Curators in Conversation: Curating Amidst Political Change



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The exhibition, Kukuli Velarde: Free, Total, Faithful, and Fruitful, wasn’t supposed to exist. Originally, the Berman Museum of Art was going to be the last stop for Velarde’s traveling exhibition CORPUS. But due to unforeseen changes, it had to be reconceived. Grounded in this recent example, our panelists discuss how changes in the political climate can upend plans in museum work.

In her practice, artist Kukuli Velarde blends indigenous Peruvian culture, philosophy, and religion with European Catholic iconography to confront enduring cultural legacies of colonization. Drawing from visual languages of both indigenous and colonial cultures, the resulting imagery synthesizes and reclaims complexities of mestizo identities. By incorporating portraiture and self-portraiture, Velarde contemplates and reflects on the personal consequences of such histories and how multiple identities and realities can live on, together, in one person. Through her work, Velarde investigates an evolving sense of female identity, while simultaneously exploring the artist’s role as witness, critic, and agent of change.

Free, Total, Faithful, and Fruitful brings together works from various series over the course of Velarde’s career to celebrate the dynamics and fluidity of identity, womanhood, ritual, history, and adoration. The exhibition’s title references the components of “perfect” marital love, according to teachings of the Catholic Church. Velarde reinterprets these concepts to convey an expansive and inclusive connotation of perfect love.

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Kukuli Velarde, CORPUS, Berman Art Museum, Halsey Institute, politics, museum curation, exhibitions, Peru, female identity, indigenous peoples, NAGPRA


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Indigenous Studies | Museum Studies


The M4V video file has a run time of 0:58:55.

Deborah Barkun is the Creative Director of the Berman Museum, Director of the Ursinus Museum Studies program, and an Associate Professor of Art History. Her teaching and research pursuits explore art and artistic practice as forms of social and intellectual discourse.

Katie Hirsch is an arts administrator, art historian, and curator. She is currently the Director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Katie’s diverse arts background has informed her interdisciplinary approach to the study and exhibition of art and material culture.

Meghan Tierney is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Ursinus College. Her research pursuits center around art of the ancient Americas and Latin American art.

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Curators in Conversation: Curating Amidst Political Change