2011 Driskell Prize Recipient

Valerie Cassel Oliver

Valerie Cassel Oliver

Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Texas. Prior to her tenure at CAMH she was director of the Visiting Artist Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2000 she was one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

At the CAMH, Cassel Oliver has organized numerous exhibitions including Splat Boom Pow! The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art (2003); the acclaimed Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 (2005); Black Light/White Noise: Sound and Light in Contemporary Art (2007); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image with Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2009); Hand+Made: The Performative Impulse in Art and Craft (2010); a major retrospective on Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of Flux/us, as well as the survey Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein (2011). In 2012, she mounted the project Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, currently touring through 2016. Her major survey of drawings by Houston-based and internationally recognized artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, entitled Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones–20 Years of Drawing, was presented in 2014 and is slated to tour throughout 2015.

Cassel Oliver is curator of the current installation at CAMH, Whispering Bayou, an ever-evolving video and sound environment by French composer and multi-media artist Jean-Baptiste Barriére; filmmaker, digital arts producer, and community activist Carroll Parrott Blue; and composer and computer interactive artist George Lewis. At present, she is organizing the first museum survey of work by New York-based artist Jennie C. Jones, entitled Compilation, slated to open December 2015.

Cassel Oliver is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Howard University in Washington, D.C. She holds a Certificate in Executive Management from Columbia University in New York. In 2007, Cassel Oliver received a Getty Research Institute fellowship for her work on Benjamin Patterson, and in 2009, she was selected as a fellow for the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York. She has lectured extensively and published widely.

Learn more about the David C. Driskell Prize and other previous winners.