Maurita N. Poole, PhD

Director and Chief Curator

Maurita N. Poole holds a doctorate from Emory University in Anthropology. Her curatorial practice is shaped by her training at Williams College Museum of Art, The Walters Art Museum, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

Poole most recently served as director and curator at Clark Atlanta University Art Museum (CAUAM). As director, she strengthened the museum’s infrastructure and provided opportunities for the next generation of museum professionals. She created and managed the Tina Dunkley Fellowship in American Art, a collaborative Diversity in Art Museum Leadership Initiative (DAMLI) involving CAUAM, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), and the Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA). In addition, she developed the “Black Optics Artist Residency,” a platform that connects artists of African descent from the American South and Global South.

Her curatorial projects primarily focus on African and African Diaspora art. Her most recent exhibition is Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation (2023). In 2021, she curated the complementary exhibitions Wilay Mendez Paez: Notes from the Underground and Portals to a New World at The Atlanta Contemporary and CAUAM. Other noteworthy shows include Guy Gabon: L’Autre Bord/The Bridge of Beyond (2020), Crafting for Life (2019), Alfred Conteh: The Sweet Spot (2018), and Frederick D. Jones and The Social Surreal (2017).

She is an alum of the 2020 Center for Curatorial Leadership program.

office: 504-314-2224

Laura Blereau

Curator of Exhibitions

Laura Blereau holds an MFA in New Forms from Pratt Institute, and a BFA in Painting from Louisiana State University. She participated in the Curatorial Intensive Program at Independent Curators International and is a specialist in art and technology, particularly time-based mediums such as new media and software art, kinetic sculpture, and performance.

Since coming to Newcomb Art Museum in 2017, Blereau has curated and co-curated several exhibitions, such as Unthinkable Imagination: A Creative Response to the Juvenile Justice Crisis (2023), Core Memory: Encoded (2022), Laura Anderson Barbata: Transcommunality (2021), Brandan ‘Bmike’ Odums: Not Supposed 2-BE Here (2020), per(Sister): Incarcerated Women of Louisiana (2019), Fallen Fruit: Empire (2018) and Clay in Place (2018).

Previously, Blereau served two years as Curator for the Hilliard Art Museum in Lafayette, and ten years as Director of the Bitforms Gallery in New York. Her interdisciplinary approach to the visual arts has been shaped by formative work experiences at The Kitchen, Marian Goodman Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum; as well as in the art studios of Dorothea Rockburne, Shirin Neshat, Elena del Rivero, and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. Blereau writes frequently on contemporary art and is also an Associate Producer of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s 2010 documentary film, !Women Art Revolution.

office: 504-314-2206

Kendyll Gross

Assistant Curator

Kendyll holds a BA from Emory University and an MA in Art History from The University of Texas at Austin. She previously served as the Curator of Public Programs for the Art Galleries at Black Studies (AGBS) at The University of Texas at Austin. She has also worked with the galleries as the Education and Visitor Services Coordinator and brings museum experience from the Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, TX), Gerald Peters Gallery (Santa Fe, NM), and Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY).

Her public education experience includes researching and preparing lectures for a range of audience that including K-12, university groups, and museum volunteers. In the fall of 2021, she curated her first solo show with AGBS, titled, "The way back home," which featured video and mixed-media works by Austin-based artist Ariel René Jackson.

office: 504-314-2259

Tom Friel

Curator for Interpretation and Public Engagement

Tom Friel received an MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and a BFA in Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. He has exhibited his artwork throughout the U.S and Basel, Switzerland. As an art educator, Friel has taught art classes, art appreciation, and hands-on workshops to children, teens and adults in various media for over fifteen years. Past positions include Instructor at the Mainline Art Center in Haverford, PA, Spiral Q Puppet Theater in Philadelphia, PA, The Fairmount Art Center in Philadelphia, PA, where he also served as Assistant Director, and Cranbrook Summer Art Institute in Bloomfield Hills, MI. For Friel, teaching is an extension of his artistic practice. He has written art criticism for, and, as well as print publications.

office: 504-314-2406

Lexus Dawn Jordan

Community Engagement Coordinator

Lexus Dawn Jordan holds an MA from Louisiana State University and a BA from Xavier University of Louisiana, both in Communication Studies with a concentration in Performance Studies. Her work has been focused on using identity and culture to create narratives for community advocacy.

Previously, Lexus spent over five years as a youth advocate for a local, New Orleans based non-profit organization. Lexus has also worked as an adjunct instructor at Xavier University and Southern University at New Orleans. Lexus currently serves as the youth director and a leadership advisor to her faith-based community.

