Lowery Stokes Sims

Lowery Stokes Sims

2022 Honorary Fellow
Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2022. This article appears in the Fall 2022 issue of American Craft Magazine.
portrait of lowery stokes sims

Photo by Emily Johnston for Artsy.

Lowery Stokes Sims
Baltimore, Maryland

Lowery Stokes Sims, an art historian and curator of contemporary art and craft, has focused her expertise on the work of African, African American, Latinx, Native, and Asian American artists, resulting in exhibitions and writings that have contributed fresh insights and critical scholarship to the craft field. Through her lenses of the Black Arts Movement, feminist art movement, and politics of postmodernism, Sims has fostered diversification and opportunity for underrepresented artists.

In 1972, after earning an MA in art history at Johns Hopkins, Sims, 73, found herself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, “wondering how to make an impact,” she recalls. As part of the education and curatorial staff for 27 years, and the museum’s first African American curator, she made sure “artists of color and overlooked white artists were represented in the museum’s collection.”

“I realized, then, that my cohort and I were way ahead of things.”
—Lowery Stokes Sims

Sims has been executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem and chief curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, lectured internationally and published extensively, received numerous public appointments, and was featured in the 2010 documentary film !Women Art Revolution. Additionally, she has been a guest curator at institutions such as the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York; the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; and the Craft Contemporary museum in Los Angeles. She was the 2021–2022 Kress-Beinecke Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Sims received her PhD in art history in 1995 from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York for her dissertation on Wifredo Lam and holds numerous honorary doctoral degrees, awards in art criticism, and visiting and distinguished professorships. Her early scholarship precedes her. “I’ve been getting requests from younger curators to reproduce writing I did decades ago,” she says with a laugh. “I thought, wait a minute! Hasn’t anybody covered this material before? They said no. I realized, then, that my cohort and I were way ahead of things. It’s so gratifying to know you’ve written something that has relevance today.”

Read bio/view work images | @lowerysims

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