Mary Evans, Nigerian-Born British Artist, Appointed First Black Director of the Slade School of Fine Art

Mary Evans

UCL Arts & Humanities has officially announced the appointment of esteemed contemporary artist Mary Evans as the new Director of the UCL Slade School of Fine Art, a position she will undertake starting from 4 October 202. Evans, a Nigerian-born British artist, brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the prestigious institution, marking a significant milestone as the first Black person to hold this esteemed position.

Mary Evans takes the reins from Professor Kieren Reed, who successfully steered the Slade through a period marked by challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In her new role, Evans is poised to guide the Slade through a transformative journey, leveraging her rich artistic background and strong commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable educational environment.

Evans arrives at the Slade from Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London (UAL), where she served as the BA Fine Art Course Leader for five years. With prior teaching experience at Central Saint Martins, UAL, she is deeply invested in breaking down barriers to education and expanding access to the arts.

An accomplished artist with an international reputation, Evans studied at Goldsmiths, the University of London, and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Her artistic practice delves into the complex interplay of social, political, geographical, and historical aspects of diaspora, migration, and global exchange. She employs brown kraft paper and other disposable materials to craft large-scale installations that challenge established narratives, often exploring themes of place, belonging, and identity.

As a nod to her impactful work, Evans received the Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, in 2010. Her artistry bridges the gap between Africa and Europe, traversing realms both real and imagined while offering a fresh perspective on historical and contemporary narratives.

Professor Stella Bruzzi, the Executive Dean of UCL Arts & Humanities, expressed her enthusiasm for Evans’ appointment, stating, “Mary brings with her a wealth of experience in terms of her own prolific and celebrated art practice and in her current leadership role at Chelsea. Her Directorship of the Slade will support both the Faculty and wider UCL in our world-leading and interdisciplinary arts and humanities disciplines.”

In her own words, Mary Evans expressed her excitement about her new role: “I am delighted to have been appointed Director of the UCL Slade School of Fine Art. I relish the opportunity afforded me with this appointment to lead staff and students in the community of practice at the Slade and contribute to maintaining and advancing its position as a world-leading art school.”

The artistic community at the Slade School of Fine Art eagerly anticipates the new chapter under Mary Evans’ guidance. Professor Kieren Reed praised the appointment, highlighting, “Mary’s dedication, expertise, and vision have been evident throughout her career, and the Slade community is thrilled to have her lead our School into an exciting new chapter.”

Evans’ leadership is poised to invigorate both faculty and students, propelling the Slade towards new heights of excellence in the arts and beyond.

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