Ryan N. Dennis has been appointed the role of Senior Curator and Director of Public Art at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Before the appointment becomes effective in June 2023, Dennis is currently the Chief Curator and Artistic Director of the Center for Art & Public Exchange (CAPE) at the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA). She was the curator and programs director at Houston’s Project Row Houses from 2017 to 2020, having joined the organization in 2012 as curator and public art director. Here, she worked with over 100 BIPOC artists to show their work in PRH’s shotgun houses. She was instrumental in the creation of the 2:2:2 Exchange Residency initiative with the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, as well as the establishment of Project/Site, a temporary, site-specific, commission-based public art initiative. She began her career as a curatorial assistant at the Menil Collection in Houston from 2007 to 2009.
Dennis specializes in contemporary African American art, focusing on site-specific projects and community engagement. She is interested in the intersection of art and social justice while creating equitable opportunities for artists to thrive in their work. She conceives, implements, and directs public art programs to generate engagement within the Third Ward community and beyond.
“Ryan Dennis’s 10-year tenure in Houston at Project Row Houses and the Menil Collection is legendary, and it’s an honor to welcome her back to the city through this role,” said CAMH’s director Hesse McGraw. “Ryan is a leading national curatorial voice whose work uniquely bridges artists and communities with institutions.”
As one of the oldest non-collecting museums, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is focused on contemporary art and projects that create remarkable art experiences.
“CAMH is thrilled to recognize the extraordinary talents of our curatorial team and expand upon them,” McGraw says.
Her most popular project in recent years is the critically acclaimed exhibition, A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration. The exhibition, currently on view at Brooklyn Museum and travelling nationwide through 2024, was curated by Ryan Dennis, in collaboration with Jessica Bell Brown.
As a writer and advocate, Dennis’ writings have been featured in online and print catalogs and journals, as well as international publications. She has been a visiting lecturer and critic at numerous art schools and institutions and has taught courses on community-based practices and contemporary art at the University of Houston.