MAD about a new appointment

The Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan has appointed Elissa Auther as its deputy director of curatorial affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon chief curator.

WAG’s sneak peek of “Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann” at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) included a notable element.

We were toured through the well-rounded and exuberant exhibition by Elissa Auther, its curator who then carried the official title of the Windgate Research and Collections curator.

Auther not only offered an insightful take on the expansive show –featured in our current “Fascinating Fashions” issue – but shared personal reflections on the lifestyle brand founded by the Stamford-born Neumann (who also had longtime personal and professional ties to Westchester County). It made for a most memorable first visit of “Vera Paints a Scarf,” which we hope to visit again as it continues through Jan. 26.

With that experience in mind, WAG is pleased to share news about Auther as announced by MAD:  She has been appointed to the position of deputy director of curatorial affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon chief curator, effective immediately.

Here are more details, as announced by MAD:

In this role, Auther will collaborate with Nanette L. Laitman Director Chris Scoates to create diverse exhibition programs and collections, foster relationships with artists and designers, and develop forward-looking strategies for engaging a broad audience.

“A highly valued colleague, Elissa is a gifted curator and scholar who is passionate about the vital and evolving importance of craft in contemporary art,” said Scoates. “In her new leadership position at MAD, she will help define and reshape the important questions driving the dialogue and direction of art and design in the 21stcentury.”

In December 2014, Auther joined MAD as its inaugural Windgate Research and Collections Curator, a position funded by the Windgate Charitable Foundation. In this role, Auther led an educational and curatorial partnership between the Museum of Arts and Design and Bard Graduate Center that has increased the visibility of craft and design in art history and the contemporary art world.

“I am thrilled to be named Chief Curator at this pivotal moment for the Museum,” Auther said. “At a time when makers of all kinds are being swiftly assimilated into the larger art historical narrative, MAD is uniquely positioned to guide that conversation forward. I am very excited to collaborate with my colleagues to break down the divisions between art, craft, and design, while advancing scholarship of the rich history from which this museum was formed.”

Auther joined MAD from the University of Colorado, where she served as an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the Art History and Museum Studies Program from 2003 to 2014. Concurrently, Auther held an Adjunct Curator position at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and co-directed Feminism & Co.: Art, Sex, Politics, a series of public programs that created access to critical debates surrounding feminist issues through the lens of creative practice, from performance to hands-on making.

Auther holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of Maryland, and a BA in the History of Art from San Francisco State University.

WAG wishes Auther well in this expanded role at MAD.

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– Mary Shustack

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