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Curatorial Initiative
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The Curatorial Initiative reflects DCAC’s commitment to curatorial practice as an integral part of supporting emerging and under recognized artists. Each year an apprentice curator is selected to gain experience in the process of planning and mounting an exhibition by working with an experienced mentor curator. The program results in two exhibitions each year: in the spring the mentor curator selects artists and plans the exhibition and accompanying catalogue with the assistance of the apprentice; in the autumn, the roles are reversed and the apprentice plans and executes an exhibition with the assistance and advice of the mentor.

By nurturing new curators DCAC hopes to bring fresh perspectives into our own programming while assisting a new generation of curators who will take the knowledge they gain into our arts community and beyond.


Mentor Curator for 2022












Claudia Rousseau is an art historian, independent curator, and art critic. Born and raised in New York City, Dr. Rousseau completed a B.A. in Art History at Hunter College (C.U.N.Y.), and her M.A. and Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York. Arriving in Maryland in 2001, she taught art history at the Maryland College of Art and Design and later joined the art faculty at Montgomery College where currently she is Professor Emerita. An internationally published scholar of Renaissance and Modern art, she is Editor-at-Large of East City Art and frequent contributor to that online art magazine covering art exhibits in Washington DC and surrounding areas. Dr. Rousseau has curated many contemporary art exhibits at venues in the DC region, and she continues to serve on the Public Arts Trust Steering Committee of the AHCMC, as well as the Art Review Panel of the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission for Public Art. Since 2010 she has been a juried member of the prestigious International Association of Art Critics (AICA) for her writing on art.

Apprentice Curator for 2022

Ashley McDonald is a membership and marketing professional with nonprofit experience in the arts, culture, and entertainment sectors. She has held a number of positions with various arts and cultural organizations in the Metropolitan DC area such as the T. Howard Foundation, Washington Project for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, the Brentwood Arts Exchange, and Arts on the Block. She has also served on the Executive Committee of Howard University’s James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art, where she assisted with increasing the Colloquium’s social media presence.

Formally trained as an arts administrator – Ashley has always had a deep appreciation and admiration for the visual arts. She remembers the impact a class field trip, to a local art museum, had on her in the second grade. She also held her first internship in the art galleries run by her alma mater. As simple as it may be – she believes that art is a visual manifestation of an artist’s ideas and has always been fascinated by the processes artists use to express their thoughts. She’s also interested in understanding the motivations, curiosities, and concerns behind an artist’s work. Ashley is excited to take part in DCAC’s Curatorial Initiative for the opportunity to curate her first show and learn more about curation as a creative process.




Volume 1 (2006 – 20011)

Volume 2 (2012 – 2018)
These two bound volumes include all the full color catalogs created by the curators of Curatorial Initiative exhibitions between 2006 and 2018, complete with table of contents and index. With images of artwork from over 250 artists, and in depth essays, these volumes show the diversity and dynamism of the exhibitions in this program. To order, click here.



2006: Hystoria: James Mahoney (Lisa McCarty, mentee)
2006: Space of Change: Margaret Boozer and Clare Huschle (Anne Surak, mentee)
2006: Sea to Shining Sea: Ori Sotles (Cara Ober, mentee)
2007: American Icons through Indigenous Eyes: Suzan Shown Harjo (Liz Flyntz, mentee)
2007: American Idolatry: Anne Surak
2007: By Chance: Lisa McCarty
2007: Jolly Cowboy: Cara Ober
2007: Sloganeers: Liz Flyntz
2008: Astral Bodies: James Mahoney (Ellen Tani, mentee)
2008: Kid Mutiny: Ellen Tani
2009: Gift Exchange: Laura Roulet (Landria Shack, mentee)
2009: Poetics of Material: Landria Shack
2010: Abstract Realities: Trudi Van Dyke (Pam Rogers, mentee)
2010: Elements: Pam Rogers
2011: Recollections: Isabel Manalo (Metasebia Yoseph, mentee)
2011: Organic Plasticity: Metasebia Yoseph
2012: Zeitgiest; Too Much Information: Ellen Weiss and Sondra Arkin (Amanda Jirón- Murphy, mentee)
2012: Microscapes: Amanda Jirón – Murphy
2013: Fear Strikes Back: Helen C. Fredrick (Jessica Pavone, mentee)
2013: Non Serviam: Jessica Pavone
2014: (in)Visible & (dis)Embodied: Jarvis DuBois (Gia Harewood, mentee)
2014: Baggage Claim: Gia Harewood
2015: Self/Non-Self: Sequence and Abstraction: Jefferson Pinder (Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell, mentee)
2015: Studio Sacrilege: Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell
2016: Sip and Paint Van Gogh’s The Starry Night: Tomas Drymon (Martina Dodd, mentee)
2016: Public Displays of Privacy: Martina Dodd
2017: Macho – The Mask of Masculinity: Rebecca Cross (Sarah Burford, mentee)
2017: Denatured: Sarah Burford
2018: Queer(ing) Pleasure, Queer(ed) Performativity, both curated by Andy Johnson. Mentors: Tim Doud & Zoe Charlton
2019: Intermediate: Fluxus Interpretations: Dawne Langford (Monique Muse Dodd, mentee)
2019: Reparations Realized: Monique Muse Dodd

Questions? Please email

Above: Installation photo from “Re-Collections,” a solo show of work by Victoria Greising, curated by Isabel Manalo (Mentor Curator) and Metasabia Yosef (Apprentice Curator)