Hesse McGraw

Executive Director of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH)

Hesse McGraw is Executive Director of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), one of the oldest non-collecting contemporary Museums in the United States. Hesse is a curator, writer, and cultural leader who most recently served as Partner of the cross-disciplinary practice el dorado inc, and as Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs at San Francisco Art Institute. His curatorial practice and arts organization leadership are internationally acclaimed for shifting organizations into springboards that expand the agency of artists beyond the gallery, reach new audiences, and embrace unexpected contexts. His noted long-term projects include commissioning Jill Magid’s work The Proposal (2014 – ongoing), which offers the gift of architect Luis Barragán’s body in the form of a two-carat diamond engagement ring in exchange for the return of his body of work to Mexico; Michael Jones McKean’s public artwork The Rainbow (2012 – ongoing), which generates actual prismatic rainbows from recycled water at civic scale; and Theaster Gates’ Carver Bank (2012 – 2016) in Nebraska, which convened a space of urban ecstasy that supported artists living and working in North Omaha. Through these collaborations, more than 75 curated exhibitions, and extensive public and educational programs, Hesse seeks to powerfully share the instrumental role of artists in igniting public imagination and animating our largest problems. Hesse has collaborated extensively with architects and designers to create and program spaces for art, artists, and the public — these projects include SFAI’s Studios Center at Fort Mason (Leddy Maytum Stacy); Walter and McBean Galleries renovation (Paffard Keatinge-Clay); Bemis Center renovations (Min | Day); Carver Bank (Theaster Gates and Rebuild Foundation); and Paragraph (BNIM). Currently, Hesse and CAMH are engaged in multiple cross-disciplinary projects and public realm design initiatives that position artists as catalysts for cultural and public realm transformation by directly engaging issues such as water recycling, health and wellness, social justice, and equity.

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