Emily Zimmerman is a curator and writer based in Seattle. In 2017 she became Director + Curator of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington’s School of Art + Art History + Design, where she advocates for artists, uses an expansive intersectional lens to advance racial and gender equity, and works with students to become active participants in today’s arts ecology. 

During her tenure at the gallery, Emily has increased support for BIPOC artists through new and expanded commissions, including the Jacob Lawrence Residency, which supports the creation of new work by Black artists from around the country, and an annual curatorial fellowship for BIPOC graduate students. In 2015 she launched MONDAY, a W.A.G.E.-certified journal that presents experiments in arts writing twice each year. She has forged a number of institutional partnerships, including a multi-year residency with the Black Embodiments Studio, a critical arts writing incubator and public lecture series dedicated to expansive, dynamic investigations of Blackness in contemporary art. In total, she has curated more than 50 exhibitions and commissions with artists such as Gordon Hall, Melvin Moti, Kerry Tribe, Danny Giles, and Marisa Williamson. She has also produced 200+ events, including lecture series, film series, performance festivals, and workshops. Prior to joining the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Emily served as the Associate Curator of Programs at the Henry Art Gallery, where much of her work focused on building external partnerships and offering accessible off-site programming. She began her curatorial career as the Assistant Curator at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), commissioning new work from artists such as Melvin Moti, Ryan & Trevor Oakes, and Gordon Hall. Emily’s writing has appeared in BOMB and Contemporary Performance, and she has served on review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, and the Herb Alpert Awards, among others. Emily earned her MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and her BA from New York University.

Photo credit: Megumi Shauna Arai

Curriculum Vitae

2007, Masters of Arts, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College
2002, Bachelors of Arts, New York University

Professional Experience
Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington
Director + Curator

Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington
Associate Curator of Public Programs

Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer
Curatorial Assistant; Assistant Curator

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Curatorial and archival assistant, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art

Curatorial Intern

Program and Editorial Assitant

Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
Curatorial Intern

Creative Time
Curatorial Intern

Location One
Program Assistant


Reviewer for the 2021 Creative Capitol Awards
Advisory board for the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design

Panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Museums Panel
Juror for the James W. Ray Award, from The Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium
Committee member for the Seattle Arts Leadership Team (SALT)
Advisory board for the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design

Juror Gallery 4Culture 2018-2019 Season
Panelist for On the Boards NW New Works Festival
Advisory board for the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design

Panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Media Arts Panel
Juror for INTERSTATE, Sarah Spurgeon Gallery, Central Washington University
Advisory board for the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design

Juror for the TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival
Career Incentive Fund Grant from the New Foundation Seattle
Panelist for the Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts
Banff Centre Literary Arts Residency

Curatorial team member for 9E2 Seattle festival
Reviewer for the MAP Fund
Participant in PICA’s Creative Exchange Lab
Board of Directors, Wave Farm (Acra, NY)

Panelist for NYSCA’s Electronic Media & Film Grant Program

Curator-in-Residence, Residency Unlimited
Panelist for NYSCA’s Electronic Media & Film Grant Program
Panelist for NYSCA’s Individual Artists Grant Program

Panelist for NYSCA’s Media Distribution Grant

Lori Ledis Curatorial Fellow, BRIC Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, NY
Two-week curatorial residency in Busan, Korea at Space Bandee

Awarded Best Emerging Curator by the editors of the Metroland.

Speaking Engagements

Moderator, “Voices + Voids: Reclaiming and Transcoding Our Data as Performance” with University of Washington Assistant Professors Audrey Desjardins, Afroditi Psarra, and Bonnie Whiting on November 20, 2020.

Moderator, “Local Voices: Collaboration at the University of Washington” Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Art Curators Conference 2020 online on May 4, 2020.

Conversation, “Multiple Voices to Build Inclusion” organized by the Association of Art Museum Curators at the Seattle Art Museum on November 13, 2018.

Conversation,Lauren Mackler + Emily Zimmerman (with special guest Cally Spooner)” for the Seattle Art Fair Talks on artist experiments with public access television on August 5, 2016.

Moderator, “Looking Back to Look Forward: Art & Technology” at General Assembly as part of Made in Seattle Week on June 11, 2016.

Talk, “Commissioning new work at the intersection of art, science, and technology,” Microsoft’s Studio 99, December 9, 2015.

Talk, “The Museum of Obsolescence,” The Lost Museum Symposium, Brown University, May 6 – 8, 2015.

Talk, “Skins, Screens, and Interface: Artbreak with Emily Zimmerman” Henry Art Gallery, February 7, 2015.

Moderator, “The Jaffe Colloquium: Held in Trust” at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, on May 1-2, 2014.

Talk, “Held in Trust” at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on March 27, 2014.

Panelist, “Feminism, Technology, and Visuality,” as part of the Now! Visual Culture conference at New York University on June 2, 2012.

Moderator, “The Periphery of Perception” panel discussion with Ryan and Trevor Oakes, Michael Benson, and Damien James at EMPAC on April 18, 2012.

Talk, “New York Performance Art Since 1960,” at Dongeui University Art Department (Busan, Korea), October 11, 2011.

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