Hannah Barco appointed Associate Curator & Festival Director of Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

Hannah Barco appointed Associate Curator & Festival Director of Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

Image courtesy of Hannah Barco

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) has announced the appointment of Hannah Barco as the Institute’s new Associate Curator & Festival Director. The appointment comes at an important time in the institution’s nearly five decades, almost one year into rebranding from its former name, Greater Reston Arts Center, as it continues to shape its identity as a prominent contemporary arts institution in the DC metropolitan region. 

“Artists are vital to our society because of their capacity to engage and absorb the world, in all of its complexities, and through their creative practices make things that can provoke and inspire artworks that can change how others see the world,” says Barco.” I’ve always been passionate about the work of supporting artists in manifesting their vision, and I am thrilled to be joining Tephra ICA, an institution that so clearly takes great care in supporting artists and creating opportunities for audiences to meaningfully engage with contemporary art.” 

Barco received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston and Tufts University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the former Director of Exhibitions and Associate Curator at the School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where she curated and collaborated with external curators on department exhibitions and developed and produced related public programs, exhibition engagement, and educational opportunities. At SAIC, Barco guided over a dozen major exhibitions, symposia, and live art festivals in the institution’s 33,000 square foot space and in partner venues across the city exploring a range of themes from the impact of mass incarceration to the influence of Thai filmmaker, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, on emerging artists today. Barco is also a practicing artist focusing on sculpture and performance art.

“I have learned so much from the extraordinary artists and colleagues I have worked with in Chicago over the last ten years, especially in addressing the exclusionary history of the white box gallery and creating welcoming experiences for diverse audiences to come together around art. I am excited to be moving to the DC metropolitan area and will be bringing with me this incredible network of creative practitioners and my commitment to social justice and equity in the arts.” 

As Associate Curator & Festival Director at Tephra ICA, Barco will support and advance the development and execution of dynamic, innovative art exhibitions, including related interdisciplinary programs and she will lead creative direction in planning and implementation of the Institute’s largest fundraiser, the Tephra Fine Arts Festival, formerly the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. 

”Hannah is a bright and visionary curator, arts advocate, artist, and thought leader in the field. She stood out amongst a strong list of candidates with her genuine passion for artists, audience engagement, and belief in art being a critical contributor to public discourse,” says Jaynelle Hazard, Executive Director and Curator at Tephra ICA. “At a moment when the institution is extending its reach and impact, Hannah will continue to advance that trajectory, and I look forward to her making her mark in the region.” 

Barco will begin her new role on November 29 and will be relocating to the DC metropolitan region. 

 About Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

Tephra ICA is a non-profit, non-collecting institution committed to promoting innovative contemporary art and thinking. Leading with curiosity and care, the organization is a catalyst, generator, and advocate for visual arts. 

Tephra ICA is supported in part by ArtsFairfax, Reston Community Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 


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