Francesca Pessarelli

Credentials: Managing Director, Ceysson & Bénétière New York; Independent Curator

Major: Art History & French Language
Minor: Classical Studies
Year of Graduation: 2018

Francesca Pessarelli (she/her) is an independent curator, freelance editor, and gallery worker based in New York city. Francesca (b. 1996, Pittsburgh PA) graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2018 with her bachelors degree in Art History and French Language and a minor in Classical Studies. She has since participated in the Solomon R. Guggenheim curatorial internship, was a gallery assistant at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (NY), and now serves as the Managing Director at Ceysson & Bénétière Gallery (NY). All the while, Pessarelli has pursued personal curatorial projects as well as having served as an editor for The OG Magazine and a writer for the Shutterstock blog.

Francesca’s practice is rooted in sensitivity, observation, and a commitment to justice while advocating for young, emerging, and under-represented artists. As of January 2023 Francesca has curated six exhibitions in New York City: The Spaces in Between (2020), Curtain of Blue (2021), The Ecstasy of Saint Britney (2022), Impressions of the Flowers Themselves: co-curated with Chiara Mannarino (2022), Don’t Panic (2022), and FIND / FUSE: co-curated with Maëlle Ebelle (2023).

What motivated you to study Classics in college, and what were your highlights from UW?

My initial motivation to study Classics in college was my love of ancient Greco-Roman art and archaeology. I felt so drawn to the story-telling, mythologies, and philosophies that informed the artists’ work at the time. The humor, passion, and humanity felt through these artifacts really made me feel connected to a larger history and I was so drawn to that feeling. I still feel that there’s so much left to learn about this moment in time.

How did earning the Classics certificate impact what you did after college, and are doing now?

Although I didn’t go on to work directly in a Classics-based industry, I think my love of this time period has informed the way that I appreciate and curate contemporary art. As a curator, I love seeking the historical contexts and drawing parallels between contemporary and ancient societies—I’m always looking for truths that continue through time and connect us to our past. I find that this perspective gives me a unique vision in my work. It also has engrained in me a passion for research and commitment to proper citation.