With a background in studio craft, Shannon Stratton’s multi-disciplinary practice approaches organizing cultural platforms and events as collaborative, context-responsive acts of care. Based in Queens, NY, Stratton was trained in fiber and painting, with an MFA in studio art. In 2003 she co-founded the artist-run organization, Threewalls (Chicago), where she was artistic and then executive director for 12 years. At Threewalls, she organized exhibitions with over 100 artists, including Cauleen Smith, William Cordova, Claire Pentecost, Dani Leventhal, Betsy Odom, Edie Fake, Zach Cahill and Daniel Barrow. With Threewalls she co-created The Propeller Fund award in collaboration with Gallery 400 for artist’s self-organizing; conceived and published 4 volumes of PHONEBOOK, a national guide to grass-roots and artist-run organizations across the US; and co-organized the first Hand-in-Glove conference which would lead to the founding of Common Field, a national organization in support of artist-focused organizations.

In 2010 she co-curated the exhibition Gestures of Resistance with artist Judith Leemann at the former Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR. The exhibition examined craft as a verb, whose political power lies in its process, by presenting a group of artists who used craft as action in making performance, social practice and pedagogical work. Featuring Theaster Gates, Cat Mazza, Ehren Tool, Mung Lar Lam, Anthea Black, Carole Lung and Sara Black/John Preus.

From 2015-2019 she was Chief Curator at The Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Over her tenure at MAD, she launched the Burke Prize, 1st Site and programmed 35 exhibitions at MAD, including curating: Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care; Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Harry Bertoia’s Environment for Sound; Coille Hooven: Tell it By Heart; Roger Brown: Virtual Still Lifes; Ebony G. Patterson: …buried again to carry on growing; In Time: The Rhythm of the Workshop; Anne Lindberg: the eye’s level and Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound. The exhibition catalog for Roger Brown: Virtual Still Lifes, is available here.

In 2014 she organized Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries for Threewalls, Chicago. The exhibition, the first retrospective of Wilding’s work, toured to Rhodes College, Memphis TN and The University of Clear Lake - Houston as well as being expanded for presentation at The Pasadena Armory for the Arts in California and The Miller ICA at Carnegie Mellon. Stratton edited the monograph, Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries which is published by Intellect Books.

As an independent curator and writer, she is currently working with The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, developing the exhibition Even thread has a speech as part of Leonore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe (fall 2019); is working on the collaborative research project The Working Group for Unmaking at The Poor Farm; and is developing the biannual, networked exhibition Slow Frequency, which takes the climate crisis as the imminent limit to the production of cultural events, and asks: how do you maintain a global art-world engagement, with the smallest carbon footprint?

Stratton is currently the Interim Senior Curator at The John Michael Kohler Arts Center and core faculty in the Warren Wilson MA in Critical & Historical Craft Studies.


MAD Press Release