Lowery Stokes Sims is specialist in modern and contemporary art. She received her B.A. in art history from Queens College of the City University of New York; her M.A. in art history from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in art history from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Her dissertation, Wifredo Lam and the International Avant-Garde, 1923–1992, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2002. Sims served on the education and curatorial staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972-1999 and then as executive director, president and adjunct curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem from 2000-2007.
Known primarily for her curatorial work, Sims has had a long-time commitment to working with and writing about modern contemporary art and artists. Since the 1970s she has fostered diversification and opportunity for artists having been a witness to and participant in the black arts movement, the feminist art movement and the politics of postmodernism and beyond. Among the artists she has worked over the last four decades with are: Elizabeth Catlett, Robert Colescott, Fred Brown, Benny Andrews, Judith Godwin, Joyce Scott, Young Soon Min, Hope Sandrow, Sonya Clark, Arnold Mesches, Kaylynn Two Trees, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Chakaia Booker, Whitfield Lovell, Willie Cole, Fred Wilson, Wendy Maruyama, Margo Machida, Joe Lewis, Saya Woolfolk, Sebastian Errazuriz, Afruz Amighi, Jaune Quick to See Smith, Jin Soo Kim, Julio Galan, Ida Applebroog, Mel Edwards, Beverly Buchanan, Edgar Heap of Birds, Tom Miller, Betye Saar and Alison Saar, Stephen Burks and Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth. She has also worked on exhibitions of Stuart Davis, John Marin, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ellsworth Kelly, Fritz Shoulder and Viola Frey and written about Lois Mailou Jones, Bill Trayor and William Edmondson.
When she joined the staff of the Museum of Arts and Design in 2007, Sims added design and craft to her portfolio and has co-curated Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary (2008) and Dead or Alive: Artists Respond to Nature (2010). She also conceived and co-curated The Global Africa Project (2010) and Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design (2012) and is currently working on New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America which will open At MAD in fall, 2014
Sims has lectured widely nationally and internationally and served as a visiting critic and lecturer at Alfred University, theUniversity of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Hawaii among others. In 1991, she received the Frank Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association for distinction in art criticism. From 2005-10 she served as A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University; as Visiting Professor at Queens College and Hunter College in New York City (2005, 2006); as a fellow at the Clark Art Institute and Visiting Scholar at the University of Minnesota in 2007. Sims was also a member of the selection jury for the World Trade Center memorial in 2003-2004.