About the Wellcome Trust Mental Health Curatorial Research Fellow

In October 2019, Dr. Rebecca Jacobs joined The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Center for the Humanities as the Wellcome Trust Mental Health Curatorial Research Fellow. In this new role at the Center, she is helping to develop the New York City component of Wellcome’s new international cultural initiative on mental health. Dr. Jacobs was previously the 2017–2019 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. During her time there, she co-curated the exhibitions Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis and Urban Indian: Native New York Now.

For the New York City component of Wellcome’s next global brief, Dr. Jacobs will work with selected local cultural, research, and policy partners to create public programs that examine the cultural meanings of mental health and well-being for millions of New Yorkers across the five boroughs. These collaborative, citywide programs are expected to be developed and launched during a three-to-five-year period beginning in 2020. Activities could include exhibitions, public events, workshops, film, radio programs, and other modes of public engagement and participation.

This transdisciplinary project seeks to bring together a variety of local institutions to collaborate and reflect upon the mental health challenges that so many New Yorkers face, thereby advancing public conversations that could potentially lead to cultural shifts and policy reform.

As part of her new role, in fall 2019 she worked with Keith Wilson, Director of the Center for the Humanities, to develop a salon, entitled Worlds within Worlds, that offered an opportunity to ponder the worlds we create through the mind’s eye. Hosted by the Graduate Center, CUNY’s Center for the Humanities, the event took place in November 2019 at Pioneer Works Science Studios.

The salon was devoted to an informal discussion of how perception, space, and time work in relation to one another. It began with a special visit to artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s solo show You’re at home, an immersive exhibition that incorporated a white-walled room devoted solely to the art of his late mother, Patricia Satterwhite, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Guests toured the exhibition with its curator Gabriel Florenz, and then heard from essayist Garnette Cadogan, VR artist Rachel Rossin, and cognitive neuroscientist Tony Ro, for an informal conversation about the alternative mental spaces we create through visual art, writing, and other creative practices.