Nuance. Complexity. Community.
Those are three values that inform the thirty-plus exhibitions that Miranda Lash, the newly appointed Ellen Bruss Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, has organized in her previous positions as curator of contemporary art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and curator of modern and contemporary art at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
The hire, announced on July 15, signals the MCA's ongoing commitment to exhibitions from too often underrepresented BIPOC and LGBTQ artists, whom Lash has spent fourteen years spotlighting as a curator.
As the fine-art world reckons with an embarrassing legacy of white supremacy, she is eager to continue those conversations in Denver's art scene.
"I think there is a tremendous opportunity for museums," she says. "We’ve been asked to think positively about our practice. I’m very proud to be the MCA’s first curator of Latinx descent."
MCA director Nora Burnett Abrams, the former curator who was elevated to replace Adam Lerner almost a year ago, says that she and Lash share a belief that a museum should be responsive to community and should center a city's needs and character in its programming. In the middle of a pandemic and a worldwide uprising against racist police violence, "a reaffirmation of that commitment [to community] has certainly been warranted in the last couple of months," says Burnett Abrams. "I think bringing Miranda on will only further the work we want to do in being central to our communities."
While some of her colleagues in the art world have proposed abolishing museums altogether in response to their failure to represent diverse communities, Lash maintains that the institutions still have enormous value.
"I’m interested in the museum as a public platform and an institution in the public’s trust," she says. That commitment, for Lash, started when she was a child and her uncle took her to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Although she hasn't spent much time in Denver, she's eager to explore the city, from dining at Casa Bonita to going to a concert at Red Rocks...when the pandemic is over, at least. When she arrives in a new city, her approach is to research the place, reading books, watching movies, and becoming a vocal and visible presence in the local cultural scene.
"The heart and soul of this process is talking to people," she says. "It’s very important when I enter a community to talk to established artists and emerging artists. I like to get the temperature of what’s going on."