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With a generous grant from the Windgate Foundation, the ASU Art Museum has established the Windgate Curator of Contemporary Craft and Design Fellowship and announced Sarah Kelly as the first fellow.
Kelly, who has a strong foundation in both material knowledge and critical theory-based research and writing on contemporary craft, said the ASU Art Museum and its Ceramics Research Center served as a “reliable and inspiring resource" for her own research and curatorial work.
“Early one morning, I scanned the Arizona State University Art Museum’s craft holdings visible online. And I thought for a moment, ‘How great would it be to work with such a renowned collection in ceramics?’”
Kelly has a Master of Arts in critical craft studies from Warren Wilson College and previously worked as a curatorial fellow for Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina. She co-directs Southbound Craft Fair and ran a small craft-focused gallery. She began her career as a maker with an undergraduate degree in painting, a decade of making ceramics, two years working with a metal sculptor and workshops in paper-making and textiles.
This new curatorial fellowship combines mentorship opportunities and work experience with the goal of cultivating and advancing the careers of a new generation of curators focused on contemporary craft and design. During this 18-month fellowship, the curator will explore best practices in collection stewardship, exhibition planning and research, public programs, inclusion and equity. Kelly will work closely with the ASU Art Museum staff and curatorial team, including mentorships with curator emeritus Heather Sealy Lineberry, staff curators and museum professionals beyond ASU. The fellowship includes funding for professional development and an ASU Art Museum exhibition focused primarily on the collection.
The fellowship is generously supported by the Windgate Foundation, which has a sustained history of supporting contemporary craft artists and seeding innovative projects that will ensure future growth of the field. For more than 20 years, the ASU Art Museum has partnered with the Windgate Foundation, receiving generous support for exhibitions, programs, residencies, internships, publications and collections serving students, artists and audiences both local and national.
“As the ASU Art Museum looks toward building a more relevant and inclusive museum, we are excited to be able to foster the voices of a next generation of curators and museum professionals,” said Miki Garcia, director of the ASU Art Museum. “Our Contemporary Craft and Design Fellow will greatly add fresh perspectives and expertise to our collections, exhibitions and educational programs that will usher in renewed interest in our museum from a broader array of audiences.”
The ASU Art Museum continues to affirm the role of contemporary art and craft as central to our understanding of the world and the ability to envision the future. The museum has innovated throughout its history by presenting craft within the context of contemporary art, commissioning artists through residencies, and utilizing open storage to allow access to collections. Today, the museum is dedicated more than ever to becoming a new model for a more responsive museum that deepens the way all people experience and value contemporary art and craft.