Kimberly Drew: a woman to watch

Kimberly Drew: a woman to watch
Kimberly Drew (left) at the MOMA. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Leading lights  -   Curators

Kimberly Drew, a.k.a. @museummammy, is making her name as one of the most influential individuals in the art world. As a writer, art activist, and curator, Drew has set out to highlight black artists, and museum accessibility.

Growing up in Orange, New Jersey, Drew was steeped in creativity. Orange, New Jersey – just outside of Newark – is a town was ‘ripe’ with artistic inspiration as the Black Arts Movement centred around the area in the 1970s. From her aunt, an artist working in arts programming, to her father, who is invested in music, Drew was raised in an environment that put the arts and culture at the forefront of life.

While at Smith College, Drew studied mathematics before setting her sights on the art world. She would eventually obtain a B.A. in History of Art and African American Studies from Smith. In 2010, she landed an internship with director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma Golden. It was then that Drew found her calling.

Having recently left her post as social media manager at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she continued to develop museum accessibility, Drew is now pursuing writing. She is teaming up with Jenna Wortham of the New York Times to work on a book project called Black Futures.

Alongside Golden, Drew’s knowledge of black art, which is often less focused on in traditional art history courses, soared. In an interview with NPR’s ‘What’s Good with Stretch and Bobbito,’ Drew stated:

‘When I got there [the Studio Museum] I immediately realized I didn’t know anything…I learned about Basquiat. I was like how the **** didn’t I know who this person was? There’s a possibility to have taken art history courses and not know about these very significant figures. It was amazing to come into an institution where could learn the names really intentionally. That summer my knowledge of black artists went from zero to 100.’

Recognizing a void for knowledge concerning black artists, Drew created Black Contemporary Art, a Tumblr that puts black artists, particularly those of African descent, and art in the limelight. Her aim was to expose people to artists and artworks that are often underrepresented. Her dedication to art accessibility is what sets her apart from the crowd. Drew recognizes the importance of curiosity and engagement through inviting people into spaces like museums and studios. She highlights the importance of exposure to what she calls black spaces, as well. Actions like these are what Drew believes will open the art world up to those who have little contact with it. Also, through Black Contemporary Art, Drew is purposefully changing the art history game by including all figures.

For her efforts, Drew has been awarded AIR Gallery’s inaugural Feminist Curator Award and has been recognized as one of the YBCA100 by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Drew is someone to watch as her young, yet impressive, career inevitably grows.