Faculty & Advisors




José Ruiz
Director & Faculty, MFA in Curatorial Practice

José Ruiz is a Peruvian-born curator working between Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York. He is the Director of the MFA in Curatorial Practice program at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as well as full-time faculty. His projects have been exhibited in most major American cities and internationally in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. As an independent curator, Ruiz has produced exhibitions for the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo de Arte de El Salvador, Incheon Biennial, School 33 Art Center, and Queens Museum, to name a few. In New York, he is a partner and co-director of Present Co.—a Brooklyn-based gallery. His practice has been the subject of various publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, Arte Al Dia, Artnet, and The Washington Post. He received an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in Painting and Latin American Studies from University of Maryland.  
Contact: jruiz01@mica.edu

Jeffry Cudlin
Interim Director (AY23) & Faculty

Washington, DC-based artist, critic, and curator Jeffry Cudlin serves as Professor of Curatorial Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. Cudlin previously served as Director of Exhibitions for the Arlington Arts Center (AAC) in Arlington, Virginia, and as a member of the Board of Trustees for The Contemporary, Baltimore’s nomadic art museum without walls. For his exhibitions and programs at AAC, he was awarded a two-year grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Cudlin's work as an artist and curator has been reviewed in the Washington Post, Art Papers, and Art in America. His exhibition reviews have appeared in the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post, and Sculpture Magazine. In 2009 and 2008, he was awarded back-to-back First Place Altweekly Awards for Arts Criticism in papers with circulations greater than 50,000.

Contact: jcudlin@mica.edu


Jackie Milad
Seminar I + II Professor

Jackie Milad is a practicing visual artist and independent curator based in Baltimore City. She began her curatorial career as a co-founder of the Transmodern Festival, an artist-run performance art and experimental media festival. More recently, Milad served as the Chief Curator for The Delaware Contemporary in Wilmington, Delaware. She has also held the position of Gallery Curator for the Adele H. Stamp Student Union's Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland in College Park.  She earned her MFA from Towson University and her BFA from the School of Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University.



Lily Siegel
Seminar III Co-Professor

Lily Siegel is Hamiltonian Artists’ first Executive Director. Before joining Hamiltonian, she was Executive Director and Curator at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (formerly Greater Reston Arts Center), Reston, Virginia, and has held curatorial positions at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Siegel earned her MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the University of California, San Diego.



Tomora Wright
Seminar III Co-Professor

Tomora Wright is a dedicated arts manager and curator committed to advancing the contemporary art field by prioritizing intersectional representation and diversifying program and engagement strategies within art institutions. She holds a master's degree in Art Management from American University and a BA in Communications. Before joining Arlington County Public Art, she worked as the Marketing Manager at Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center, Glen Echo Park's Visual Arts Exhibition Manager, both in Maryland, and most recently served as Fellowship Director at Hamiltonian Artists. Wright has curated exhibitions in the DC region at Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center (2018), College Park, Maryland's MilkBoy ArtHouse (2018), Banneker– Douglass Museum (2020), Higgins Gallery (2020), Glen Echo Park (2019–2021), Hamiltonian Gallery (2021), BlackRock Center Center for the Arts, The Kreeger Museum (2022). 


Babette Pendleton
Practicum I + II Co-Professor

Babette DeLafayette Pendleton creates activated environments, immersive installations, and performances through her multidisciplinary work as an artist, curator-producer, and researcher. Her current research focuses on reconfiguring contractual agreements inside collecting and commissioning initiatives for Live Art and Performance. In her role as the Exhibition and Programming Associate for the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Pendleton collaborates with stakeholders to produce the school’s student exhibitions and central events such as exhibit openings, special lectures and the annual NEXT exhibition. She is the lead in planning teams for exhibition and gallery development, budgets, installations and workflows, and oversees the technical guidance and training of students, contractors, speakers, volunteers, preparators, installers, researchers and staff. Pendleton is also currently the director of Yellow Fish Durational Performance Art Festival. The festival brings awareness to the significance and study of Time while facilitating community involvement in historical and contemporary thought surrounding Durational Performance Art. Pendleton maintains a rigorous performance and land art practice utilizing forms of movement, sculpture, and photography. She holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts and an MFA in Curatorial Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

Margaret MacDonald
Thesis II Co-Professor

Margaret G. MacDonald is a chemist, curator, and educator whose practice focuses on the intersection of art, science, and culture. She is driven by questions of what art/science research can be and how the exhibition space functions as a site for new modes of experimentation and research. In addition to curating the Unravel the Code final exhibition since 2016, she conducts research on NMR spectroscopy for the U.S. Army Futures Command and teaches part-time at MICA. She holds a MFA in Curatorial Practice from MICA, a PhD in Chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill, and BA in Art History and in Chemistry from Grinnell College. She has been previously appointed as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Conservation Science at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Science at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and a curatorial intern at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Jessica Solomon
Thesis III + IV Co-Professor

