Yesomi Umolu (Nigeria/UK) is a Chicago-based curator and writer. Umolu oversees exhibitions in the Logan Center Gallery and other spaces throughout the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. She also serves as Lecturer in the Humanities Division. Specializing in global contemporary art, with a focus on experimental film/video and spatial practices, Umolu has presented exhibitions, commissions and public programs by Ibrahim Mahama, Otobong Nkanga, John Akomfrah, Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares, Mithu Sen, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Minouk Lim, Sharon Hayes, and Eyal Weizman, among others.
Umolu was previously Assistant Curator at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. At the Broad MSU, she curated the international group exhibition Material Effects (2015), Christopher Cozier: Entanglements (2015) and John Akomfrah: Imaginary Possessions (2014), the first U.S. museum exhibition dedicated exclusively to the recent work of British filmmaker John Akomfrah. Her other curatorial projects include The Land Grant: Forest Law (2014), a newly commissioned research and film project by Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares, Emeka Ogboh: Àlà (2013) and Revelations: Examining Democracy (2013) featuring works from the Broad MSU collection. She acted as coordinating curator for the Broad MSU presentation of MCA Denver’s Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art (2013) and SFMOMA’s Lebbeus Woods, Architect (2013).
Umolu served as Curatorial Fellow for Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis where she curated The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal (2013) featuring the work of London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, and for which she co-edited the volume Non Participation: Acts of Definition and Redefinition. She also worked on exhibitions such as Abraham Cruzvillegas: The Autoconstrucción Suites (2013), Minouk Lim: Heat of Shadows (2012), The Living Years: Art after 1989 (2012) and Lifelike (2012).
Prior to joining the Walker, Umolu held curatorial positions at the european biennial of contemporary Art Manifesta 8, region of Murcia, Spain and the Serpentine Gallery, London. She has also contributed to programming at Iniva and Tate Modern, London.
Umolu’s exhibitions and projects have received grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Harpo Foundation, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the British Council, the Swiss arts council Pro Helvetia and The Royal Norwegian Embassy.
She has been a visiting lecturer, critic and speaker at a number of international universities including Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London; Goldsmiths, University of London; Jagiellonian University, Krakow; and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, among others.
Her writing has appeared in numerous catalogs and journals, including Art in America, Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism and the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Studio magazine.
Umolu received an MA with honors in Architectural Design from the University of Edinburgh and an MA with Distinction in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London.
Photo: Courtesy Trumpie Photography