VPAM grant creates permanent curatorial position

By Teresa Acosta

The Vincent Price Art Museum received a $500,000 grant to support a curatorial position that will focus on collecting artwork from and promoting artists of Latin American or Caribbean descent. 

The grant was provided by Advancing Latinx Art in Museums (ALAM), a collaborative funding initiative from the Mellon, Ford, Getty and Terra Foundations. The grants purpose is to increase representation.

 The money will be paid out over the next five years. It will assist in paying the cost of the new permanent curator position, professional development, travel, research and acquisitions to diversify and build the permanent collection.

The new permanent curator Joseph Valencia, previously employed by the VPAM foundation to oversee exhibitions and programs, is the new permanent author. 

The grant moved him to ELAC employment where his focus will be on diversifying exhibitions and the collection at the museum. 

VPAM was one of 48 organizations from across the nation invited to apply for the grant. After applicants were reviewed by a panel of five experts in Latinx visual art and museums, they were one of 10 awarded the money.

 “They wanted applicants to demonstrate a strong commitment to building and expanding the curatorial focus of Latinx art,” Steven Wong, VPAM Director said. 

Wong said the museum already had a history of creating shows and exhibitions that were reflective of East Los Angeles College’s student body which is predominantly Latin American. The museum’s established history in Latin art gave the museum a favorable chance for the grant. 

Currently, Valencia is working on exhibitions that will highlight the cultural intersections of the surrounding communities of Monterey Park and East LA. He is also curating a show from the permanent collection focusing on Black and Indigenous People of Color.

Wong said the museum is honored to receive a grant that recognizes its work to elevate artists that often go unrecognized. Diversity representation is core to the work of the museum. 

“Bringing in these artists so our students here at ELAC but also the rest of the district and also our local communities can learn more about the stories, the struggles [and] the issues that our Lantix and BIPOC communities face,” Wong said

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