San Francisco, November 2 — The Asian Art Museum is thrilled to announce the addition of Naz Cuguoglu (“joo-gu-oh-loo”) to the museum’s expanding contemporary art program as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art & Programs, a role she has held since November 2022. Prior to this appointment, Cuguoglu was an inaugural fellow of the museum’s Practice Institute in 2022.
Informed by her Practice Institute research, Cuguoglu’s most recent curatorial project is Into View: New Voices, New Stories. This exhibition highlighting recent contemporary acquisitions is slated to appear in Hambrecht Gallery in early 2024. In addition, Cuguoglu recently curated Bernice Bing: Open Call now on view in the Hamon Arcade, as well as presentations on the East West Bank Art Terrace and the Lawrence and Gorretti Lui Hyde Street Art Wall by artists Ala Ebtekar, Kongkee, Pinaree Sanpitak, and Dave Young Kim. Exploring themes of intersectional identities, diasporic experiences, and world-building, these exhibitions exemplify Cuguoglu’s curatorial efforts to expand the idea of what it means to be “Asian,” to increase West Asian representation, and to showcase contemporary artists during their lifetimes.
“What is so exciting about being here at the Asian Art Museum is the chance to focus on West Asia,” says the Istanbul-born Cuguoglu. “Museums outside Asia often present the work of West Asian artists through a lens of the region’s historical relationship with Europe or East Asia, when in fact there is a rich contemporary dialogue taking place that is nuanced, fascinating, and even subversive. By sharing these more complex stories, we can dismantle old narratives about who is considered an artist and whose work is considered worthy of being in a museum.”
Under the direction of Dr. Jay Xu, the Barbara Bass Baker Director and CEO, the museum recently expanded its mission to include the art and experiences of Asian and Asian American artists, thereby diversifying the kinds of narratives and histories it explores. “Naz brings diverse points of view and new areas of expertise to our curatorial roster, as well as a desire to discover and share untold stories both past and present,” says Xu. “Her sense of joy in uplifting previously marginalized or overlooked voices is one that resonates deeply with our audiences and will be instrumental to the success of our broadened mission.”
“I come from a hybrid background focused on collectives and independent artists, so it’s important for me to hold space for new and emerging artists who might not otherwise have their works shown by such a major platform,” says Cuguoglu. “It’s very personal to me. As a woman and an immigrant, I’m very aware of the glass ceilings within museums and the hierarchies within the art world. Through this opportunity, I want to ensure there is room for the people like me to explore, be reflected, and connect with our wider community as well as each other.”
Cuguoglu brings extensive curatorial experience to her role at the Asian Art Museum, having curated exhibitions and programs internationally at documenta fifteen, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, the Walters Art Museum, and the 15th Istanbul Biennial, and locally at the Wattis Institute, Berkeley Art Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, and Slash Art. She previously held positions at KADIST, the de Young Museum, and SFMOMA, and has delivered lectures and participated in panel discussions at institutions including Tate Modern, Rhode Island School of Design, SALT, and UC Berkeley. Cuguoglu has edited and contributed to numerous exhibition catalogs from major publishers including Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Archive Books, and Marsilio Editori; her writings have been featured in SFMOMA Open Space, Art Asia Pacific, Hyperallergic, and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. She has also held positions on multiple juries and advisory panels both internationally and in the Bay Area. She received her MA in Curatorial Practice from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, and holds degrees in Psychology (BA) and Social Psychology (MA) with honors from Koç University, Istanbul.
“Naz’s focus on the intersection of migration, feminism, futurism, and gender justice, with an emphasis on West Asia and contemporary art, is critical to our program,” says Dr. Robert Mintz, Chief Curatorial Director. “Her efforts ensure that the important untold stories of artists all around us are brought to light.”
About the Asian Art Museum
Located in the heart of San Francisco, the museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian and Asian American art, with more than 20,000 awe-inspiring works ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations. Dynamic special exhibitions, cultural celebrations and public programs for all ages provide rich art experiences that unlock the past and spark questions about the future.