Daisy Nam Departs Ballroom Marfa; Joins the Wattis Institute in California

by Jessica Fuentes February 29, 2024

Earlier this week, the California College of the Arts’ Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts announced its appointment of Daisy Nam as its next Director and Chief Curator.

A photograph of Daisy Nam, Executive Director of Ballroom Marfa in Marfa, Texas.

Daisy Nam

Ms. Nam has been a part of the West Texas non-collecting contemporary art museum Ballroom Marfa since 2020, when she was first hired as its curator. In 2022 she was appointed Executive Director of the organization. During her time at Ballroom, Ms. Nam organized several exhibitions, including Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago, which is currently on view through March 16, 2024; Tongues of Fire with Alexann Shusholtz; Kenneth Tam: Tender is the hand which holds the stone of memory; Ecstatic Land with co-curator Dean Daderko; and Donna Huanca: ESPEJO QUEMADA

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Nam, along with Ballroom music curator Sarah Melendez, established Ballroom Session–The Farther Place, an artist-in-residence program. Additionally, in her role as director, she secured a number of grants for the organization, such as grants from The Ruth Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Terra Foundation, and the Henry Moore Foundation.

In an announcement released by Ballroom Marfa, the organization’s co-founders Fairfax Dorn and Virginia Lebermann remarked, “Daisy has brought to Ballroom fresh professionalism, insightful, brilliant, curatorial perspective, and has created a robust, highly functioning fundraising system. We thank her and look forward to sharing updates in the coming weeks.”

Ms. Nam added, “It’s been a pleasure and honor to work with the incredible Ballroom staff, Board of Trustees, supporters, the town of Marfa, and of course, our visionary artists. I’m excited to see the next chapter of Ballroom unfold from California.”

Ms. Nam will begin her new role at the Wattis Institute on April 1. The institute is a nonprofit exhibition space and research center that focuses on artists’ perspectives. Its website explains that through its temporary exhibitions, public events, and research initiatives, the organization seeks to learn from artists.

In a social media post, the institute explained that Ms. Nam was selected following an international search. Specifically, it commended her experience of working in arts organizations tied to universities, along with her expertise in curating exhibitions, undertaking research, and overseeing residency programs. Prior to joining Ballroom, Ms. Nam worked at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, the School of the Arts at Columbia, and the Guggenheim Museum.

The post went on to state, “We are thrilled to have found such a great fit for the Wattis, and we are confident that Daisy is the right person to lead us into a new era, as we move from our space at 360 Kansas Street to CCA’s newly expanded campus a few blocks away.”

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