following johnston marklee’s direction of the chicago architecture biennial 2017, chicago-based curator and writer yesomi umolu has been announced as the artistic director for 2019. umolu’s background in architectural design and curatorial studies has informed her work, which focuses on global contemporary art and spatial practices.


‘I am honored to be invited to serve as artistic director of the 2019 chicago architecture biennial,’ she says. ‘having my roots in the field of architecture, spatial questions have always been an important consideration of my work with contemporary artists, architects, and urbanists from across the world. I am excited to embark on the journey of engaging the city of chicago and its public, as well as visitors to chicago from across the country and around the world, in these conversations.’

yesomi umolu at the chicago cultural center
photo by andrew bruah, courtesy the chicago architecture biennial



umolu serves as exhibitions curator at the reva and david logan center for the arts at the university of chicago, and is a visiting lecturer, critic, and speaker at a number of international universities and institutions. recent projects have explored the politics of the built environment, a theme she will bring to the chicago architecture biennial 2019. umolu’s vision is highlighted by the study of emerging practices that are developing new approaches to architecture, urbanism, and spatial practice, a thesis that will position the biennial as a forum to investigate creative responses to shifting local, regional, and international conditions.


over the next few months, umolu will formalize an international curatorial team of creatives with strong backgrounds in visual art, architecture, and design. the 2019 edition will be under the leadership of executive director todd palmer, who also served as executive director in 2017. now in its third edition, the biennial will return september 19, 2019, and run through january 5, 2020.

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