Pilar Tompkins Rivas is the director of Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) at East Los Angeles College, a collecting institution with diverse holdings including Pre-Columbian, Native American, and modern and contemporary art. At VPAM she has spearheaded partnerships between the museum and the Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens. Prior to her appointment as director, she served as the coordinator of curatorial initiatives at LACMA, where she helped launch and co-directed two Mellon-funded programs for the museum: the UCLA-LACMA Art History Practicum Initiative and The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. She has practiced as an independent curator since 2002 and was the director of residency programs at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.
Specializing in U.S. Latino and Latin American contemporary art, she has organized dozens of exhibitions throughout the United States, Colombia, Egypt, France, and Mexico. Among the exhibitions that she has curated or co-curated are Home – So Different, So Appealing (LACMA; the Museum of Fine Arts Houston), A Universal History of Infamy (LACMA), Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology (VPAM),Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943-2016 (VPAM), A Decolonial Atlas: Strategies in Contemporary Art of the Americas (VPAM; Tufts University Art Gallery; Union College; Oficina de Proyectos Culturales, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico; OFF Biennial Cairo, Egypt), Guadalupe Rosales: Echoes of a Collective Memory (VPAM), Patrick Martinez: America is For Dreamers (VPAM), ASCO and Friends: Exiled Portraits (Triangle France, Marseille), L.A. Xicano (LACMA; the UCLA Fowler Museum; the Autry National Center), and Vexing: Female Voices from East L.A. Punk (Claremont Museum of Art).