Art & Dialogue: San Francisco Program by Michelle White

Michelle White, Senior Curator at The Menil Collection in Houston, conducted a free, online public conversation on December 7, 2020, virtually hosted by CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.

In her talk, Michelle reflects on questions about the role of institutions in facilitating new work and providing platforms for research, by pulling from the Menil’s history of artist projects stemming from the 1969 project with Andy Warhol, “Raid the Icebox.” She discusses her exhibitions with contemporary artists that have come out of the collection and archives of the museum’s unique holdings of historical materials and works of art, including recent exhibitions with Allora & Calzadilla, Mona Hatoum and Leslie Hewitt.

In addition to this event and as part of Art & Dialogue, Michelle conducted virtual studio visits with eight San Francisco Artadia Awardees over the course of two weeks.

Michelle White is Senior Curator at the Menil Collection, where she has organized the exhibitions, Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of NoonLessons from Below: Otabenga Jones and AssociatesRoni Horn: When I Breathe, I DrawLeaps into the Void: Documents of Nouveau Realist PerformanceBetween Land and Sea: Artists of the Coenties SlipBarnett Newman: the Late Work, Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma and Vija Celmins: Death and Disaster, 1964—1966. She was the co-curator of the first retrospective of the drawings of Richard Serra that opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and organized the retrospective drawing exhibition of works on paper by Lee Bontecou for the Menil and the Princeton University Art Museum. She has worked with Claes Oldenburg on a publication and exhibition of the “Strange Eggs,” and has organized commissions for the Menil with artists Dario Robleto, Leslie Hewitt and Bradford Young. She is currently preparing exhibition on the work of Niki de Saint Phalle and Chryssa. She received her B.A. at the University of California, San Diego and her M.A. in Art History from Tufts University, and has held positions at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute dedicated to contemporary art and ideas. The Wattis is a laboratory for testing the future of contemporary art through temporary exhibitions, public events, and indepth research. It is part of the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

The Wattis supports artists taking risks and experimenting with new ideas. It provides a public forum to established, emerging, and underrecognized artists who challenge our ways of understanding the art of our current moment.


Michelle White, Senior Curator, The Menil Collection, Houston

Courtesy of The Menil Collection, Photograph by Eric Hester