Asha Iman Veal is the curatorial fellow at Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), and a democracy fellow with the Alfred Landecker Foundation and Humanity in Action. She is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Arts Administration & Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work advocates cross-cultural solidarity across communities kept apart due to geographic and political distance.
In 2019, Asha Iman was curator for The Tokyo Show: Black & Brown Are Beautiful (Hyde Park Art Center) and Preview 9: A Boldness to Dare and Try (Chicago Artists Coalition). She has recently juried for Arts + Public Life and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago; 3Arts; OxBow; and ACRE. Asha formerly served on the Exhibitions and Residency team at the Hyde Park Art Center, and was an Associate Festival Producer for playwright Eve Ensler’s V-Day global movement to end violence against women and girls (New York). Her background includes researching arts organization models and contemporary projects, touring arts ecologies and/or working in Chicago, Tokyo, Edinburgh, Havana, Vietnam, Juárez, New York, and more. Asha is a member of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network (Germany/Global Table), advocating the reciprocal benefits to bringing artists and arts organizers into centers of innovation and policy formation. She formerly served on the BLab/BCorps Inclusive Economies Work Group (Canada/U.S.) as a voice for nonprofit arts and education. Asha was on the membership committee at Chicago's Experimental Sound Studio.
(B.A. New York University, M.F.A. The New School, M.A. School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
A full curriculum vitae (updated January 2021) details her professional history and accomplishments.
A very condensed résumé of curatorial and arts programming, is available via LinkedIn.
As an arts professor, I focus on curatorial theory as well as how art and cultural production serve as forms of advocacy and public discourse.
Through artistic collaborations, my work advocates cross-cultural solidarity across communities that are often kept apart by geographic or political distance.
The following questions drive my practice and stay on my mind: How does curatorial practice function as a form of social and political engagement? How does curatorial practice create moments of possibility and engage the public? How can curatorial practice be used as a strategy in advocating and modeling artistic pedagogies of leadership?
Most often my projects focus on cross-cultural dialogues across global space and include personal and collective tools of eloquent disruptions to spatial imaginaries based on race.
I additionally study various contemporary projects and arts organization models.
I am a creative writer, and completed an MFA in creative nonfiction.
I studied contemporary literary and narrative practices formally for many years, seeking textual yet creative examples that deepen the understanding of contemporary multiculturalism.
Most often my own work is in memoir and/or character-driven fiction, and is very attached to place. I love collaborative publication projects and am always excited to work on something new.
My projects The Places We’ve Been (2013) and Brooklyn (the black) (2015), presented in the U.S. and U.K. and have been acquired by special collections libraries, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Here's a full narrative of my career history, The Illustrated Story of How I Cut My Teeth, OR a direct jump to the most recent years of my work dedicated to visual contemporary.
Here's my faculty page at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I was recently granted an Excellence in Teaching Award.
Plus a direct link to see the independent, start-up arts and humanities project The Places We've Been that I launched in 2011 and led through 2015.
In 2017, I hosted the late curator Bisi Silva for a lecture and visit to School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Bisi shared this insight that helped me to reflect on and contextualize my path and career.
What else? I was born and raised in Northern California, and trained there, in New York, and in Chicago.
I've spent the past 15+ years exploring the arts as a field of public discourse that's capable to reimagine and propose new frameworks.
I am passionate about engaging a multidisciplinary community of my peers within and outside the arts field.
It is my strongest belief and experience that power of an arts education is fierce across settings, as a dynamic skillset for leadership.