HARRISONBURG — With an academic background in cross disciplinary studies, Beth Hinderliter is hoping to bring a fresh approach to running James Madison University’s Duke Hall Gallery.
Hinderliter officially began her new role as the gallery’s director and chief curator on July 1, replacing John Ros, who served in the position for the last two years. She will be the gallery’s fourth director in its history.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase contemporary art and to work directly with artists,” Hinderliter said. “I was very excited when this job became open. We were very sorry to see John go because he brought quite a lot of energy to the space.”
Ros stepped down in June to move back to his home in New York City. During his tenure, the gallery, located in Duke Hall at 820 S. Main St., began participating in the city’s First Fridays. He also implemented Saturday gallery hours to draw more visitors to the space.
Hinderliter plans to continue to grow Duke Hall Gallery and expand its reach in the community.
“There’s a lot of things happening here; it’s not just all in the Forbes Center,” she said. “Duke Hall should be a place that attracts new visitors.”
One of her priorities is to make sure each exhibition is cataloged in order to develop the profile of the exhibits, she said.
She also wants to enhance the gallery’s internship program by partnering with the city’s high schools through JMU’s Valley Scholars program, as well as having international students work in the gallery.
Hinderliter also hopes to work with area elementary schools to arrange field trips to the gallery and “figure out ways to get school students here and others in the community who might not come for First Friday,” she said.
The Charlotte, North Carolina native graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in art history in 2008. She taught art history for nine years at SUNY Buffalo State in New York. Since the fall of 2017, Hinderliter has served as a visiting associate professor in art history and as an affiliate faculty member in JMU’s School of Art, Design and Art History.
Hinderliter is currently co-editing a book with Steve Peraza called “More than the Pain: Affect and Emotion in the Black Lives Matter Movement,” as well as “(Re)framing the Feminine: Women’s Studies, Feminism, Gender Identity and the Academy,” co-edited with Noelle Chaddock.
In addition to art history, she’s taught courses in feminist art in the women’s and gender studies program, museum studies and Africana studies, which is now known as African, African-American and Diaspora Studies, all of which are housed within cross disciplinary studies.
Hinderliter is no stranger to curatorial practice. She was a curator at the campus museum at SUNY Buffalo State and worked at a commercial gallery in New York City, in addition to freelancing with the Guggenheim Museum.
Her first involvement with Duke Hall Gallery occurred in March of this year when she co-curated the exhibit, “Colonial Wounds/Postcolonial Repair.”
The exhibit examined the physical, social and psychological wounds that colonial soldiers faced during World War I, featuring film, photography, illustrations, historical documents and an installation by Algerian artist Amina Menia.
“That was a really fantastic opportunity where we were able to have the artist create a new piece so, I think that’s the really exciting thing about Duke Hall Gallery is that there’s a lot of flexibility to bring regional artists, or international artists, to showcase new work, or maybe even commission the creation of new works,” Hinderliter said. “I was just very excited by that capacity to see four, five, six shows realized a year.”
Although the exhibits for this upcoming school year have already been determined, Hinderliter is already getting a jump on booking artists for the following school year.
Hinderliter said she is looking forward to this year’s schedule of exhibitions, which begins with “Edge Walkers,” featuring the work of Tanya Aguiñiga, a Los Angeles-based artist and designer.
“We have, at the start of the year, a design exhibit, which I’m very happy about because I don’t think necessarily that art galleries often have a lot of design works and we don’t want to overlook that,” she said. “I’m really happy we’re getting to focus on design at the starting point of the semester.”
“Edge Walkers” opens Sept. 10 and is curated by Keenan Rowe, the digital design and fabrication manager in SADAH.
Hinderliter is also eager about the planned faculty exhibit.
“From the time I’ve been here for two years there hasn’t been one so it’ll be a great chance to showcase all of the works from all of the talent here,” she said.