Kilolo Luckett Inspires Creativity and Compassion

The Ellis School was thrilled to host Kilolo Luckett for the first Middle and Upper School assembly of the 2019–2020 school year. An art historian and cultural producer, Kilolo spoke about her background, her zig-zagging career path, and her powerful work as a historian and curator at museums and institutions across the country with students.
From curating shows at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center to serving as a member of the City of Pittsburgh’s Art Commission, Kilolo’s shared how her work is driven by her mission of elevating voices of underrepresented visual artists. Whether it’s women or artists of color, Kilolo emphasized the fact that most art is created by and for a specific group identity, and how crucial it is that other perspectives are included moving forward.

Following her talk, students were invited to participate in a Q&A session. Ellis girls asked Kilolo about her favorite exhibitions and pieces she’s worked on, the relationships she’s built in the art world, and what inspired her to pursue an art history career. When speaking about the connections she’s made and friendships she’s formed throughout her career, Kilolo offered thoughtful advice to students, she told them, “the relationships you forge today are important because you never know where they will lead you in the future.”

Grade 10 students in Culture and Context—a course that empowers students to explore art and design as a means of building their inquiry, collaboration, and response skills—then met with Kilolo ahead of their field trip downtown to view and question public art. In her role as an art commissioner for the City of Pittsburgh, Kilolo spoke to how it’s her job to look beyond what’s represented in public art pieces and to consider the perspectives and stories that are not reflected.

Kilolo’s commitment to her craft, her community, and her work serves an inspiration to Ellis girls as they start the school year eager to discover new interests, explore complex questions, and work together for the greater good. In fact, Kilolo embodies many of the same qualities of Ellis girls and graduates—women who are authentic, intellectually vibrant, and dedicated to forging connections across differences to create positive change in their communities—which is a reason why she was chosen to kick off the assembly season for the year.

“We want to focus our assembly time together hearing from people who are making a big difference in the worlds in which they operate, who have strong and varied voices, and who are so very interesting and committed,” shared Macon Finley, Head of School. "Kilolo Luckett was a great place to start.”