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R A C H E L  K A B U K A L A

- Resume -


PhD Candidate | Indiana University | Bloomington, IN | Expected 2024

Art History major, African Studies minor

Graduate Certificate | University of Pennsylvania | Philadelphia, PA | 2017

Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy in partnership with National Arts Strategies (NAS)

Bachelor of Arts | Cum Laude | St. Olaf College | Northfield, MN | 2005

Major: Studio Art

Concentrations: Africa & the Americas; American Racial & Multicultural Studies

Education Licensure Program: Visual Arts (K-12)


Congo Gravitational Waves // A Metadigital & Tantalean Tale, 2022

Guest Curator | CVAD Galleries at the University of North Texas | Denton, TX | 2021 - 2022

Radical Revisionists: Contemporary African Artists Confronting Past and Present, 2020

Guest Curator | Moody Center for the Arts | Rice University | Houston, TX | 2018-2020

Through the Eyes of Picasso, 2017-2018

Curatorial Assistant | The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art | Kansas City, MO | 2017-2018

Museum Experience

CCL Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice | Center for Curatorial Leadership | NYC | 2023

  • One of 16 cohort members selected from a pool of global PhD candidate applicants

  • Participate in a two-week intensive training program that combines exhibition and collection tours, conversations with curators and cultural leaders, and group exercises at New York City institutions

  • Observe, analyze, and engage in the critical responsibilities of museums through a range of institutional contexts

  • Engage with directors, curators, conservators, registrars, educator, and trustees at various New York City museum institutions

  • Explore ideas behind acquisition, care, interpretation, and display as they relate to permanent collections and temporary exhibitions

  • Complete coursework led by professors from Columbia Business School, which covers fundamental business principles in order to better understand models and managerial leadership

  • Participate in a practicum exercise to critically asses the mission and program of a New York City institution and to apply skills and perspectives gained from the seminar

  • Meet with senior curatorial advisor for individualized on-on-one mentorship

Provenance Researcher | Eskenazi Museum of Art | Bloomington, IN | 2022-present

  • Support ongoing provenance research and documentation of the objects in the African art collection, which includes reviewing and augmenting existing object records, documentation of ownership history, exhibition history, and publication references for objects in the collection

  • Implement policies and procedures that are in keeping with best practices for provenance research in museum institutions, and create provenance files (both analog and digital) containing accumulated research notes for each object’s ownership history

Project Assistant | Eskenazi Museum of Art | Bloomington, IN | 2021-2022

  • Assisted Registrar in developing an internal database for a large collection of African ceramics and textiles

  • Catalogued African ceramics that will appear in a printed collection catalogue through reviewing and compiling information in the museum’s records and conducting research on comparable works for valuation and contextual information; researched comparable works for valuation and contextual information

  • Examined works to offer more detailed information about techniques employed in making them; executed condition reports for African ceramics included in the project

Curatorial Assistant, African Art | The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art | Kansas City, MO | 2018-19

  • Oversaw all aspects of departmental operations as the sole African Department employee, including art acquisition through major auction houses and galleries, donor cultivation and stewardship, community relations and outreach, scholarly research and departmental programming

  • Monitored and maintained departmental budget a served on the grant writing team that successfully secured a $750,000 Mellon Foundation Grant

  • Curated two permanent collection rotations and one loaned rotation annually

  • Co-organized with Dr. Kristina Van Dyke a major international conference, A State of the Field Convening: The Future of African Art, held at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art March 22-24, 2018

  • Served as curatorial assistant for 2017-2018 featured exhibition Through the Eyes of Picasso

Department Assistant, African Art | The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art | Kansas City, MO | 2014-18

  • Acted as department liaison within the museum, with other institutions and the public

  • Oversaw maintenance of all departmental files and records

  • Conducted research for exhibition proposals and specific objects in the collection

  • Curated six large-scale rotations in the African galleries

  • Served as project coordinator for the reinstallation of the African galleries

Fellowships & Awards

  • Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, Indiana University, 2020-2021

  • Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, Indiana University, Summer 2020

  • Tanner-Opperman Chair in Honor of Roy Sieber Fellowship, Indiana University, 2019-2023

  • Kloeck-Jenson Endowment for Peace and Justice Scholarship, awarded for a self-directed, five-week program in Africa, including time in Kenya, Zambia, and Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2004

Conferences & Symposia

European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), African Futures, Presenter, 2023

"Congo Gravitational Waves: A Metadigital and Tantalean Tale," for the panel “African Artistic Imaginaries, from the Jet Age to the Space Race,” Co-chaired by Kate Cowcher and Abel Tilahun, Cologne, Germany, May 31-June 3, 2023

The Sainsbury Research Unit Graduate Conference, Presenter, 2023

"Creating the Kuba Canon: The Collecting Practices and Legacies of William Henry Sheppard and Joseph Cornet," for conference titled, "Missionary Collecting in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Catholic and Protestant Missions," University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, May 25-26, 2023

The Clark Art Institute Graduate Symposium, Presenter, 2023

"Archive as Site of Resistance: Rejecting the Colonial Gaze Through African Portraiture, Past and Present," for conference titled, "Refraction and Resistance: Writing African Art," Williamstown, MA, April 14, 2023

Indiana University Graduate Students in African Studies 10th Annual Symposium, Presenter, 2023

"Activating the Spectator through Site-Specific Performance and Installation: Serge Attukwei Clottey and a New Typology of Socially Engaged Artistic Practice," for conference titled, "African Urbanities: Mobility, Creativity, and Challenges," Bloomington, IN, March 24-25, 2023

Indiana University Art History Association Graduate Student Symposium, Envisioning Resilience: Narratives and Counter Narratives, Presenter, 2022

"Perennial Resilience: Botanical Refusal in the Work of Joiri Minaya"

Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) Triennial Conference, Organizer, 2021

College Art Association (CAA) Annual Conference, Presenter, 2020

“Remembering the Future to Imagine the Past: Artists Envisioning a New Normal,” for the panel "How Not to Return to Normal," Co-chaired by Francesca Cavallo and Emily Candela

A State of the Field Convening: The Future of African Art, Organizer, 2018

International conference of Africanists held at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO


Kabukala, Rachel. “Remembering the Future to Imagine the Past: Artists Imagining a New State of Being.” emerge journal, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, (2020-2021).

Related Proficiencies & Languages

  • French: fluent in speaking, proficient in reading and writing

  • Lingala: Intermediate

  • TMS (The Museum System) collections database, Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom

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