Rachel Thomas is the Chair of long term planning and Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin. Thomas is a Leonardo fellow at Trinity College Dublin, contributor to the MA/MFA Art in the Contemporary World programme at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and the European judge for the Rise Art Prize for young artists. Thomas has curated various exhibitions including solo surveys of Nan Goldin, Etel Adnan, Hélio Oiticica, Haroon Mirza, Tino Sehgal, the American Fluxus and feminist artist Eleanor Antin, Thomas Ruff, Karen Kilimnik, Margherita Manzelli, Willie Doherty, Sophie Calle and Mark Manders. She initiated and organized with Philippe Parreno the seminal group show of post relational aesthetics ‘.all hawaii eNtrées / luNar reGGae’ (2007), artists included Thomas Demand, Liam Gillick, Carsten Höller, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Garrett Phelan. Thomas has introduced a new project strand to IMMA bringing to Ireland solo and group projects and new commissions by young international artists such as Gerard Byrne, Franz Ackermann, Pierre Huyghe and Thomas Demand and the ground-breaking virtual retrospective with artist Jorge Pardo. Critically acclaimed international group shows such as ‘Primal Architecture’ (2015), which included Mike Kelley, Linder, Conrad Shawcross, Bedwyr Williams and ‘What We Call Love, from Surrealism to Now’ (2016), co-curated with the Director of Biennale di Venezia 2017, Christine Macel and included artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marina Abramović, Constantin Brancusi, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Wolfgang Tillmans, Alberto Giacometti, Meret Oppenheim, Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono. Thomas has also re-examined the role of spirituality in ‘As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics’ (2017), and included artists such as Hilma Af Klint, Bruce Nauman and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Most recently Thomas has curated the critically acclaimed solo exhibition of ‘Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Sunset, Sunrise’ (2018) which will travel to the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2019.
Thomas was awarded a Millennium Fellowship to produce papers on global frameworks of contemporary art practice at Tate Britain, London. In 2006, she curated the Irish Pavilion, New Territories, ARCO '06, Madrid. Curated Biennales include the Welsh Pavilion with Cerith Wyn Evans in 2000 at the Biennale di Venezia and the Lyon Biennale, with Gerard Byrne in 2008. She has lectured on the role of the curator at various symposia such as 'Curating Now' and 'The Role of Painting in the 21st Century'. Thomas initiated and curated the Irish Times critically acclaimed offsite project video with Dorothy Cross ‘Stalactite’ (2011) in Cork. As a writer, she has published widely in journals and exhibition catalogues including an interview with Michael-Craig Martin and texts on artists such as Dorothy Cross, Gerard Byrne, Eleanor Antin, Sophie Calle, Pierre Huyghe, Alex Katz, and Thomas Scheibitz. She is actively pursuing research on the politics of space with philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben. She has lectured on the role of the curator at various symposia and on contemporary Irish art at the Guggenheim with Nancy Spector. As a writer, she has published widely in journals and exhibition catalogues, and has also worked as an online curator for Curate NYC.