Curating a practice with the Whitney-Lauder Fellowship

The Fellowship has supported curators for over two decades; its impact continues at the ICA and beyond.

“You’re always working in a community, and that makes you think differently about things.”

Daniella Rose King would know: As the Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), her inaugural curatorial project involved not one but four different artists and a variety of works. The resulting 2018 exhibition, “The Last Place They Thought Of,” explored how geography, ideology, and space determine and reproduce uneven social relations. “I’d been thinking in broad strokes about questions of climate change,” says King, “and the theory that the moment of contact between European settlers and the genocide of indigenous Americans had an atmospheric, climatic impact.”

Pictures hanging on the wall at the “The Last Place They Thought Of” exhibit.
“The Last Place They Thought Of” included works by Torkwase Dyson, Lorraine O’Grady, Jade Montserrat, and Keisha Scarville. (Image: Courtesy of Penn Inspiring Impact)

Being a curator, those thoughts naturally led to another: “I thought, ‘How do you tell that story through an exhibition?’”

Started in 2000 thanks to a gift from Leonard A. Lauder, the Fellowship has linked the ICA and the Whitney Museum of American Art for over two decades, offering professional experience and a two-year tenure for curatorial alumni of the Whitney Independent Study Program.

“This was such a prestigious opportunity,” says King. “It’s been an avenue that has cultivated lots of experimentation and support for ideas and for going into new, unknown spaces with one’s curatorial practice.”

Sargasso Sea,” King’s third and final curatorial project with the ICA, employs elements similar to her second curatorial project, “An Unlikely Birth,” which presented an exhibition of synthetic and living works by Jamaican artist Deborah Anzinger. “Sargasso Sea: Dominique White and Alberta Whittle” is on view now at ICA through June 2. features works by Dominique White and Alberta Whittle and borrows its name from the only body of water defined by oceanic currents rather than shorelines. These currents have shaped colonial expansion, trade, and trafficking and increasingly have become the bearers of environmental devastation, tumult, and migration.

This story is by Helen Walsh. Read more at Inspiring Impact’s Knowledge for Good.