The Honolulu Biennial Foundation announces that the Honolulu Biennial 2021 will be curated by Dr. Melissa Chiu. The Honolulu Biennial, one of the largest major exhibition series in the world to focus on contemporary art practices of the Pacific, will take place February–April 2021. Its third edition will continue the Biennial’s mission to contribute to local and global dialogs by connecting perspectives, knowledge, and creative expressions that are of the Pacific.
In announcing the selection, Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider, Honolulu Biennial Foundation Executive Director and Co-founder, said: “We are excited to collaborate with Dr. Chiu on the third edition of the Honolulu Biennial. She brings significant insight, scholarship and passion. Dr. Chiu is key figure in building the global dialogue around contemporary art of the Asia-Pacific region, and we look forward to the conversations and connections she will advance for the Honolulu Biennial in 2021.”
Dr. Melissa Chiu commented, “I am thrilled to participate in the Honolulu Biennial, one of the most recent additions to the circuit of international biennials. As a relative newcomer, the Honolulu Biennial allows us to look at all of the curatorial possibilities that such an exhibition presents. I’m looking forward to exploring this as a curatorial model.”
Dr. Melissa Chiu is the Honolulu Biennial 2021 Curator. She is Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the national museum of modern and contemporary art, a Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Since her appointment in 2014, Chiu has presented landmark exhibitions by Shirin Neshat, Robert Irwin, Yayoi Kusama and Charline von Heyl.
Melissa Chiu was previously Museum Director and Senior Vice President, Global Art Programs (2001-2014) at Asia Society in New York responsible for overseeing the programming for museums in New York, Houston and Hong Kong. Specializing in contemporary art from the Asia-Pacific region, Chiu has organized nearly 30 exhibitions by Zhang Huan, Yoshitomo Nara, Sarah Sze, Michael Joo, Dinh Q. Lê, Ah Xian and Cai Guo-Qiang and co-curated One Way or Another:
Asian American Art Now (2006-8) and Art and China’s Revolution (2008).
Prior to this, Chiu was the founding Director of Gallery 4A (1996-2001), now known as 4A Centre of Contemporary Asian Art, and a curator at the University of Western Sydney (1993-1996) focused on building a collection of emerging Australian artists.
Melissa Chiu has been a board member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum Association of New York and the Vietnam Foundation for the Arts. She was also on the founding Advisory committee for the USC American Academy in China and has participated in the advisory committees for the Gwangju and Shanghai
In 2001, Chiu, along with others, formed the Asia Contemporary Art Consortium to promote awareness and appreciation of contemporary art from Asia in the United States. In 2002, Chiu initiated and organized the Asia Contemporary Art Week which each year showcases new artists from Asia in a citywide weeklong event in New York, New York.
A native of Australia, Melissa Chiu earned her bachelor’s degree in art history and criticism from the University of Western Sydney in 1992 and her master’s degree in arts administration in 1994 from the University of New South Wales. She later completed a Ph.D. at the University of Western Sydney focusing on contemporary Chinese art in the diaspora titled Transexperience and Chinese Experimental Art, 1990-2000, one of the first PhD’s on the subject. Later, it was
revised, expanded and published as Breakout: Chinese Art Outside China (2006).
Chiu has authored and edited several books and catalogues on contemporary art, including Contemporary Art in Asia: A Critical Reader (MIT Press, 2010), and has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the Museum of Modern Art and other universities and museums.