What is Neon Queen Collective?
The Neon Queen Collective is a trio of Austin-based curators—Jessi DiTillio, Kaila Schedeen, and Phillip Townsend—who collaborate to investigate topics such as race, ethnicity, representation, class, sexuality, and gender in socially engaged art produced by feminist artists of color.
By engaging with history, education, archives, memory, and public spaces, our curatorial projects aim to engage our contemporary realities in the political structures of the past. We gravitate towards art that is emotionally affective--art that may make its viewers laugh, cry, or feel feelings without easy explanations.
Our curatorial focus includes visual art exhibitions, workshops, lectures, performances, and discussions.
Who is Neon Queen Collective?
Jessi DiTillio is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on 20th century American Art with a focus on African American artists, contemporary art engaging the politics of race and gender, and curatorial practice. She is currently the Curatorial Fellow at the Visual Art Center. Previously she served as the inaugural Gallery Fellow at the Warfield Center Galleries, and was the 2015 Mercer Curatorial Fellow at The Contemporary Austin. Before beginning her doctoral program, she served as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, where she curated the traveling exhibition “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power.” She also served as Interim Director of the Association for Academic Museums and Galleries.
Phillip Townsend is a second year doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin who focuses on Modern and Contemporary art of the Black Atlantic and specializes in theories of displacement and the politics of space and identity. He recently earned his MA in Art History at UT-Austin and received his BA in Art History from the University of South Florida. Before beginning his doctoral program, Phillip curated a photographic exhibition “Light and Life: St. Louis Cemetery No.1 Reframed through the Lens of John Pinderhughes” at the Warfield Center Gallery, IdeaLab. Phillip served as the Drs. Susan G. and Edmund W. Gordon Research Fellow in African American Art at the Blanton Museum and Curatorial Assistant at the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies. Phillip has been published in African Arts and E3W Review of Books.
Kaila Schedeen is a second year doctoral student in art history at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also received her undergraduate degree in 2014. She specializes in contemporary American art, with a particular focus on Native American and African American artists within the United States and the Caribbean whose works examine the intersections of identity. While working on her Masters at the University of Delaware, Kaila held positions in Special Collections and at Mechanical Hall Gallery on campus, as well as Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. In these institutions she assisted on the exhibitions Lasting Impressions: The Artists of Currier & Ives and ReSoundings: Garth Erasmus and Siemon Allen. Kaila is currently the Collections Management Assistant at the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies at UT Austin.