MOCAD welcomes new senior curator in search of 'diamonds in the rough'
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit has named Larry Ossei-Mensah, 38, its new senior curator, effective Sept. 1.
He succeeds Jens Hoffmann, who resigned last December following allegations of sexual harassment during Hoffmann's time at the Jewish Museum in New York.
Ossei-Mensah, a Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic living in New York, says he's delighted to be coming to Detroit, which he said was "a natural progression" at this stage in his career.
MOCAD director Elysia Borowy-Reeder called him "a rising star."
In New York, the Bronx native curated a number of high-profile shows, including last year's "Race and Revolution: Still Separate - Still Unequal" at Brooklyn's Smack Mellon gallery.
Next year, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco will host a show Ossei-Mensah co-curated, "Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox," funded in part with a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Ossei-Mensah will commute between New York and Detroit, and plans to continue an ongoing collaboration with Manhattan's Elizabeth Dee Gallery called "Selections." That exhibits work by emerging artists from Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx.
"For me," Ossei-Mensah said, "I really enjoy finding diamonds in the rough," an ambition he clearly thinks has potential in Detroit.
At MOCAD, he envisions shows that celebrate local artists, as well as bringing in outsiders. Ossei-Mensah hopes to be able to bridge gaps that can limit an arts institution's reach.
"The question is how we create excitement and a sense of access and belonging for Detroiters," he said, "as well as for people who might be visiting from other parts of the country or the suburbs."
Ossei-Mensah brings an interesting background to MOCAD, with a degree in business management from Clark University and a master's in marketing and hospitality management from Les Roches in Switzerland.
"That's when I caught the art bug," he said. "I was able to go to Paris and Rome and really begin to feed this curiosity."
Ossei-Mensah paired this business training with a curatorial intensive from New York's Independent Curators International. And last summer he completed the Impact Program for Arts Leaders at Stanford University, a short, interdisciplinary fellowship he called "a gamechanger."
Ossei-Mensah is also co-founder of the online arts collective ARTNOIR.