Heather Pesanti joined the Contemporary Austin in 2013, and was named Chief Curator in 2018. Since then, she has organized monographic exhibitions and outdoor commissions of John Bock, Carol Bove, Anya Gallaccio, Lionel Maunz, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, Monika Sosnowska, Robert Therrien, and Marianne Vitale, with forthcoming solo exhibitions of Abraham Cruzvillegas, Nicole Eisenman, and Torbjørn Rødland. In 2015, she organized Strange Pilgrims, a large-scale, thematic exhibition on experiential art, in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently developing The Sorcerer’s Burden: Contemporary Art and the Anthropological Turn, a large-scale exhibition on the intersection of art and anthropology, opening fall 2019.
From 2008 to 2013, Pesanti was Curator of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York, where she organized collection and special exhibitions including Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s, a historic survey of Buffalo’s dynamic arts scene, and was adjunct professor in the Visual Studies Department at the University at Buffalo. Before joining the Albright-Knox, she was assistant curator of Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art.
Pesanti received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, MSc in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England, and MA in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She has published monographic catalogue essays on Charles Atlas, Rodney McMillian, Angelbert Metoyer, Sofía Táboas, Robert Therrien, and Garth Weiser, and thematic exhibition catalogues for Strange Pilgrims, A Secret Affair: Selections from the Fuhrman Family Collection, Decade: Contemporary Collecting, 2002-2012, Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s, and Life on Mars: 55thCarnegie International.
She has forthcoming catalogues essays for Nicole Eisenman, The Sorcerer’s Burden, and the University of Texas at Austin Black Studies collection. Her exhibitions have received two grants awarded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (for Strange Pilgrims and The Sorcerer’s Burden).