Jessica (Jess) Solomon is a facilitator, organizational development practitioner, and cultural worker supporting changemakers in the social justice, arts & culture ecosystem. She has spent over a decade as Principal of Art in Praxis, experimenting with applied creativity in organizational development (OD) interventions for cultural institutions, foundations, and social justice organizations. Jess earned an MS in Organization Development from American University and BA's in Communication Studies and African American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a past Board President of southern-based artist/activist network Alternate ROOTS, and Chief Weaver of Social Fabric at the US Department of Arts and Culture. Recent fellowships include National Arts Strategies, Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Change Leaders in Philanthropy. She's a contributor to Animating Democracy's "Aesthetic Perspectives," a dynamic evaluation framework for socially engaged art and currently serves as a Black Women of Print and Impact Hub Baltimore board member.

Rhea Beckett
Thesis I & Intercultural Practices Co-Professor

Rhea Beckett is a curator and fifth generation educator whose practice centers knowledge sharing and collaboration. In addition to teaching at MICA, Rhea is also an adjunct professor of African American art history at Fisk University (Nashville, TN) and Trinity Washington (Washington, DC). She is the Founding Director of Black Artist Research Space (BARS), a hub for creativity, scholarship, and imagination located in Baltimore, MD. Rhea received her BA in Art from Fisk University and her MFA in Curatorial Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art. She is a classically trained pianist and vocalist who sings in four languages, and was a member of the Grammy Award-winning Fisk Jubilee Singers from 2009–2013.



Nicolás Rodriguez Melo
Intercultural Practices Co-Professor

Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Nico Rodriguez Melo is a curator and arts administrator interested in the potential of curatorial practices, site-specific interventions and printed publications as strategies for social change. In 2011 he co-founded the nonprofit organization SUR (formerly known as 4-18) and currently serves as co-director. Rodriguez Melo has resided in the US since 2016, where he has continued to work in the intersection of artistic practices and social change at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Maryland Institute College of Art, and currently at Philadelphia-based Monument Lab.


Hayelin Choi
Intercultural Practices Co-Professor

Hayelin Choi is a mission-driven designer, illustrator, and educator, with a passion for celebrating diverse cultures and local communities. Her work is guided by a strong belief in making information more accessible for all. She is the author and/or illustrator of five children’s books published in South Korea, China, and the US. She is currently working as a freelance designer and illustrator focusing on educational and non-profit organizations. Some of her collaborators include: Amnesty International, UNICEF, Microsoft, The Johns Hopkins University, The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Readers to Eaters, Highlights for Children, City Parks Foundation, Radish Lab, and Teal Media.




Affiliated Faculty, Advisors & Mentors

George Ciscle
Founder, MFA in Curatorial Practice; Curator-in-Residence Emeritus

George Ciscle has mounted groundbreaking exhibitions and taught courses in the fine arts and humanities for over 45 years. He was the founder and director of The Contemporary, an “un-museum,” which challenges existing conventions for exhibiting art in temporary non-traditional sites. In 1996, he introduced and taught MICA’s Exhibition Development Seminar until 2008—an undergraduate exhibition-making course that still runs to this day.  From 1997-2017, he served as MICA's Curator-in-Residence, consulting on the development of community-based and public programming focused on exploring new models for connecting art, artists, and audiences. From 2011-16, Ciscle directed and taught in the MFA in Curatorial Practice program, developing new models for connecting art, artists, and audiences.

Megan Steinman is a Los Angeles-based independent curator, writer, and producer with over 20 years of experience in the arts, entertainment, and culture industries. From 2015-2020, she served as the Director of The Underground Museum in Los Angeles. Megan has organized exhibitions, art installations, and events at institutions around the world, including Dolby Gallery, Museo Pecci Milano, Sonos Studio Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, District Berlin, ICA Boston, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Megan holds a Master of Public Art Studies from the University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Art. Prior to graduate school, she was the Creative Director for Capitol Records. From 2000-2004, Megan was the chief researcher, producer, and artist liaison for photographer Annie Leibovitz’s book “American Music.”

Melani Douglass is the Director of Public Programs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC where she cultivates a network of diverse constituents through community partnerships and collaborations. She also heads the groundbreaking Women, Arts and Social Change initiative, which elevates museum programming to a new standard with curated conversations, communal dinners and transformative events.

