Interview with Regina Palm, new Associate Curator of American Art
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego
Written by Cathy Breslaw
November 21, 2018
We don’t typically think of a visit to a museum as being a defining moment in a person’s life. However, for Regina Palm who was recently named the new Associate Curator of American Art at the San Diego Museum of Art, it set the course of her career. While on a elementary school field trip at age 12 to The Huntington near Pasadena, California, Palm was overwhelmed with the beauty of the museum buildings, grounds and the art collection. It was there and then that she decided she wanted her future work to be at a museum.
Though first in her family to work in the arts, her mother exposed her to her hobby of sewing, painting and carving and her father to his passion for studying Nose Art, the not expressly approved decorative designs painted on the fuselage of planes during World War II. It was her love of writing that eventually led Palm to study Art History, Anthropology and Museum Studies at California State University, Chico where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree and then a Masters Degree in Art History at San Jose State University.
While studying at Chico State, Palm fortuitously became aware of the conceptual work of contemporary artist, Barbara Kruger who uses black and white photography overlaid with declarative captions to comment on American social and political culture. Influenced by her father’s interest in propaganda art and the works of other influential women artists like Kruger, Palm began to focus her studies on women artists, especially woman muralists at the end of the 19th to the 20th centuries. Formerly considered a masculine form of artistic production, issues of womens’ sexuality and gender and murals became central to Palm’s study for her PhD in Art History from Birkbeck College, at the University of London.
Prior to her current curatorial position at the SDMA, Palm worked at the Cincinnati Art Museum with 60,000 works in their collection, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth Texas, with 350 works in their collection.
Though identifying herself as a feminist art historian, Palm notes that as curator at the SDMA, her role is focused on the needs and wishes of the greater San Diego community in all its diversity. She is looking to help continue the growth of thought-provoking exhibitions, and to highlight minority artists as well as those that have previously not been given their due.
When asked what she will contribute to the San Diego Museum of Art, Palm commented on her enthusiasm, passion and infectious joy and love she feels for her work to oversee the American Art collection. In addition, she feels a commitment toward helping to provide top-notch programming and exhibitions, as well as contributions to collaborations with museum colleagues.
Learn more about the San Diego Museum of Art HERE.