room” presentations. Among her accomplishments as director were increasing staff size and dramatically improving fundraising during an economic downturn when many other nonprofits were making deep cuts to staff and budgets.
As a writer, Ross has contributed to exhibition catalogs published by Dallas Museum of Art, White Columns, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as to such periodicals as The Art Newspaper, Art in America, The Brooklyn Rail, and Museo.
Ross has extensive experience in developing educational programming for a broad range of audiences, from general to academic. She has taught at the School of Visual Arts, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Whitney Museum. While a graduate teaching fellow at the Whitney, she developed and taught a lecture series for upper-level museum members.
Ross did graduate work at the City University of New York, at The Graduate Center and Hunter College, where she earned her M.A. in Art History. She also holds a B.A. in Art History from Cornell University.