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Terry Smith in Conversation with Mary Jane Jacob

Sun, Nov 18, 2012

Terry Smith

Terry Smith
Photo by John Williamson

Renowned art historian and critic Terry Smith discusses his book, Thinking Contemporary Curating, with Mary Jane Jacob, Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thinking Contemporary Curating is the first book to offer an in-depth analysis of the volatile territory of international curatorial practice and the thinking—or insight—that underpins it. In five essays, Smith describes how today curators take on roles far beyond exhibition making, to include reimagining museums; writing the history of curating; creating discursive platforms and undertaking social or political activism, as well as rethinking spectatorship. A book signing follows their conversation.


Terry Smith is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. His major research interests include global contemporary art; the histories of multiple modernities and modernisms; the history and theory of contemporaneity; and the historiography of art history and art criticism. Among Smith’s most recent publications is What is Contemporary Art? (2009), which won the College Art Association’s Mather Award for the best book of art criticism published in 2010.

Mary Jane Jacob is a curator and author noted for her work on the national and international art scene. Recent anthologies, for which she is co-editor, are Learning Mind: Experience Into Art (University of California Press, Fall 2009), The Studio Reader (University of Chicago Press, Spring 2010), and Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society (University of Chicago Press, 2012). She is currently the Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibitions Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jacob received a BFA from the University of Florida, Gainesville. After study in Florence, Italy, she attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she received an M.A. in History of Art and Museum Studies. Jacob received the first Curator’s Grant from the Peter Norton Family Foundation, and is also a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts; Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio Study Center Residency; The School of the Art Institute’s Roger Brown Residency; and Getty Residency Program at Bard College, New York. At the 2010 College Art Association conference, she was awarded the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award and the Award for Achievement in the Field of Public Art from Public Art Dialogue. In 2011 she was honored by the women’s leadership organization ArtTable as one of the key influential women in the field of visual arts in the US. In 2012 Jacob was awarded a Warhol Foundation Curatorial Research Fellowship for an upcoming major exhibition on Chicago Social Practice.