Park Avenue Armory Appoints Tavia Nyong’o Curator of Public Programming
Rebecca Robertson, Founding President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory, today announced the appointment of Tavia Nyong’o as the nonprofit cultural institution’s new Curator of Public Programming. Nyong’o will spearhead the Armory’s acclaimed, year-round public initiatives, which offer engaging and relevant talks, panel discussions, and performances that focus on issues of our changing world through the lens of artists and cultural innovators. These include the Armory’s Culture in a Changing America all-day events as well as intimate salons, artist talks, and multidisciplinary symposia. Dr. Nyong’o will continue in his role as Chair of Theater and Performance Studies and William Lampson Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, American Studies and African American Studies at Yale University. He succeeds Avery Willis Hoffman in leading the public programming at the Armory.
Dr. Nyong’o brings to the Armory two decades of curatorial, publishing, and academic experience examining culture and the roles and responsibilities the arts have in representing, responding to, and leading social change in society, particularly through the lens of Black, feminist, queer, and experimental performance. His curatorial and symposia work is wide-ranging, from curating and organizing programs from Durban, South Africa to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, to orchestrating a symposium at NYU entitled “After CBGB: Gender, Sexuality, and the Future of Subculture.”
“Tavia will be instrumental in furthering the Armory’s role as an adventurous, relevant, artist-driven organization where artists catalyze robust and often challenging encounters with the most important issues today,” said Robertson. “We’re excited that Tavia will bring his groundbreaking vision and tremendous experience in expanding the ways we engage our many constituencies and, in turn, advance our civic mission.”
“The Park Avenue Armory has distinguished itself among the most cutting-edge and innovative arts organizations in the country, including as a convener of artists and audiences to discuss critical issues as seen and understood within the context of the role the arts can play in deciding what we want our future looks like and what we value,” said Nyong’o. “I am looking forward to working with Rebecca, Pierre and the entire Armory team to build upon its success as an internationally renowned institution at a pivotal moment in the conversations about the role of arts and arts institutions as community-builders and change-makers while also meeting the incredible pent-up demand for social cultural experiences.”
As the Chair of Theater and Performance Studies, Dr. Nyong’o oversees faculty, curriculum, and performance programming, a position he also had at New York University’s Department of Performance Studies. He has also served as a visiting scholar at University of Southern California, an advisor for the American Studies Association, and is Editor-at-Large for Duke University Press’ Social Text. He has published books, essays, and chapters, including Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life and The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory, which won the Errol Hill Award for the best book in Black theater and performance studies. He has been awarded the Ford Foundation Minority Dissertation Fellowship, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and a Marshall Scholarship by British Marshall Foundation.
The Armory’s Public Programming presents lively and relevant talks, panel discussions, and performances that focus on issues of our changing world seen through the lens of artists and cultural thinkers. Taking advantage of the array of rooms on the first and second floor, the Armory’s dynamic slate of day-long events in public programs began in February 2017 under the series title of Culture in a Changing America with a collaboration with the Aspen Institute. The program participants included Toshi Reagon, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Damian Woetzel, Elizabeth Colomba, and Lil Buck. The all-day Culture in a Changing America series has continued annually with specific themes including Looking Back/Looking Forward, Art & Identity/Art & Activism, The Shape of Things, and most recently 100 Years | 100 Women. Participants have included Meshell Ndegeocello, Thelma Golden, Virginia Johnson, George Stonefish, Elizabeth Alexander, Theaster Gates, Elizabeth Diller, Nona Hendryx, Kamilah Forbes, Bill T. Jones, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Sade Lythcott/National Black Theatre, Kathleen Turner, Martha Redbone, and Caridad “La Bruja” De La Luz and partners the Aspen Institute (for a second time), Studio Museum Harlem, ArtChangeUS, National Black Theatre, the Apollo, Juilliard School, La MaMa, The Laundromat Project, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of the Moving Image, National Sawdust, New York University, and Urban Bush Women. Park Avenue Armory also holds the ongoing Sunday Salon series, each event focusing on a specific artistic discipline or topic, which have included film, literature/plays, spoken word, dance, and museums “as a sanctuary.” Participants in the Salons have included Jeremy O. Harris, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tania Bruguera, Lynette Wallworth, Caridad "La Bruja" De La Luz, Silas Farley, Jessica Lang, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Dwight Rhoden, and Wendy Whelan.
In 2018, the Armory hosted a day-long Lenape Pow Wow and Standing Ground Symposium, the first congregation of Lenape Leaders on Manhattan Island since the 1700s. Participants at this historic event included Tanya Tagaq, Taino dancers from the Kasibahagua Taino Cultural Society, Winona LaDuke, Roberto Múkaro Borrero, and Steve Newcomb.
The Armory also supports artists across genres in the creation and development of new work through its Artist-in-Residence program, which offers dedicated space and resources to artists across a variety of disciplines. Current Artists-in-Residence who are often involved in the Public Programming at the Armory include: Lynn Nottage, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Carmelita Tropicana, Mimi Lien, Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and the D.R.E.A.M. Ring, Theaster Gates, Carrie Mae Weems, Christine Jones and Steven Hoggett, and Sara Serpa.