Prior to her position at NMWA, Douglass founded the Family Arts Museum, a nomadic institution that celebrates and documents family as fine art. Douglass has over ten years of experience engaging communities through the arts. Douglass holds a Master of Fine Arts in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art. A native Baltimorean, she is also a proud mother and educator.

Christopher K. Ho (b. 1974, Hong Kong) picks up threads of 1990s identity politics and weaves them into unlikely new patterns. His solo show Grown Up Art (2016, Present Co., NY) explored the political potential of parenthood. Demoiselles d'Avignon (2013, Y Gallery, NY) refracted Western abstraction through the eyes of a future class of refined Chinese princelings, while Privileged White People (2013, Forever & Today, NY) examined the sensibility of artists who grew up during the affluent Clinton presidency. He has had additional solo exhibitions at Winkleman Gallery, NY (2010, 2008); FJORD, Philadelphia (2013); and Galeria EDS, Mexico City (2009). His work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Modern Painters, Artforum, LEAP, Hyperallergic, RanDian, and ArtReview. He participated in the Incheon Biennial (2009), the Chinese Biennial Beijing (2008), and the Busan Biennale (2008), and produced site-specific pieces for Storm King (2013) and the Cranbrook Art Museum (2011), where he was the 2010 Critical Studies Fellow. 

Joy Davis is the Director of Waller Gallery and Manager of Adult and Community Programs at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She founded Waller Gallery in 2018. She also works as a host and producer for Unravel Podcast, a fashion history and culture podcast. In 2015, she joined the Costume Society of America and from 2017-2018 was the Vice President of its Mid-Atlantic regional chapter. Her scholarly projects include subject matter that is underdeveloped in academia and transcends many fields of study: fashion, history, art, media, and performance among people of color throughout history. She received her B.A. degrees in History and Media Studies from the University of Maryland, and her M.A. in Fashion and Museum Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.


Darren Jones is a Scottish critic, curator, and artist. His writing has appeared in Artforum, ArtUS, Artslant, and New Art Examiner. Curatorial and artistic projects have been covered in The Guardian, Artforum.com, Huffington Post, The Brooklyn Rail, and Scotland on Sunday. Jones’ book, The Contemporary Art Gallery: Display, Power and Privilege, (co-authored with David Carrier) was published in 2016; in 2018 he was a recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant; in 2020 he will be the critic-in-residence at SPACES in Cleveland. Jones gained a BA from Central Saint Martins College, London; and received his MFA from Hunter College, New York.


Lindsay Smilow is an artist, educator, arts administrator, and project manager. She has spent the majority of her career managing education programs at New York City institutions, namely, The Queens Museum and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She is a teaching artist for students of all ages and has presented nationally at museum and arts conferences. She is insatiably curious about humanity and what brings communities together, creating experiences for people to connect in and around works of art. Currently, Lindsay is consulting on new initiatives for nonprofit arts organizations and businesses. She received a BA in both Art History and Sculpture from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her personal work and MA from CUNY Brooklyn College investigates the intersection of art and stand-up comedy.

Emmy Catedral (b. Butuan City, 1982) is an artist and writer. She presents collaborative work as The Explorers Club of Enrique de Malacca and The Amateur Astronomers Society of Voorhees, and performs as Y2K (with Carlos Rigau and Jocelyn Spaar). Work has been presented at Queens Museum, The New York Historical Society, LaMama Experimental Theater Club, Primetime, Columbia University's Wallach Art Gallery and Department of Astronomy, Center for Book Arts, and Akron Art Museum (forthcoming), among others. Readings and performances have been presented at Recess, 601 Artspace, Wendy's Subway, The Segue Reading Series, Present Co. and other unnamed and temporarily named sites. After nearly a decade at Distributed Art Publishers where she worked with small press, independent, and non-profit publishers, Emmy is currently the Fairs & Editions Coordinator at Printed Matter, Inc. She is also co-librarian of the bi-coastal and mobile Pilipinx American Library.

Andrea Dietz is an architect, curator, and writer. She is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Exhibition Design at The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University. Her creative and scholarly practice is focused on “architecture(s) of and on display” – or the translation and exhibition of the built environment. Through “architecture(s) of and on display,” she advocates for diversifying the representations of architecture and design (defined in terms of both authorship and expression). Andrea has worked in architecture research and exhibition design with Bestor Architecture, Chu + Gooding Architects, and independently. She has a background in cross-border exhibition and event production with Estudio Teddy Cruz and Kyong Park. She has taught foundation architecture studios with Cal Poly Pomona and was a longtime associate of Woodbury School of Architecture, where she coordinated a multi-million dollar federal grant, led graduate program curriculum development, oversaw digital fabrication facility improvements and operations, and delivered coursework in research methodologies and theory.