Q&A with New Curator of Contemporary Art

/ Interviews - Staff Updates

In November 2018, Hallie Ringle joined the BMA as the new Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art. Coming to us from the Studio Museum in New York, Hallie has extensive experience working with artists and has organized numerous contemporary art exhibitions. She looks forward to facilitating conversations, strengthening the contemporary art collection, and sharing stories through the works in the BMA’s collection.

After being at the Studio Museum in Harlem for several years, what drew you to Birmingham and the BMA?

Hallie Ringle: I’m interested in a museum being embedded in a southern city and its relationship to its local audience. I was interested in Birmingham because I feel like it’s a very creative city and people are excited about engaging with artists. They are open to more creative possibilities.

You produced a number of projects at the Studio Museum; how does that experience shape your vision for the future of the BMA’s contemporary collection?

HR: I really enjoyed working with living artists at the Studio Museum and seeing their practices evolve over time. That really shaped my curatorial work, so in Birmingham I would like to make the contemporary exhibitions more artist centered and engage with them in new and exciting ways. I also learned to program in unusual spaces from a library to a park and even in a hallway, so I plan to think about different spaces that the Museum can be present in Birmingham.

As a contemporary curator, you often have opportunities to meet with emerging and established artists. Can you share a moment that stands out in your memory?

HR: Two years ago, I was lucky enough to go to South Africa with artists Ebony Patterson, Jordan Casteel, Rashaad Newsome, Noel Anderson, and curators Lauren Haynes, Amanda Hunt, and Adeze Wilford. I enjoyed seeing a new country through a variety of creative perspectives and it was one of the highlights of my time at the Studio Museum. It’s hard to boil it down to a single experience because I learned that artists become your friends and you move to a deeper relationship beyond just collegial. I really value those relationships.

What excites you about the BMA’s contemporary art collection?

HR: I love that the Museum thinks about collecting as a form of support and it has multiple examples by many artists. It collects in both breadth and depth. I look forward to continuing that support. I’m also excited to show some objects that haven’t been on view in a while when the Pizitz Gallery is re-installed in the spring.

What has surprised you about the BMA or Birmingham so far?

HR: The conversations that are happening here have surprised me. I’ve been lucky to be part of the Jefferson County Memorial Project, which works to retrieve from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice the monument that memorializes the African American victims of lynchings that took place in Jefferson County. I’m watching what is happening with the city, and it all feels very radical and exciting.