In her community work, Lexus utilizes one-on-one mentoring and group facilitation as tools for programming and teaching. In her role at NAM, Lexus expands community partnerships and relationships while working to co-create sustainable programs. Lexus is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow.

office: 504-201-1487

Ina Kaur

Curator of Creative Practice

Ina Kaur holds an MFA in Ceramics from Tulane University, an MFA in Printmaking from Purdue University, and a BFA from the Government College of Art in Chandigarh, India. As a maker, educator, and community builder—Ina is driven by a deep-seated desire to address pressing global issues such as political turmoil, ecological imbalances, and social injustice. Whether within her studio or in the community, she engages within the context of decolonial practices to challenge power structures and question prevailing social and cultural norms.

As the Curator of Creative Practice at the Newcomb Art Museum, Ina builds relationships and partnerships with art communities whose work shows an affinity with the museum’s institutional and collection histories. She is responsible for managing a complex set of community stakeholders for the development of artists workshops and community-based arts initiatives focused on ceramics, painting, printmaking, or drawing. Each of these initiatives connect with community stakeholders in different ways - from empowering them as co-creators of the workshops and programs to connecting their work to exhibitions held in NAM’s main gallery.

In 2018, Kaur received the prestigious 2018 Emerging Voice Award from the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University.

office: 504-314-2207

Sherae Rimpsey

Art Writing and Editorial Fellow

Sherae holds a BFA in Technology & Integrated Media with an emphasis in Visual Culture from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As an artist and writer, Sherae has exhibited work in the U.S and internationally including shows at the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, the National Library of Buenos Aires, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany where she was awarded the prestigious solitude fellowship.

Sherae has presented her writing, drawing, film, and performance work at Kentler International Drawing Space in Brooklyn, New York and Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in Ohio. In Chicago, her work has been featured at the South Side Community Arts Center, Film Front, Comfort Station, Experimental Sound Studio, Constellation, and the Harold Washington Library.

Sherae is featured along with Clifford Owens on Kamau Amu Patton’s "Second Mind / Alto Age," a limited-edition artwork and recording commissioned by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, in conjunction with their exhibition, "Terry Adkins: Resounding." She has published poetry in the Oyez Review, Collected, and Homonym Journal. Her first full-length book of poetry—neon neon—is forthcoming from Shinkoyo / Artist Pool. Sherae Rimpsey is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow and in her work with NAM, Sherae has a dual role as the Mildred Thompson Fellow for Arts Papers.

office: 504-865-5361

Sierra Polisar

Collections Manager and Exhibitions Registrar

Sierra Polisar received a B.A. in American Studies from Goucher College and an M.A. in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Her most recent position was as an Assistant Loan’s Registrar at the British Library in London, where she worked on exhibitions including “The Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy” and “West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song.” She collaborated on projects with many notable UK museums, including the British Museum, the Tate Britain and the Bodleian Library. Prior to working in the UK, Sierra worked in Collections Management at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, conducting a collection’s inventory and digitization project. She has also volunteered at The National Archives and at The National Museum of Natural History. Sierra is interested in socially engaged museum practice, and bringing innovation and creativity into collections care. She has researched alternative acquisition processes for performance art and ephemera, and conservation advancements in the preservation of foodstuff as material.

office: 504-247-1577

Stephanee Hinton

Assistant Museum Registrar

Stephanee Hinton received a BA in Art History from Howard University and a MA in Art Galleries and Museum Studies from the University of Manchester. While in graduate school, Stephanee focused her research on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion in arts institutions.

Prior to NAM, Stephanee has worked in museums and galleries including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, The Phillips Collection, Future Everything, and the Howard University Gallery of Art. She continuously works to better understand the intersection of DEAI in museums and collections management.

Stephanee initially joined NAM as the Acquisition and Inventory Technician. In this role, she researched the collection and digitized the museum archives. Currently, she continues the work of researching the collection and making the museum and its history more transparent and accessible to visitors.

office: 504-247-1576

Marylin Mell

Administrative and Budget Coordinator

Marylin Mell received a PhD in Modern and Contemporary Literature alongside Film and Aesthetics from the University of Iowa. She earned a MA in English at the University of Maryland and a BA in English and Psychology from John Carroll University where she served as President of the Honors Program. As the Administrative and Budget Coordinator, Marylin contributes to the overall success of NAM by effectively managing day-to-day operations and financial tasks for the department.

office: 504-247-1575