Former Walker curator-at-large Adrienne Edwards will co-curate the 2021 Whitney Biennial. Edwards left the Walker in 2018 to become the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance. She will work with another Whitney staffer, David Breslin, the DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives.
“[David and Adrienne] are inquisitive, curious, and are acutely attuned to the art of the current moment,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, in a press statement. “No doubt they will bring fresh outlooks to this historic exhibition and reinvent it for these complex and challenging times.”
Edwards, who specializes in artists of the African Diaspora and the Global South, was the Walker Art Center’s curator-at-large from 2016-2018. While at the Walker, she curated the jazz musician/artist Jason Moran’s first solo show, which also included two multimedia concerts with his band, the Bandwagon. It also traveled to the Wexner Art Center in Columbus, Ohio, and is currently on view at the Whitney Museum. She also co-curated the Walker's current permanent collection exhibition “I am you, you are too,” which will remain on view through March 1, 2020.
"The Walker was the perfect institution at the perfect time in my career," Edwards said. "It was an incredibly special place – it was a laboratory. Nothing was too experimental or too out of bounds to do, and it was always about how to get something done to make the artist’s vision possible."
The 2019 Whitney Biennial faced controversy this past year, with nine artists pulling out of the exhibition in protest over board member Warren B. Kanders, whose company SafariLand manufactures tear gas canisters and other weapons used by the military and law enforcement. One of those artists was Nicholas Galanin, who has a solo exhibition on view at Macalester College's Law Warschaw Gallery.
When asked if she was thinking about this while preparing her curating, Edwards said, “If we've learned anything, it's that we are a public square in a way we hadn't thought about ourselves in the past."
The former Walker curator-at-large will be on the road soon, visiting artists across the country. When asked if there were any Minneapolis artists she was thinking about it, she commented that it was too soon to say, but she's eager to get back for a visit.