Asia Society Texas Welcomes Owen Duffy as New Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions
HOUSTON, November 9, 2022 — Asia Society Texas (AST) announces the appointment of Owen Duffy, Ph.D., as the organization’s new Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions. Duffy comes to Asia Society Texas from St. John’s University’s Yeh Art Gallery where he served as its director since 2019, leading the institution through physical renovations to the exhibition spaces and the creation of a new exhibition program around the theme of diplomacy. During his tenure he organized more than 20 exhibitions, including Lain Singh Bangdel: Moon over Kathmandu, the first solo museum exhibition outside Nepal of the country’s preeminent modern artist Lain Singh Bangdel (1919-2002).
“We are thrilled to welcome Owen to Houston and into the Asia Society family,” says Bonna Kol, Asia Society Texas President. “His passion for our mission and deep commitment to artists and their artistic development will be a tremendous addition to the community and our organization.”
Overseeing 4-6 exhibitions per year for the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery and Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall, Duffy will have the opportunity to add to the stellar history of exhibitions organized by AST since its opening in 2012 including: Treasures of Asian Art: A Rockefeller Legacy April–October 2012; Mel Chin: Rematch January–April 2015; The Other Side: Mexican and Chinese Immigration to America March–July 2015; New Cartographies September–March 2019; Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form: Works by Miya Ando November 2019 – March 2020; and Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes February–November 2020. In addition, Duffy will oversee the continued development of AST’s Artists on Site residency initiative that provides support to local artists.
"I am deeply excited to work with Houston’s vibrant and cosmopolitan community and participate in the city’s unparalleled cultural life,” says Duffy. “It will be an honor to contribute to AST’s mission of increasing understanding of — and exchange with — Asia, in all its breadth and complexity. I believe art is an incredible agent of diplomacy and cultural exchange, and at AST I will endeavor to promote an artist-centered exhibition program that emphasizes this potential."
Alongside programming focused on business and policy, the performing arts, and education, exhibitions at AST offer a unique opportunity to uplift diverse perspectives and shine light onto the talents and traditions of artists across cultures, centuries, and mediums. Christopher K. Ho, Artist and Executive Director of Asia Art Archive states, “With Asia Society Texas’ appointment of Owen Duffy, Houston’s artists and diverse communities gain a passionate ally, a bridge builder, and a global advocate. I am excited for Owen’s prowess as a creative interlocutor to propel AST into its next chapter.”
About Owen Duffy
Owen Duffy is an art historian, curator, and writer with a decade of curatorial and fundraising experience in museums. Duffy will relocate to Houston in November 2022 and holds a B.A. in Art History and Studio Art (double major) from the University of Maryland. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern and Contemporary Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied under the noted art historian and curator Robert Hobbs and the late eminent scholar of Himalayan art Dina Bangdel. His thesis and dissertation research on Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor was funded by the Henry Moore Foundation.
After working as a Curatorial Assistant at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Duffy was selected as a fellow for the 2016 Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course. He then moved to New York City and became a development officer for the Museum of Arts and Design, raising funds for the museum’s exhibition program. Since 2019, Duffy served as the Director of St. John’s University’s Yeh Art Gallery and was tasked with revitalizing this academic center located in Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Duffy oversaw physical renovations to the exhibition spaces and the creation of a new website and visual identity for the gallery, started a fundraising operation, and developed a new exhibition program around the theme of diplomacy that expanded on the building’s history as a Center for Asian Studies built during the Cold War.
During his tenure, he organized more than 20 exhibitions, including Lain Singh Bangdel: Moon over Kathmandu, the first solo museum exhibition outside Nepal of the country’s preeminent modern artist Lain Singh Bangdel (1919-2002), which was accompanied by the first art historical monograph on Bangdel’s work (edited by Duffy). Other notable projects include Fevzi Yazici: DARK WHITE, the first art exhibition by Turkish political prisoner and visual journalist Fevzi Yazici and travelled to the Hillstrom Museum of Art; and group exhibitions that engaged pressing issues of our times such as Diplomacy, which considered soft power and U.S.-China relations, as well as From Confucius to Christ, which examined the role of spirituality and religion in contemporary art. Duffy’s exhibitions at the Yeh earned press in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hyperallergic, The Art Newspaper, Brooklyn Rail, and Art in America, among others. He spearheaded community partnerships with such organizations as Asia Art Archive in America, China Institute, and Queens Public Library. Under Duffy’s leadership, the Yeh’s attendance increased over 40 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
In addition, Duffy has published scholarship on the work of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, and Nepali performance artist Ashmina Ranjit. Among other publications, his writing about contemporary art has appeared ArtReview, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Artforum, Art & Education, frieze, Momus, Journal of Curatorial Studies, and BOMB.
He is a member of the American Council for Southern Asian Art, the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, and he graduated from Asia Art Archive in America’s Leadership Camp.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.