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Influential Chicago nonprofit arts organization director to speak at ISU College of Design April 9

April 03, 2014



AMES, Iowa — Shannon Stratton, a faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and executive director of threewalls, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization for the presentation of contemporary art and ideas, will speak at Iowa State University Wednesday, April 9.

Stratton will present "Making Space for Culture" at 5:30 p.m. in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design. Part of the 2013-2014 Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series, the event is free and open to the public.

In her lecture, Stratton will address contemporary "artist-run practice" that manifests itself in artist-developed residency programs, community centers and other multipurpose real-estate ventures as these projects change from fringe artist-run sites to practices encouraged by the funding directions foundations pursue through new "placemaking" initiatives.

She wonders about the long-term effects of a new funding emphasis on art practices as entrepreneurialism and "placemaking" as euphemism. She also questions how the increased prioritization of placemaking by private funders potentially instrumentalizes artists to fill political and social gaps left by deteriorating federal, state and civic funding for social programs and community development.

Stratton is a founder and executive/creative director of threewalls, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization for the presentation of contemporary art and ideas. Established in 2003, threewalls has grown from a startup exhibition space to a vital visual arts organization supporting contemporary art through solo exhibitions, residencies, grants, publications, conferences and commissioning programs. Stratton also is co-founder of FIELD: Artist Projects and Spaces, a national alliance of and advocacy group for small-scale visual arts platforms and their producers.

Stratton teaches in the Departments of Art History, Theory & Criticism and Fiber & Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was appointed Critical Studies Fellow at the Cranbrook Academy of Art for fall 2012. She writes, curates exhibitions and other experimental projects, and relishes opportunity for administrative and pedagogical experiments.

He projects include Resonating Bodies, The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, Minn.; Ps & Qs, The Glassel School of Art, Houston, Texas, and The Hyde Park Arts Center, Chicago, Ill. (with Jeff Ward); Things to Be Next To at Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas/threewalls, Chicago (with Kate Hackman); Bellwether at Vox Populi, Philadelphia; Reskilling at Western Front Exhibitions, Vancouver, Canada (with Luanne Martineau) and Gestures of Resistance: Craft, Performance, and the Politics of Slowness (with Judith Leemann), a panel discussion and exhibition at the College Art Association, Dallas, Texas, and the Portland Museum of Craft, Portland, Oregon.

In the summers, Stratton works with Harold Arts in southeast Ohio, coordinating projects including residencies, festivals and site-specific architecture. Her "weird social experiment" (to quote one of her students), "Party As Form," a class in group dynamics and transitional spaces, was hosted by Ox Bow School of Art in Michigan in 2013 and 2014.

In 2010, Stratton was named one of the top five most vital people in the visual arts in Chicago by Newcity. In 2011 she was a fellow of the NAMAC Visual Arts Leadership Institute and a finalist for the Chicago Community Trust Emerging Leader Award. Stratton was one of nine leaders in the arts featured in the Chicago Tribune's 2011 "Chicagoans of the Year." In 2013, Newcity named her one of 50 "visual vanguards." She received the Alberta College of Art Board of Governors’ Alumni Award of Excellence in 2013.

Peter Goché, Architecture, (515) 294-4717,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,