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Curating Possibilities

Deana Haggag '13 (Curatorial Practice) HELMS THE CONTEMPORARY

Posted 01.01.14 by mica communications

Terry Squyres, Board President (left), and Deana Haggag ’13, Director. Photo by Patrick Fava.

This past summer, the art world took notice when the Baltimore-based museum, The Contemporary, announced its re-opening after a year hiatus.
What's more, The Contemporary had selected newly graduated Deana Haggag '13 (Curatorial Practice) as the director. As Haggag admits, she had hit the "professional jackpot."

Haggag originally got connected to The Contemporary during her last semester at MICA through an Office of Community Engagement-sponsored independent study. As part of the preparations for The Contemporary's re-opening, Haggag was asked to survey the current Baltimore arts scene and institutional models throughout the country to find the cultural gaps as well as reflect on best practices.

Coming from a gallery background, Haggag's overall experiences in the Curatorial Practice program gave her the "epiphany" that she was really more drawn to nonprofit work than the commercial side, and MICA's socially engaged curatorial approach resonated with her. The graduate program also enabled Haggag to spend two years studying with MICA's Curator-in-Residence and MFA in Curatorial Practice Director George Ciscle, who founded the Contemporary Museum in 1989.

"Deana's experiences and learning in the graduate program will bring a fresh perspective that will help inform The Contemporary's direction at this crucial point in its history," Ciscle explained.

With the re-launch, The Contemporary has decided to return to a nomadic model, as originally conceived by Ciscle. Without a building, Haggag explained that The Contemporary can be nimble and venture out into the city, offering public art experiences throughout Baltimore, often through collaborations.

Haggag hopes The Contemporary will benefit Baltimore and also have national connections. "I want to show off Baltimore, while creating sustainable relationships with people outside," Haggag said. "It's important we not only bring in more dialogue but we keep talent here to empower what's happening in this city."

Upon graduation, Haggag received support through MICA's LAB (Launch Artists in Baltimore) program to help launch the Contemporary's pilot projects. The Contemporary also benefits from board expertise from MICA's Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Ray Allen, Office of Community Engagement Director Karen Stults, and faculty members Jeffry Cudlin and Joyce Lee.

READ: Art in America, Baltimore's Contemporary Museum Reopens with New Director
READ: Baltimore Style, Women in the Arts
READ: Baltimore Sun, Contemporary Museum Resurfaces with New Name, Revived Mission

Top image caption: Terry Squyres, Board President (left), and Deana Haggag '13, Director. Photo by Patrick Fava.