In an interview with Photography of China, Holly Roussell ’10 discusses her work as an independent curator, museologist and art historian specializing in photography and contemporary art from Asia.
Recalling her introduction to the photographic landscape in China, Roussell describes in the interview her first visit to China in 2008 as a student at HWS: “At the time, I was passionate about Buddhist art history and wanted to visit and document important sacred sites within China and India. I was very surprised when I visited some galleries in Shanghai and Beijing exhibiting Chinese photography and contemporary art. For me, it was a very sudden turning point. Having very little exposure to contemporary art from Asia beforehand and wanted to return to China to continue to explore the landscape. That year (my final in university) I changed direction within Art History studies, and immediately following graduation moved to Beijing to focus full time on Mandarin so I could interact with those artists on my own terms. I wanted to be able to understand first-hand the conversations we were having together.”
Roussell, who studied abroad in Rome as a student, graduated summa cum laude in art history. She co-curated Civilization: The Way We Live Now, with William A. Ewing, and published the book of the exhibit in 2018. She served as coordinator of the worldwide traveling exhibitions program and photography prize, the Prix Elysée, for the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, she co-founded the Asia Photography Project, a non-profit curatorial collective and platform for photography from East Asia. She now lives and works in Suzhou, China.