Erin J. Gilbert is a curator of Modern and Contemporary art, specializing in African and African American Art. 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. Gilbert previously held positions at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Studio Museum in Harlem.
She is currently the Curator of African American Manuscripts at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Since taking on this role in January 2018 she has collected 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 and Joyce Scott. She has also conducted an oral history with Barbara Chase Riboud.
Having lived in the US, Malawi and 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 women 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.
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 publications including In the Eye of the Beholder, “The Limitations of Language” in Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi, “Senga Nengudi”: The Archives of American Art Journal (Spring 2019) and forthcoming writing includes ‘Renee Cox”: The Archives of American Art Journal (Fall 2019).
In 2019 alone she given lectures or panels regarding African American art at the National Gallery of Art, Howard University’s James A Porter Colloquium, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Swann Galleries.