The Blanton Museum of Art has named Claudia Zapata as its first associate curator of Latino Art.
Zapata is a rising curator in the field of Latinx art, having served most recently as a curatorial assistant on the landmark exhibition “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now,” which was curated by E. Carmen Ramos at Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. Zapata is also currently a chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, with a joint affiliation with the school’s departments of art history and Chicana/o and Central American studies. Zapapta received a doctorate in 2022 from Southern Methodist University.
Previously in Austin, Zapata received a B.A. and M.A. in art history from UT, and was curator of exhibitions at Mexic-Arte Museum from 2010 to 2014, where they mounted exhibitions on Sam Coronado, Arturo García Bustos, and José Guadalupe Posada. Zapata is also a co-founder of the Puro Chingón Collective, which produces art toys and zines. They will join the Blanton’s curatorial team in July.
“Undoubtedly, the Gilberto Cárdenas and Dolores Garcia Collection gift to the Blanton is one of the most historic events in Latino art,” Zapata told Art News. “The Blanton is leading the charge for museums with their new permanent Latino art galleries, demanding space for this significant contribution to American art. We aim to make this institution the preeminent site for Latino art study and appreciation, serving local to international communities.”
Zapata’s appointment at the Blanton is part of the Advancing Latinx Art in Museums initiative that was announced in February by a consortium for four leading foundations—Mellon, Ford, Getty, and Terra — to pool together $5 million to grant $500,000 (over five years) for the creation of 10 Latinx art–focused curatorial positions. The Blanton will aim to endow Zapata’s newly created position after the five years.
Other institutions that are part of the initiative include the National Gallery of Art, El Museo del Barrio, and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.