While there have been many opportunities to learn about Beacon Gallery’s amazing artists through our ongoing Beacon Gallery Connections blog series, we don’t often get the chance to spotlight the important individuals contributing to such work behind the scenes.
The Beacon Gallery Team is a small but mighty one, and we would love to be able to connect with our fellow art community on a more in-depth level. With that said, we’re excited to present a moment to meet Beacon Gallery’s Associate Curator, Chenoa Baker!
What sparked your interest in the arts?
I came into the arts serendipitously although I was surrounded by it because my mom’s ceramics from college adorned my childhood home, and my dad was a photographer. Shoutout to Syracuse in Focus / The Daily Burst! But I had different ideas about what I thought I would do: American Sign Language translator, nutritionist, but the last one I landed on when entering college was my aspiration to work at a think tank. Art history fulfilled a gen ed requirement at Chatham University and I was hooked from there.
What brought you to Boston, and what’s your impression of the city/community?
Originally, I came to Boston because of a Museum Fellowship at the ICA/Boston and decided to stay because of the space and opportunity to develop a curatorial consulting career. Boston is a cool place – I think it gets a bad rep because of the wealth Massachusetts has and because of racist incidents of Celtics fans. I’ve enjoyed meeting people from all over the world, particularly Cape Verde, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Nigeria. There is so much talent and stories here! Also, I love being in a place that is by the ocean and New England falls are immaculate.
What other projects are you excited about right now?
Regarding Beacon Gallery projects, I am excited to plan a group show opening in November 2023, our Artist in Residence program, and be a part of upcoming projects for artists like Julia Csekö, Raquel Fornasaro, and Sima Schloss to name a few. On top of that, I am looking forward to personal projects like growing as a writer and editor, working with the Peabody Essex Museum for Gio Swaby: Fresh Up, and doing community-based work.
What are some of your hobbies?
Reading, cooking, watching reality tv, hanging out with friends, dancing – that makes me the most extroverted.
What do you value?
God, family, authenticity, passing down stories, equity.
What was your favorite class in college?
This is a tough one. I designed my major to encompass fun classes. Two highlights are my Curating African Art class which I worked with the Chatham University Cheryl Olkes Collection of African Art. It’s a collection of 600 belongings from across the continent from the 18th-20th century. Although collecting practices are fraught with colonialism, I enjoyed studying these objects up close and co-curating them with friends as someone of the African Diaspora. Also, I really liked my Agroecology which was about our food system. The labs were my favorite because we grew arugula or took care of livestock (holding a Nigerian Dwarf goat while it got its hooves clipped was super fun!). Honorable mentions: African American Literature, Female Narration in Film, Oral Histories, Neighborhoods, and Race.
What artist, artwork, book, movie, or podcast represents your mood right now?
This season I am embracing my soft girl – rest, self-care, and inner peace *voice of Eugway from Kung Fu Panda.* An artist that captures that is Megan Gabrielle Harris. She has these brown, blue, and green tones that have a beautiful surrealist quality to them.
What are your personal goals for Beacon Gallery through your position as Associate Curator?
I have many goals. I want to expand the exhibition program by bringing my collectivist mindset to curation and working with a diverse group of artists, divesting from the resources we have and/or attaining through grant funding, collectors, and partnerships to invest in communities. Also, I enjoy forging connections like the Night at the Exhibit event with The B-Sidez, which welcomed young Black Boston professionals to mingle, talk about art, and listen to great music. Curation is way more than the work on the walls, but that is the evidence of the deep community-based and social impact work I seek to do.
Thanks to Chenoa for taking the time to tell us a bit more about herself! Make sure to say ‘hi’ next time you’re in the gallery – our team would love to meet you.
About Chenoa Baker (she/her), Associate Curator at Beacon Gallery
Chenoa is an empathetic curator, wordsmith, and descendant of self-emancipators. Materiality, visual research, and ecologies of kinship shape her work. She has worked with many institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. Her writing appears in Boston Art Review, Sixty Inches From Center, Helena Metaferia: Generations, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Burnaway, Art & Object, Black Art in America, and Sugarcane Magazine.
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