The High Museum of Art has announced Katherine Jentleson as its new curator of folk and self-taught art, and the first to occupy the post since it became fully endowed last August with a $2.5-million gift from board member Dan Boone, and his late wife, Merrie. Jentleson is a PhD candidate in art history at Duke University, where she is completing her dissertation on the rise of self-taught American artists in the first half of the 20th century. She will join the High staff on September 8.
Jentleson will have the task of revitalizing programming for the over 800-piece collection. The High’s well-regarded collection of folk and self-taught art has been in limbo since the departure of longtime curator Susan Mitchell Crawley in 2013.
In a press statement, Jentleson says: “I look forward to leading a new era in the High’s longstanding support of visionary artists whose masterpieces importantly broaden our understanding of who can be considered an artist in America, and on what terms.”
Jentleson is currently the 2014-15 Douglass Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has previously worked at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, where she managed the microsite for the traveling exhibition “Self-Taught Genius” and helped organize a symposium on Bill Traylor, and at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, where she curated “Eat, Pray, Weave: Ancient Peruvian Art from the Nasher Collection.” Jentleson also co-designed and administered “Fantasy Collecting,” the online art market game used in museum and classroom settings.
Her merging interests in technology and art go back a number of years. Before returning to grad school in 2010, she served as assistant editor Art + Auction magazine and was a founding member and vice president of analytics for Art Research Technologies (ART), an art market research firm. She contributed the essay “Cracks in the Consensus: Outsider Artists and Art World Ruptures” in the catalogue for the Studio Museum in Harlem’s “When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South” and an essay on Herbert Singleton in the catalogue for “Prospect.3: Notes for Now.”
David Brenneman, director of the High’s collections and exhibitions, says: “Katherine’s rich and varied experiences as a museum professional and scholar make her well-positioned to guide the growth of the department, while also utilizing emerging technologies to deeply engage our audiences with [this] collection.”