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Press Releases Walker Art Center Builds Curatorial Team to Enhance Cross-Disciplinary Programming and Scholarship

Fionn Meade Named Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms and Isla Leaver-Yap Named Bentson Visiting Film Scholar

MINNEAPOLIS, MN February 6, 2014—The Walker Art Center is embracing its mission as a multidisciplinary art center with a commitment to research and scholarship through a number of new appointments that diversify the talents and expertise of its curatorial team. Fionn Meade will join the Walker as Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms, effective May 5, 2014, and Isla Leaver-Yap will become the Bentson Visiting Film Scholar effective March 3, 2014. Together, these positions complement the Walker’s strategic vision as a platform for contemporary art and research that moves between artistic disciplines.

A curator, writer, and faculty member at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and New York’s Columbia University, Fionn Meade will serve as key partner to Walker Executive Director Olga Viso in leading and shaping the artistic vision of the Walker across the art center’s curatorial areas and programs. “Fionn’s diverse curatorial experience working in the arenas of film, performance, and museum practice makes him uniquely qualified to take on this new curatorial role at the Walker,” said Viso.

The title Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms reflects a fresh approach being taken by the institution. The Walker is known as a platform for housing multiple artistic disciplines (visual, performing, design, and film/media arts) and has hosted numerous artists that work across these platforms; however, specifically assigning a curator with the task of overseeing the strategic interplay between program areas will be new for the institution. As a contemporary, forward-looking institution, it is critical for the Walker to support new staffing models that are responsive to the changing needs of the artists served.

“I look forward to taking on this unique position that cuts across artistic disciplines,” said Meade, whose early assignments include the Walker’s presentation of Radical Presence, an exhibition that examines the history of black performance in visual art from the 1960s through the present, and a future exhibition that explores the many visual artists who collaborated with choreographer Merce Cunningham. “It is a great privilege and honor to join the Walker, a vital institution that I have followed and admired for many years. With such a singular and long-standing presence as a cross-disciplinary leader in the field, I am eager to build on the Walker’s commitment to working in-depth with the exemplary artists and innovators of our time.”

In addition to serving in this expansive new curatorial role, Meade will serve as the interim head of the Visual Arts Department while the search continues for a permanent leader. He will also oversee Bentson Visiting Film Scholar, Isla Leaver-Yap who will also work closely with Sheryl Mousley, Senior Curator, Film/Video.

Leaver-Yap will take on an entirely new position at the Walker which assesses the holdings and expands scholarship of the Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Collection with its core of avant-garde films from the period 1943–1985. She will also bring new critical perspectives and research to the institution for a variety of publication platforms and related forums including the Walker’s collections website and online scholarly publication platform. Leaver-Yap will also work closely with Meade and other curators as the Walker engages artists whose work it may choose to purchase, commission, or exhibit. This new position was made possible by generous support from the Bentson Foundation.


Meade has curated a number of recent exhibitions in Europe and the U.S., including the upcoming Coming to Reality, at Futura and SVIT (Prague, Czech Republic), The Skin of the Bear at Artists Space (New York), a newly commissioned performance with Turner Prize winning artist Laure Prouvost at Danspace Project (New York), and Plaisance at Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis) in 2013 bringing visual, film, and performing artists together in dynamic installations and formats. He has also been a critical voice in exploring new models of curatorial practice. In 2013, he co-organized a symposium launching a new mentor-based training program for curators in Zürich, Switzerland co-founded by the LUMA Foundation, Michael Ringier Collection, and Beatrix Ruf (Director and Curator, Kunsthalle Zürich), and has collaborated with Common Practice New York and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College over the current academic year in organizing a series of seminars and conversations focused on the role of small-scale arts institutions in New York City, exploring new models for fostering the small-scale contemporary visual arts sector. A public conference developed in response to these seminars will take place this spring in New York City.

Meade was previously a curator at SculptureCenter in New York and the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle where he organized several group and solo exhibitions with both established and emerging artists, including Lothar Baumgarten, Rachel Harrison, William E. Jones, David Maljkovic, Jenny Perlin, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Emily Roysdon, Xaviera Simmons, Alexander Singh, Lucy Skaer, Rosemarie Trockel, Allyson Vieira, and Grand Openings, among others. Meade earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University and holds a Master of Arts from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. His writing appears in numerous periodicals including Artforum, Art In America, BOMB, Mousse, Modern Painters, Parkett and Spike Art Quarterly, and he was the recipient of an Arts Writer Grant from Creative Capital and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in 2009. Meade has participated in symposia, talks, and events at numerous international venues, and has been a visiting critic and lecturer at Yale University, Cornell University, The Artist’s Institute at Hunter College, Wellesley College, and L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, among other academic settings. He has served on a number of review panels and nominating juries, including for the Public Art Fund NY, PEW Exhibitions Initiative Review, the Cal Arts/Alpert Award, and the Rema Hort Mann Fellowship. His recent writing for exhibition catalogs includes essays on artists Uri Aran, Nina Canell, Elad Lassry, Camille Henrot, Mark Morrisroe, Laure Prouvost, and Dieter Roth, among others. Meade is currently a faculty member in the Visual Arts Program Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University and at the Center for Curatorial Studies program at Bard College.


Isla Leaver-Yap is an independent curator and scholar who works with artists to produce essays, books, exhibitions, and events. She recently produced the second edition of the Artists Moving Image Festival at Tramway Glasgow, and she regularly works with LUX Artists Moving Image Agency, and Electra, both located in London. She is currently working on upcoming book projects with artists Andrea Büttner and James Richards. In New York, Leaver-Yap was a guest curator of the exhibition series Short Stories at SculptureCenter; was a co-founding member of CAGE; and presented projects at Artists Space, Artists Institute, MoMA PS1, and Anthology Film Archives. She previously worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, where she co-organized the ICA’s landmark exhibition season, Nought to Sixty; founded the ongoing Artists Film Club series; and curated Rosalind Nashashibi’s solo show. She recently moved from Brooklyn to Glasgow, where she is currently guest editing the forthcoming issue of Maria Fusco’s art writing journal, The Happy Hypocrite.

Leaver-Yap received an MA in Art History and English Literature, and an MSc in Art History Research, both from University of Edinburgh. In 2013 she was a finalist in the Premio Lorenzo Bonaldi Prize for international curators under 30. She has served as guest faculty at the Stone Summer School (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), and the Banff Visual Arts Program.

Fionn Meade

Photo: Guillermo Riveros

Isla Leaver-Yap