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Cleveland Museum of Art Promotes Key Jo Lee to Associate Curator: ‘It has been an honor and a joy to witness Key Jo’s evolution as a museum professional’

THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART (CMA) rises Key Jo Lee Associate Curator of American Art. The news was announced on January 18.

Lee joined CMA in 2017 as Deputy Director of Academic Affairs. In 2021, she was appointed Director of Academic Affairs and Associate Commissioner of Special Projects. His latest promotion is effective July 1.

“It was an honor and a joy to witness Key Jo’s growth as a museum professional. His ideas are vivid, his writing eloquent and his ambitions admirable,” CMA Director William Griswold said in a statement.

“She has already made a wonderful addition to our team of curators and I am delighted that she is fully dedicated to curatorial work at the CMA. I look forward to his future exhibitions, his interpretive work in galleries and his acquisitions.

“It was an honor and a joy to witness Key Jo’s growth as a museum professional. His ideas are lively, his writing eloquent and his ambitions admirable.
— William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art

Prior to joining CMA, Lee was the Rose Herrick Jackson Curatorial Fellow in American Art at Yale University Art Gallery. Last year she co-hosted “Something to say” with artist Felandus Thames. Featuring works by 10 black Southern artists, the exhibition was presented at Myrtis Gallery, a black-owned gallery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Lee holds a BA in Art History from Douglass College, Rutgers University (2009) and an MA in Art History and African American Studies from Yale University (2013) . Lee is currently pursuing a doctorate at Yale. His thesis is entitled “Precarious Matter(s): Blackness, Nineteenth-Century Photography, and Contemporary Art”.

At the CMA, the inaugural exhibition of Lee, “Currents and constellations: black art in focus”, opens February 20. The exhibition highlights works by black artists from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

In a statement about his new role, Lee said, “I look forward to telling new stories through the museum’s collection of American art, continuing to work with museum colleagues and other communities, reinventing the way the CMA presents the works in its care and to acquire objects that diversify the collections of the museum in such a way as to deepen and expand the collection. CT

PHOTO: Kay Lee Jo. | Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art

To be published in June, “Perceptual Drift: Black Art and an Ethics of the Gaze”, accompanies “Currents & Constellations: Black Art in Focus”, the first exhibition that Key Jo Lee organizes at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The volume includes an introduction and essay by Lee and features poetry by Robin Coste Lewis, among other textual contributions.

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