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People

LORELEI STEWART, DIRECTOR

Lorelei Stewart, Director of Gallery 400 since 2000, has organized over 40 exhibitions, including the Joyce Award-winning exhibition Edgar Arceneaux: The Alchemy of Comedy … Stupid (2006). In 2002 she initiated the acclaimed At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series, a commissioning program that encouraged Chicago area artists’ experimental practices. She holds an MA in Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, a BA from Smith College, and a BFA from Corcoran College of Art and Design.

DENNY MWAURA, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Denny Mwaura is the Assistant Director of Gallery 400, UIC. Exhibitions and public programs he has organized and supported include A Species of Theft (2022), Young, Gifted and Black: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art (2021), and Crip* (2022) at Gallery 400; Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines (2022) at the Art Institute of Chicago;  and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich: Speculative Archives (2021) at Conversations at the Edge. He received his MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a recipient of the Schiff Foundation Fellowship for Critical Architectural Writing, an award granted by the Dept. of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago.

NORA JAMES, GRADUATE PROGRAMS STAFF MEMBER

Nora James is an MA student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studying modern and contemporary art history. Her interests include disability studies, museum and exhibition development, and accessibility in cultural spaces. She has held positions in public programming, interpretation, and exhibition development at the Gund Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Most recently, she worked as the Museum Educator at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Cody, Wyoming, where she conducted research on disabled incarcerees in a WWII-era Japanese American incarceration camp. She holds a BA in art history and English from Kenyon College.

AYRIKA HALL, GRADUATE CURATORIAL STAFF MEMBER

Ayrika Hall is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Chicago, specializing in contemporary Black art. Hall’s research explores  Black art’s historiography and its interaction with modern realities, questioning established methods to spotlight its multifaceted connections to society and politics. She has held curatorial, research, and programming roles at the Smart Museum of Art, Anthony Gallery, The Floating Museum, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Hall received her Master’s degree in Art History with a curatorial distinction from the University of Chicago in 2021, and her BA in History of Art and Architecture, Studio Art, and Museum Studies from DePaul University in 2020.

COLBIE SYMONE COOK, GRADUATE COMMUNICATIONS STAFF MEMBER

Colbie Symone Cook is an MA student at the University of Illinois Chicago studying the history and theory of photography in late 19th and 20th century America. Her interests are grounded in constructions of American identities through early modes of portraiture, documentary photography, and post-war absurdity. Most recently, she served as Curatorial Assistant at the Lowe Art Museum working in exhibitions, curatorial and research capacities on multiple exhibitions including Charles White: A Little Higher, American Impressionism: Treasures from the Daywood Collection, and A Fine Line: Highlights from the Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation. She received her BA from Indiana University in English Literature and African American and African Diaspora Studies in 2021.

The UIC Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Award Interns

ALEXEE AITKEN, PROGRAMS UNDERGRADUATE INTERN

Alexee Aitken is a BFA student studying Art Education at the University of Illinois Chicago. Their goal as an educator is to use art to foster community. Alexee is also a Golden Apple Scholar, on track to teach at a school-of-need for five years post graduation. Alexee has worked as a Teen Council Intern at the Art Institute of Chicago, where students created new and unconventional gallery engagements for visitors. They’ve also interned at Enrich Chicago, One Summer Chicago, and After School Matters creating artworks for the south and west sides of the city. As a visual artist, Alexee creates traditional and digital illustrations through their lens as a Black, queer person. They explore Black femininity, familial relationships, and adolescent angst through painting and photography.

AZIZA MUHAMMAD, ARCHIVES UNDERGRADUATE INTERN

Aziza Muhammad is a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She will graduate with her BA in Architectural Studies and a minor in Art History. In her design work she is interested in exploring the relationships between art, identity, and the built environment. Outside of her studies, Aziza has worked as media Intern for the Wright House of Fashion and interdisciplinary education space focused on fashion and design. Currently she interns at the Art Institute of Chicago on the exhibition design team. There she assists in the development and design of upcoming museum exhibitions. She is a member of the Black Student Union, and the Flames leadership Network. Aziza will continue her studies in Architecture with a focus on interiors with the hopes of continuing to work within the intersection of architecture and artistic practice.