Isabella Ellaheh Hughes is a curator and critic, who also consults on curatorial, artistic and cultural projects. She has international experience in both the commercial and non-profit art world and has worked for or in collaboration with a variety of museums, art fairs, galleries and cultural organizations in the US, UK and United Arab Emirates. She is a co-founder and co-curator of the Mobile Art Gallery (MAG) and serves as the United Arab Emirates Desk Editor for ArtAsiaPacific and an Editorial Correspondent for Ibraaz.
Hughes is a skilled project manager with experience successfully developing and leading curatorial and cultural projects from conception through completion and has curated exhibitions for a variety of organizations in the US and UAE. Recent exhibitions include: “A Most Precarious Relationship: Artists, Audiences and Interactive Art in the Emirates” at Maraya Art Center, Sharjah, UAE (2012); “Beyond the Frame: Contemporary Art in the Emirates,” for the United States Embassy to the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi (2011-2012); the two-site contemporary indigenous Hawaiian art exhibition, “This IS Hawai’i” at Transformer and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC (2011); the traveling show (co-curated with Barbara Petro Escobar) on Iranian-American art, “I RAN Home (In America) at the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), Seattle (2010) and the Fridge Gallery, Washington, DC (2009); and the international contemporary photography show highlighting pieces from the New School University’s art collection, themed on exploring notions of the ‘other,’ “Agency” at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, New York, New York (2007).
As a writer, curator and producer, Hughes focuses on contemporary art from the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. She has a deep interest in the rise of transculture and the global nomad artist, the role of public art in society and genres of new media and interactive contemporary art.
A frequent panelist and moderator on contemporary art, cultural diplomacy and the Middle Eastern art scene, Hughes has spoken at: the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in the USA at the German Marshall Fund, Washington, DC, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Transformer, Washington, DC, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, the Cafesjian Museum, Yerevan, Armenia, ArtRole Women in Action Conference, Irbil, Iraq, the Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait, at the 7th Harvard Arab Alumni Conference in Abu Dhabi, Traffic, Dubai, the Beirut Art Fair and Maraya Art Center, Sharjah.
Hughes has a BA in Art History from Boston University and an MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. During the summer of 2011 she was selected as a participant in the Art School and Curatorial Training School, AICA, Yerevan, Armenia. Hughes has served as a nominator for the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship Program and Abraaj Capital Art Prize, is on the jury for the YICCA 2013 International Contest of Contemporary Art and is an invited curator for Vienna Art Week 2013 Meet Art program.
In addition to curating her own independent projects and writing, she also offers art, curatorial and cultural project consultancy services to: museums, galleries, collectors, non-profit arts organizations and corporate and private collections.