Erin Jenoa Gilbert is a curator and art advisor, specializing in Modern and Contemporary Art of the African diaspora. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and African & African American Studies from The University of Michigan and an M.A. in Contemporary Art from The University of Manchester.
Most recently Gilbert was the Curator of African American Manuscripts at the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. Expanding the collection significantly in a two year period she acquired the papers of abstract, conceptual and performing artists including Ed Clark, Betty Blayton Taylor, Beverly Buchanan, Senga Nengudi, Maren Hassinger, Ruth Jett, Chakaia Booker, Renee Cox, EJ Montgomery, Nanette Carter, Sylvia Snowden, Joyce Scott, Allan R. Freelon, Lowery Stokes Sims, Arthur Monroe, Oliver Jackson Lee, Howardena Pindell and Emma Amos. During her tenure, she also conducted the definitive long form oral history with Paris based sculptor Barbara Chase Riboud. Gilbert previously held positions at The Art Institute of Chicago (2007-2010) and The Studio Museum in Harlem (2011-2013).
Though born in the US, Gilbert spent formative years in Malawi, Africa and having been educated the UK, Gilbert is deeply concerned with issues of national identity, migration and immigration. Exploring the relationship between art, power and politics, she examines the physical and psychological connection to land, the trauma of displacement and the body as a contested terrain. Her curatorial practice is concerned with presenting work by artists whose contribution to the cannon has been overlooked - particularly landscape, abstract, conceptual and performance artists from the Deep South and the Global South. The intersectionality of race, class and gender informs her curatorial practice. Accordingly, Gilbert has recently served as guest curator at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans and ArtPace San Antonio.
She is currently the co-curator of Whales: A Romance at the MoAD in San Francisco. Other recent exhibitions include In The Eye of the Beholder, Sienna Shields: Invisible Woman, Zohra Opoku: Draped Encounters/Beyond Visage and Phoebe Boswell: Transit Terminal.
She has recently contributed essays to exhibition catalogues including "Transformation and Transcendence" in Chakaia Booker: The Observer, Mary Lovelace O'Neal, "Revolutionary Redactions" fand "Seeing Red: Rage, Romance and Resurrection" in Alma Thomas: Resurrection, In the Eye of the Beholder, "The Limitations of Language” in Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi. She also penned Recent Acquisition Notes on “Senga Nengudi”(Spring 2019) ”Renee Cox” (Fall 2019) and “Charles White and Mel Williamson Papers” (Spring 2020) in The Archives of American Art Journal.
She has addressed audiences at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, Howard University’s James A Porter Colloquium, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Swann Galleries.