A New Year of Fellowship

Camille May

Left to right: Charmaine Branch, Anaïs Duplan, and Nectar Knuckles, 2017–18 The Studio Museum in Harlem/Museum of Modern Art Fellows 

This two-year fellowship allows for emerging arts professionals to spend one year at each museum, working in the Curatorial Department or Education and Public Programs. Fellows participate in professional development, engage in independent research, and work directly with artists to create dynamic programs. Charmaine Branch, Anaïs Duplan, and Nectar Knuckles are the Studio Museum’s three new fellows, and they each have an interest in learning more about the relationship between institutional departments. Here, Branch, Duplan, and Knuckles talk about their professional backgrounds and themselves, as well as their hopes for the program. The discussion has been edited and condensed for clarity.


What drew you to the Studio Museum?

Anaïs Duplan: I am interested in cultural production and representation, so The Studio Museum in Harlem is a dream institution for me. I’ve wanted to work here for a while.

Charmaine Branch: I visited the Museum for the first time when I was seventeen, and since then I wanted to work in a museum like this. I love that the Studio Museum presents such nuanced and diverse perspectives on Black people and Black culture.

Nectar Knuckles: I went to college locally and had attended several Museum events in the past. The Studio Museum helped expose me to artists of African descent.


Why did you choose your department?

NK: [I chose to work in Curatorial because] a curator’s work expands public consciousness. Curators have a brilliant capacity to prompt visitors to see their own identities and other identities in new ways. They create opportunities for empathy.

AD: Easy. The people! The artwork will always be there, but the people won’t. Public Programs provides an opportunity to bring an audience to the artist and the artist to an audience. It creates a moment around the art.


Who are some of your favorite artists?

NK: Jean Michel Basquiat is my all-time favorite. I also love Martine Syms, Henry Taylor, Carrie Mae Weems, and Tabita Rezaire.

CB: Betye Saar, Ana Mendieta, and Adrian Piper for their influential works in the last quarter of the twentieth century. I also find Alison Janae Hamilton and Leslie Hewitt—both alumni of the Artist-in-Residence program at the Studio Museum—very inspiring.

AD: Sondra Perry and American Artist are two artists I’ve been interested in lately.



Dessane Cassell, Curatorial Fellow, and Henry Murphy, Public Programs Fellow, were two fellowship participants in the inaugural class who recently completed the second year of their program at the Studio Museum. Below, they share insights on the fellowship and reflect on their experiences.


What were some of your crowning achievements at the Studio Museum?

Henry Murphy: I organized the Jamel Shabazz artist talk. He has a relationship with the Museum, but he hadn’t had his own space to be recognized yet. It was great to celebrate him in that sense, and the environment we created for that event felt like a true community space.

Dessane Cassell: I helped to prepare the exhibition Fictions from start to finish, and I also assisted with the [forthcoming] publication. Working under Connie [Choi, Associate Curator, Permanent Collection] and Hallie [Ringle, Assistant Curator] was an honor.


Will you share some advice for the newest fellows and future fellows?

DC: Get to know as many people as you can at the Museum. Some of my greatest learning experiences were outside of my direct relationships. Put yourself out there and go to everything!

HM: There is freedom within the structure, and your work is what you choose to make it. Both the Studio Museum and MoMA have tons of resources, so be self-starting.



— Camille May