CCA Wattis Institute appoints Kim Nguyen as new curator and head of programs

Former director and curator of Artspeak begins in January 2017.

Portrait photo of Kim Nguyen

Kim Nguyen

San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 10, 2017 — Kim Nguyen will join CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts as its new curator and head of programs, Wattis director and chief curator Anthony Huberman announced today.

Nguyen was formerly the director and curator of Artspeak, an artist-run nonprofit in Vancouver, Canada. She succeeds Jamie Stevens, who was curator and head of programs at Wattis Institute from 2014 until his departure in September of 2016 to become curator at Artists Space in New York.

Nguyen and Huberman make up the Wattis’s curatorial leadership team and will be planning exhibitions and public programs, instigating new scholarship, and engaging with artists around the world. Nguyen starts her new position January 17.

“I have long admired the Wattis for its artist-centered, risk-taking approach and capacity to anchor international conversations within the cultural context of San Francisco.”

— Kim Nguyen

Curator and Head of Programs, CCA Wattis Institute

Huberman said today, “I’m delighted to welcome this brilliant and inspiring curator to the Wattis Institute. Her passion for emerging artists and her ability to think at a global scale about the conditions and conversations that drive contemporary art—continuing focuses of the Wattis program—will only strengthen our momentum in bringing strong work to Bay Area audiences and giving artists a platform to explore new directions.”

Of her appointment, Nguyen says, “I have long admired the Wattis for its artist-centered, risk-taking approach and capacity to anchor international conversations within the cultural context of San Francisco. Now is an urgent time for institutions to encourage critical thinking, and I’m excited to collaborate with the Wattis’s talented team and the Bay Area’s artistic community to find a path forward.”

About Kim Nguyen

While at Vancouver’s Artspeak, where she was director and curator from 2011 to 2016, Nguyen curated exhibitions and produced publications focusing on work by Yuji Agematsu, Michelle Blade, Valérie Blass, Alex Da Corte, Abigail DeVille, Aaron Flint Jamison, Kalup Linzy, Laura Owens, and Danh Vo, to name a few.

There she also transformed the archives, library, and website with strategic overhauls, advanced the organization's expansion plan by acquiring a second dedicated space, and secured Artspeak's long-term fiscal sustainability.

Prior to her work at Artspeak, Nguyen held curatorial positions at Access Gallery and Or Gallery in Vancouver. As an independent curator, she has co-organized projects for Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy; Belkin Satellite gallery in Vancouver; and Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts in Winnipeg.

Nguyen’s writing has appeared in exhibition catalogues and periodicals nationally and internationally, with recent texts in catalogues published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Herning Museum of Art (Denmark). She is the recipient of the 2015 Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Emerging Curators in Contemporary Canadian Art and the 2016 Joan Lowndes Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for excellence in critical and curatorial writing.

Nguyen earned an MA in art history and curatorial/critical studies at University of British Columbia, Vancouver (2009); and a BFA with honors from University of Manitoba, Winnipeg (2005).

About the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

Founded in 1998 at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and located a few blocks from its campus, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute dedicated to contemporary art and ideas. As an exhibition space, it commissions and shows new work by emerging and established artists from around the world.

Recent solo exhibitions include Laura Owens: Ten Paintings; Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys: Tram 3 (which traveled to MoMA PS1); Josephine Pryde: Lapses in Thinking by the Person I Am (which traveled to ICA Philadelphia and earned Pryde a 2016 Turner Prize nomination); Sam Lewitt: More Heat Than Light (which traveled to Kunsthalle Basel and the Swiss Institute, New York); and Ellen Cantor: Cinderella Syndrome (which traveled to Künstlerhaus Stuttgart).

The Wattis dedicates an entire year to reflecting on the work of a single artist with its research program, which informs a regular series of public programs and publications involving the field’s most prominent artists and thinkers. The current featured artist is David Hammons; past seasons featured Joan Jonas and Andrea Fraser.

The CCA Wattis Institute program is generously supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation; by Leadership contributors Patricia W. Fitzpatrick, Daniel and Manizeh Rimer, Kaitlyn and Mike Krieger, Chara Schreyer and Gordon Freund, Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg, Sonya Yu and Zack Lara, and by CCA Wattis Institute’s Curator’s Forum. Phyllis C. Wattis was the generous founding patron.

For more information, visit

About California College of the Arts

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) educates the creative leaders of tomorrow to make powerful contributions to society. CCA’s distinctive project-based educational model emphasizes interdisciplinary experimentation, risk-taking, and innovation.

CCA offers a rich curriculum of 22 undergraduate and 12 graduate programs in art, design, architecture, and writing taught by a faculty of expert practitioners and attracts promising students from across the United States and from 54 countries around the world. Graduates are highly sought after by companies such as Pixar/Disney, Apple, Intel, Facebook, Gensler, Google, IDEO, Autodesk, Mattel, and Nike, and many have launched their own successful businesses.