Fired MOCA curator will give UCLA commencement address

Helen Molesworth will give the keynote address this year at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture’s commencement ceremony.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Helen Molesworth, whose firing as chief curator from the Museum of Contemporary Art last month left many in the arts world shocked, has been chosen to give the June keynote commencement address at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.

“It is in the times that are most challenging that we, as artists, must engage the world with our greatest passion, clarity and forward-thinking vision,” Dean Brett Steele said in the announcement Friday. “To be an artist in an uncertain future, you must be brave, you must be bold, and you must strive for excellence.”

Steele added that in her career, Molesworth has “exemplified these values time and again.”

“Known for presenting cross-disciplinary work and underrepresented artists, often in their first museum shows or retrospectives,” he said, “who better to inspire our community of architects, artists, educators, activists and scholars as they embark on the next chapter of their creative lives?”


Artist Catherine Opie, a professor in the UCLA art department and an artist trustee at MOCA, said in the announcement that Molesworth “has an extraordinary ability to see forward — to identify and assess future generations of thinkers in contemporary culture.”

She added that the curator “will be a very powerful — and empowering — voice for our graduating students to hear this year.”

Last year’s keynote address was given by Kristy Edmunds, UCLA’s artistic director of the Center for the Art of Performance, who spoke about artists’ power to shape society and the importance of having passion, conviction and integrity in one’s creative life.

This year’s ceremony will take place June 16 at UCLA’s Dickson Court North plaza.

Follow me on Twitter: @debvankin



MOCA fires its chief curator

MOCA still mum, despite crucial questions and too few answers

MOCA gala debacle turns into a deeper discussion about inclusivity