BY PATRICIA MORA PORTRAIT BY RALPH LAUER
As the Amon Carter’s first Deputy Director of Art and Research,
Margi Conrads strives for a cultural deluge, starting with We the People.
argi Conrads was certain she was going to be
a large-animal veterinarian—until she took a
compelling course in the history of American
architecture. That single decision signaled a sea change.
Put simply, she opted for aesthetics over chemistry.
“It had nothing to do with academics,” she confesses.
Rather, she had become thoroughly enthralled with art
and wanted to pursue what became the single defining
element in her professional life.
Conrads is originally from the Washington, D.C.,
area and studied at Emory University, where she fell
head over heels for Pre-Raphaelite art. She subsequently studied in London—a move she dubs “a game
changer”—before finishing her undergraduate degree
at Connecticut College. She then received her master
of arts at Washington University in St. Louis, where she
concentrated on twentieth-century art with a special
emphasis on the work of sculptor Barbara Hepworth.
Conrads capped off her educational credentials
with a doctorate from the City University of New York
before working in museums in New York, Delaware,
and at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. However, she’s currently embarking upon what is perhaps
the most exciting segment of her already distinguished
career. Conrads has been appointed Deputy Director
of Art and Research at the Amon Carter Museum.
Consequently, exciting changes are afoot.
She completely believes in the power of art to
“transform lives” and is enthusiastic about the role of
art in the future of the city and education. “We all connect with art in different ways and on different levels—
and, here, we’re all working hard to make sure people
leave the museum seeing and thinking differently than
when they came in,” she says.
Conrads is especially enthusiastic about an upcoming exhibition, We the People: Picturing American Identity. It’s
planned to be an excavation of sorts—a discovery of
what it means to be an American. In fact, the Amon
Carter has already engaged in a number of question-
and-answer sessions with a broad spectrum of people.
Ironically, some of the most compelling and heartfelt
responses came from children who are enthusiastic
about the future.
Of the interactive methods currently deployed by
many museums, Conrads says, “I like much of what’s
going on. We’re trying to engage people and foster conversation and there are many ways to do that for a variety of individuals.” After a few examples, I decided I’m
not only intrigued—I’m looking forward to seeing how
new approaches will be used in the much-anticipated We
the People show.
Conrads adds, “This is the first time several curators
have worked on a single show and that’s also a different
approach.” The experience of shared turf regarding a
single compelling subject matter will likely initiate some
interesting juxtapositions within the collection held by
the Amon Carter and other pieces brought in for the
However, what is even more important is Conrads’s perpetual mantra: “‘Look’ is an active verb.” She
refers, of course, to the remarkable dynamic that flares
between the seer and the seen. Conrads is an elegant
spokeswoman for an already widely respected museum
and her new role promises even bigger and better shows
for the DFW area.
We the People goes on view June 15 and will remain
through September 8. It incorporates pieces from the
museum’s collection as well as outstanding loans from
both public and private collections of distinction. Conrads’s enthusiasm regarding the project is infectious and,
although she’s new at the Amon Carter, she’s already
ramping up anticipation for its reliably august projects.
Visiting one of the region’s finest artistic jewels should
now be an even rarer treat. P
Image above: Margi Conrads in front of Stuart Davis’s Blips and Ifs, part of the Amon Carter’s permanent
collection of paintings.