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MCA Chicago announces three new appointments

Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the , is pleased to announce the recent staff promotions of Naomi Beckwith to Manilow Senior Curator and Marissa Reyes to Dr. Robert N. Mayer Director of Learning and Public Programs, and the new appointment of Helen Yi as the Director of Retail Experience, concluding a comprehensive national search.

Grynsztejn says, “I am thrilled to announce that we have recently filled three impactful senior positions at the MCA with strong female voices. Naomi Beckwith and Marissa Reyes have already forged incredibly accomplished careers at the MCA. Naomi is a leading voice in the curatorial field with highly acclaimed and groundbreaking exhibitions such as the recent Howardena Pindell show, and is recognized as a prominent scholar in the field. Likewise, Marissa has been a guiding force in youth and education with award-winning programs for teachers and students. We are also excited to have Helen Yi bring her expertise in cutting-edge design and retail experience to the MCA Store. These three powerful women, who all hail from Chicago, will bring a diversity of experience, leadership, and creative ideas to the museum.”

Naomi Beckwith is the MCA’s Manilow Senior Curator, where her exhibition and writing projects focus on the impact of identity and multidisciplinary practices on shaping contemporary art. Her most recent exhibition was the highly acclaimed survey on Howardena Pindell, which is currently traveling. This winter, Beckwith is curating Prisoner of Love, centered around Arthur Jafa’s video phenomenon, “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death,” and is organizing the Chicago presentation of the Laurie Simmons exhibition. Since she joined the MCA in 2011, she has organized numerous respected exhibitions including The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now and Homebodies, as well as solo exhibitions on The Propeller Group, Keren Cytter, Leslie Hewitt, William J. O’Brien, and Jimmy Robert; and an outdoor plaza project with Yinka Shonibare. Prior to the MCA, Beckwith was Associate Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem and held multiple fellowships, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Studies Program, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and the Center for Curatorial Leadership. She is on the Board at Art Table and the Laundromat Project; is the curatorial advisor to SITElines Biennial in Santa Fe; and served as the chair of the inaugural Curatorial Leadership Summit at the Armory Show in 2018. She holds a BA in History from Northwestern University and an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute in London.

Marissa Reyes is the new Dr. Robert N. Mayer Director of Learning and Public Programs, where she is responsible for the strategic and creative leadership of the museum’s full range of programs, including school partnerships, lectures and gallery talks, symposia, student tours and workshops, family days, late night events, teen programs, and community engagement. Over the past ten years at the MCA, Reyes has spearheaded important initiatives, such as the museum’s award-winning S.P.A.C.E. (School Partnership for Art and Civic Engagement) and Teen Creative Agency (TCA) programs that continue to garner accolades for innovation. Reyes oversees programming in the Commons, the MCA’s newly renovated social space for learning and engagement. Located on the second floor of the museum, the Commons places artistic and civic exchange at the heart of the museum. Reyes leads a team that organizes programs, community meetings, and artist projects inside the Commons, meant to encourage dialogue and interaction among visitors, artists, and communities. Previously, she was Associate Director of Programs at Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education, where she developed an integrated program of artist residencies and teacher professional development in Chicago Public Schools. Reyes frequently serves as a panelist, grant reviewer, and curriculum adviser on art and museum education locally and nationally. She is the recipient of the 2014 Illinois Museum Educator of the Year Award.

Helen Yi is the new MCA Director of Retail Experience, having been the founder of her eponymous women’s designer boutique in Chicago. With over 20 years of experience in luxury fashion, she is known for her highly sophisticated point of view and her ability to create an award-winning retail experience. Her boutique was named among the “Top 100 Boutiques in America” by Harper’s Bazaar; a “Power Player” by Chicago Magazine; and was regularly featured in major fashion publications. She is now responsible for steering the MCA’s physical and online store operations towards cutting-edge offerings and design concepts.


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