DePaul Art Museum selects Laura-Caroline De Lara as director

Laura-Caroline de Lara

DePaul University PRESS RELEASE

Jan. 11, 2022

CHICAGO — DePaul University has named Laura-Caroline de Lara as director for DePaul Art Museum, effective Jan. 1. De Lara, a seasoned arts administrator with 20 years of experience, has served as interim director for the museum since July 2020.

De Lara joined DePaul in 2016 as the museum's collection and exhibition manager. She became associate director in 2020 before taking on the role of interim director.​​

“During her time at the university, Laura-Caroline has been instrumental in raising DePaul Art Museum's profile," says Robert D. Karpinski, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic and library affairs. “In addition to managing the museum's exhibitions, collection and budget, she has served as a mentor to a team of student employees, as well as an excellent partner to our faculty. I have every confidence her leadership will continue to drive the museum's ever-growing significance in the Chicago landscape and the art world across the country."

As interim director, de Lara helped launch DePaul Art Museum's Latinx initiative, which aims to broaden the representation of Latinx and Latin American artists in Chicago and across the U.S. Last spring's “LatinXAmerican" was named one of the top five exhibitions in 2021 by NewCity Magazine and featured nearly 40 Latinx artists from Chicago and beyond. It also marked the transition of the museum's exhibitions and public programs to a bilingual, English/Spanish format. This March, it will become one of the museum's first traveling exhibitions, as it heads to the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City, Indiana.

De Lara also has added 26 new artworks by Latinx artists to the museum's permanent collection, including those by Chicago-based artists Caroline Kent and Diana Solís.

“DePaul Art Museum's staff has worked hard over the years to expand the art historical canon through our exhibitions and programs, while focusing on Chicago's art landscape. I want us to continue that important work, while exploring our potential to redefine a museum's role as an active community participant and neighbor to our city's residents," de Lara says.

In the fall, de Lara oversaw the opening of the museum's current exhibitions: “Stockyard Institute: 25 Years of Art and Radical Pedagogy" and “Learned Objects." Both exhibitions, which will be on display through Feb. 13, highlight art-based exchanges among Chicago's communities, artists and educators. “Stockyard Institute" is the first retrospective of work by Jim Duignan, a civically-engaged artist and associate professor in DePaul's College of Education. In March, the exhibition will travel to The Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Since the exhibition's opening, Jim and I have started to develop an intergenerational education program for the museum," de Lara says. “Our goal is to establish a unique educational component to the museum's current offerings, creating a program that redefines what museum education can look like in Chicago."

De Lara has made it a top priority to continue to deepen DePaul Art Museum's commitment to diversity, equity, access and inclusion. Over the past year and half, she expanded the museum's advisory board to include a wider array of creative, academic, community and professional backgrounds, adding Chicago-based artists Edra Soto and Kellie Romany; director of the Invisible Institute, Hilesh Patel; the Museum of Science and Industry's, Manny Juarez, and DePaul faculty members, Bill Johnson-González and Cheryl Bachand.

She is currently collaborating with Johnson-González and Bachand to launch the curation and development of an exhibition of social justice and civil rights photographs from the Tom Wilson and Jill Garling collection of Chicago. Set to open virtually in fall 2023, this is the museum's first student-driven exhibition.

De Lara started her career as a gallery assistant at the age of 16 in her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. She has held administrative positions with the UrbanArt Commission and David Lusk Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee and the Smithsonian American Art Museum's curatorial and registrar's offices in D.C. She served as registrar for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Roger Brown Study Collection and graduate curator for its Sullivan Galleries' MFA exhibitions and community workplace programs.  She also was program coordinator for SAIC's Visiting Artists Program. Immediately prior to DePaul, de Lara was the collection and exhibition manager at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum of Chicago.

De Lara earned dual master's degrees in modern art history, theory and criticism and arts administration and policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has a bachelor's degree in art from Rhodes College, including study at the University of Oxford, Lincoln College.

DePaul Art Museum is located at 935 W. Fullerton Ave. on the university's Lincoln Park Campus. The museum serves as a visual arts resource for DePaul and the greater Chicago community. Admission is always free. For more information, visit online or call 773-325-7506.