Profile: Aria Dean (1993-)

Aria Dean is an American critic, artist, and curator. Dean is the assistant curator of net art and digital culture at Rhizome. Dean was born in 1993. Dean graduated from Oberlin College in 2015.


After graduating from Oberlin College, Dean was appointed social media coordinator for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

In September 2016, ARTnews announced that Dean had been appointed assistant curator of net art and digital culture for Rhizome. Dean works to help Rhizome’s efforts to preserve, present, and re-perform works of net art from the 1980s to the present day (called Net Art Anthology), organize events, and publish articles online.

Dean’s first solo exhibition, Baby Is A Cool Machine, opened at American Medium in 2017. The exhibition, according to the gallery’s website, “hones in on her materially-driven examination of the situation of blackness in the United States.” The show was critically praised by James Hannaham at 4Columns and selected by Kat Herriman as a Critic’s Picks for Artforum. In 2018, Aria Dean was named one of Cultured Magazine’s 30 artists under 35.

In late 2017, Dean curated New Black Portraitures as part of Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology. 

In early 2018, Dean wrote and directed a play for the Swiss Institute in New York.

Her second solo exhibition, lonesome crowded west, features sculptural objects and installation that “shuttle between experiences as personally lived and the sweeping generalizations of the media and historical modernism” according to critic Matt Stromberg of HyperAllergic. In an interview with Travis Diehl, Dean reveals that the clay in her painting-like sculpture is from Mississippi that the series of works speaks to her “proximity and distance in relation to that place.” Other works featured crowd shots from hip-hop videos, a two-channel installation that explore the loneliness of black existence in predominantly-western contexts.

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