The Milwaukee Art Museum has announced that after an extensive search, Kantara Souffrant, PhD, has been hired as the Curator of Community Dialogue for the institution. This newly created position ensures that community engagement is at the center of adult programming at the Museum, through meaningful partnerships with peer institutions and artists, art activations and audience engagement.
“We are incredibly honored and excited to have Kantara return to the Museum to join our Senior Leadership Team and steward our institution’s community engagement initiatives,” said Marcelle Polednik, PhD, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director. “With the adoption of the Museum’s new Strategic Direction, the Curator of Community Dialogue position became a high priority as a critical piece to the important work the Museum needs to start doing—today.”
In addition to serving on the Museum’s Senior Leadership Team, Souffrant will build the institution’s capacity for making Art Relevant to Our Community and deliver Robust Community Programming, two key pillars of the Museum’s Strategic Direction. She will also address social issues through art and be responsible for offsite projects.
“For me, the role of Curator of Community Dialogue is personal: a chance to use art to build bridges across our city while amplifying the voices and experiences of Black, Latinx, and other communities of color,” said Kantara Souffrant. “It isn't merely about getting more people to come to the Museum; it is about how art and the Milwaukee Art Museum can help shape our city's future. We're co-creating a Milwaukee committed to equity, inclusion, diversity, and a healthier city for future generations to inherit. I'm eager to work alongside others doing this work both within and beyond the Milwaukee Art Museum.”
Souffrant is a museum educator, artist-scholar and independent cultural curator who has worked across academia and the non-profit sector in the pursuit of arts-based social justice and public education. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Global/Non-Western Art History at Illinois State University, where she teaches courses at the intersection of art history, African diasporic culture, and museum studies. She was also Visiting Assistant Professor of Arts of Africa and the Black Atlantic at Oberlin College, in Ohio. Souffrant received her PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University in June 2017.
Souffrant previously worked at the Milwaukee Art Museum, from 2015 to 2018, as the Manager of School and Teacher Programs. She developed and taught curricula that connected students with art in the Museum’s collection and revitalized the training and educational materials for the Museum’s Haitian art collection—one of the oldest and largest outside of Haiti. Additionally, as both an educator and practicing artist, Souffrant worked with Milwaukee-area performing arts organizations to curate programs that combined dance, theater and the visual arts.
Before the Milwaukee Art Museum, Souffrant was at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago as its cultural liaison, and had interned at the Field Museum in Chicago. She has been a guest instructor at the Chipstone Foundation, and the March on Milwaukee 50th Anniversary coordinating committee is among the committees and boards in Milwaukee and Chicago on which she has served.
Kantara Souffrant officially begins her role as the Curator of Community Dialogue for the Milwaukee Art Museum on Jan. 4, 2021.