May 2019 – Northwest & Pacific Notes

by Theodora Dracopoulos Argue


Dr. Theresa Papanikolas is the recently appointed Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), announced by a SAM press release in October 2018. Dr. Papanikolas is an expert in 20th Century American art. As stated, “she will oversee the development, research, presentation, and care of SAM’s collection of American art. She will also organize exhibitions that explore new and challenging narratives of American art and connect it to the contemporary moment.”

The press release also quoted Kimerly Rorschach, Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO: “We’re thrilled that Theresa will be joining us here at SAM. She’s an inspired curator who will continue to build on the wonderful American art program started in 2004 by Patricia Junker. She has broad expertise in European as well as American art and brings an exciting vision of deepening the connections between American art and other areas of SAM’s incredibly diverse collection. Her work will be essential to furthering our curatorial mission to initiate conversations that connect art to our visitors’ own experiences.”

Dr. Papanikolas was most recently at the Honolulu Museum of Art as Deputy Director of Art and Programs. Per the Press Release, while in Hawaii, she was in charge of several major exhibits: From Whistler to Warhol: Modernism on Paper (2010), Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures (2013), Art Deco Hawaii (2014), Abstract Expressionism: Looking East from the Far West (2017). She also worked with the New York Botanical Garden as a co-curator on Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii.

Prior to Honolulu and SAM, Dr. Papanikolas was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art; as well as Rice University, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The SAM Press Release also stated that Dr. Papanikolas has “…expertise in 19th– and 20th– century art, and has published widely on Dada and Surrealism.” She holds her B.A. from USC and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. In 2016, Dr. Papanikolas was a fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

In a recent interview with The Hellenic Journal, Dr. Papanikolas said plans are on the drawing board to mount exhibits of “major American artists, including Northwest artists.”

Dr. Papanikolas was asked if there was anything that she would like to share with Greek-Americans; she encourages them to support the arts and enjoy art galleries and museums in their cities, and therein experience various cultures.

Congratulations and best wishes to Dr. Papanikolas and her husband as they settle into mainland living.


Email the author: Theodora Argue

Lead Ad

More from Northwest & Pacific Notes