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Museum of Arts and Design Appoints Shannon Stratton as New Chief Curator

New York, NY (March 26, 2015)

Museum of Arts and Design

Lewis Kruger, Chairman of the Board of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), today announced the appointment of Shannon Stratton to the position of William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator, effective June 2015.  In this role, Stratton will work closely with Nanette L. Laitman Director Glenn Adamson to oversee the Museum’s diverse exhibition program and collections, foster relationships with artists and designers, and develop new strategies to engage contemporary audiences.

Stratton joins MAD after twelve years as founder and executive director of Threewalls, a Chicago-based contemporary arts organization that presents both exhibitions and public programs, and provides grants and resources to artists and other organizers through projects like The Propeller Fund and PHONEBOOK. In addition, she is co-founder of Hand-in-Glove and Common Field, a conference and national network for artists and organizers that amplifies the visibility and viability of arts organizing projects across the United States.

Stratton is also an independent curator and researcher with specific interest in fiber/material studies and artist-run organizations. Her writing on craft has been included in “Collaborations Through Craft,” (Berg Publishing, 2012) and the forthcoming “From Craftivism to Craftwashing,” (Bloomsbury, 2015). Some of her most recent curatorial projects include: Binary Lore: Edie Fake & MSHR, Philip Feldman Gallery + Project Space, Portland, OR (2012-13); Resonating Bodies, The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN (2013); Gestures of Resistance: The Slow Assertions of Craft, The Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR (2010). Throughout her career she has worked with notable artists, such as William Cordova, Cauleen Smith, Daniel Barrow, and Theaster Gates, among many others. Her exhibition Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries, A Retrospective, Threewalls, Chicago, IL (2014) and Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA (2015) was nominated for Best Presentation in an Alternative Venue by the International Association of Art Critics (AiCA-USA).

“Shannon brings a bold curatorial vision to MAD, combining energetic new thinking with leadership skills honed over twelve years as the founder of a non-profit art space,” stated Kruger. “Working directly and creatively with artists, she has created and led an esteemed platform for contemporary art in Chicago, where singular exhibitions and thoughtful public programs intersect and enhance each other in thought-provoking ways. We look forward to MAD’s curatorial future with Shannon at its helm.”  

Added Adamson: “Over the museum’s sixty-year history, our institution has consistently been a platform for adventurous new ideas in art and design, particularly those fueled by skillful making. Given her deep investment in craft, and open-minded, dynamic engagement with contemporary artists and designers of all kinds, Shannon is the perfect person to carry on this legacy.”

“It is with great enthusiasm that I join the team at the Museum of Arts and Design in imagining and implementing a new curatorial vision for this historic and singular institution,” said Stratton. “MAD is a striking example of what a museum can be: from its scale and location to its remarkable combination of exhibitions and educational programs, it has always pushed the envelope when it comes to being approachable while consistently experimental, smart and engaging.”

Stratton received a BFA from Alberta College of Art and Design and an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies as well as an MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she currently serves as an adjunct associate professor in both departments. Over the past few years, Stratton has been named a critical studies fellow at The Cranbrook Academy Art (2012); a fellow of the NAMAC Visual Arts Leadership Institute (2011); a “Chicagoan of the year” in the arts by the Chicago Tribune (2011) and one of the top five most vital people in Chicago’s visual arts scene as well as one of its “Visual Vanguards” by NewCity (2010, 2013).

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields, presenting artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill to their work. Since the Museum's founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum's curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving 21st-century innovation, fostering a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design.

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