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Vancouver Art Gallery appoints three local curators in residence: Pantea Haghighi, Makiko Hara, and Nya Lewis

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Pantea Haghighi, Makiko Hara, and Nya Lewis have all been engaged with previous projects for the Vancouver Art Gallery. VAG photo.

Three former Vancouver Art Gallery guest curators will be working with the institution through 2025. Pantea Haghighi, Makiko Hara, and Nya Lewis have all been named curators in residence, broadening perspectives in the gallery’s curatorial department.

“These important residencies exemplify the gallery as a site for education, research and thought leadership,” Anthony Kiendl, CEO and executive director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, said in a news release. “We are pleased to welcome Pantea, Makiko, and Nya, whose curiosity and insight will enrich the Gallery in an exciting period of growth and transformation.”

The deputy director, Eva Respini, said that the “three accomplished curators” will support a core mission: producing knowledge about art and offering a platform for the knowledge produced by artists.

“I am looking forward to learning from my new colleagues and widening the scope of exhibitions, programming, and scholarship we offer our audiences,” Respini stated in the same news release.

Haghighi, a doctoral student at Simon Fraser University, guest curated Parviz Tanavoli: Poets, Locks, Cages. In an interview with Pancouver last year, Haghighi discussed how Tanavoli, a resident of Metro Vancouver, modernized sculpture in Iran.

“Pre-Parviz, sculpture either did not exist as in the round or it was very, very traditional,” she said at the time.

In her current residency, Haghighi will continue researching the emergence and development of modernism in Iran between 1948 and 1978, according to the VAG.

Pantea Haghighi. Photo by Scott Little.
Curator Pantea Haghighi points to Parviz Tanavoli’s Disciples of Sheikh San’an. Photo by Scott Little.

Curators will take on several tasks

Hara has guest curated Offsite: Pedro Reyes and Lani Maestro for the Vancouver Art Gallery. Maestro’s No Pain Like This Body was recently included on an international list of the world’s top public art works in 2023.

A former Tokyo resident, Hara has more than three decades of experience as an independent curator, producer, lecturer, performance artist, and writer. She will curate performance events and public art projects as part of her residency.

Lewis, director of Artspeak gallery and interim artistic director of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, guest curated Where do we go from here? at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2020. According to the gallery, Lewis’s practice is “rooted in the culmination of centuries of resistance, love, questions, actions and study concerning Black Atlantic/Pacific cultural production”.

As a curator in residence, Lewis will be conducting research toward a major publication dedicated to Black cultural production in British Columbia.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.