Valerie J. Mercer is the first curator of African American art and Head of the General Motors Center for African American Art at The Detroit Institute of Arts. Prior to her move to Detroit, Mercer was an adjunct professor for two years at The City College of New York and visiting lecturer at The Rhode Island School of Design, teaching courses on modern and contemporary art.
Mercer developed her curatorial experience working at The Studio Museum in Harlem for seven years, leaving there in 1999 as senior curator. Among the numerous exhibitions she curated at The Studio Museum were the nationally toured Explorations in the City of Light: African-American Artists in Paris, 1945-1965 and The Studio Museum in Harlem: 25 Years of African-American Art; and a solo exhibition on the paintings and works on paper of renowned abstract artist William T. Williams. She wrote essays for the catalogs that accompanied these exhibitions and has written articles for The New York Times.