Center for Craft 25th anniversary logo in red
Center for Craft 25th anniversary logo in red

Research Initiative

Windgate Research Curator

This joint position initiates a significant partnership between the Center for Craft, Museum of Arts and Design, and Bard Graduate Center and serves to expand the field of Craft Research.

Meet the curator

The Windgate Research Curator establishes an important leadership role for exploration and scholarship in the burgeoning field of craft studies.

In 2014 Bard Graduate Center, the Center for Craft, and the Museum of Arts and Design partnered to create the first dedicated position for craft research and scholarship in the United States. The Windgate Research Curator is the culmination of this partnership, linking America’s flagship museum devoted to the skilled maker, the leading specialist academy for the study of the history of design and material culture, and the foremost national nonprofit granting organization devoted to advancing the study of craft history, theory, and practice in the United States.

The Windgate Research Curator serves as part of the Museum of Art and Design’s Curatorial Department and acts as the lead academic and support for the museum’s exhibitions, also contributing their own research and overseeing external scholarly contributions. At Bard Graduate Center, the Windgate Research Curator helps expand teaching on the history of craft and making and provides the opportunity for students to have supervised professional experience via an ongoing museum practicum. The Windgate Research Curator also serves to on the Program Advisory Committee for the Center for Craft and contributes to its activities.

Drawing on the successful foundation laid by the Windgate Research Curator and the partnering organization’s shared goal to develop scholarship in the fields of decorative arts, design history, material culture, and craft studies, these three organizations partnered on the interdisciplinary symposium, Shared Ground: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Craft Studies, held in New York City September 20-22, 2018.

You can learn more about this symposium here.

Meet the Curator

Elissa Auther

Elissa Auther serves as the inaugural Windgate Research Curator. She has published widely on a diverse set of topics, ranging from the history of artists working in fiber in the 1960s and 70s, the decorative in contemporary art and craft, the visual and material culture of the American counterculture, and feminist art.

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Her monograph, String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), focuses on the broad utilization of fiber in art of the 1960s and 1970s and the changing hierarchical relationship between art and craft expressed by the medium’s new visibility. Auther is also an accomplished curator. Recently, she co-curated Marilyn Minter’s traveling retrospective exhibition Pretty/Dirty, and for the Museum of Arts and Design she organized Surafce/Depth: The Decorative After Miriam Schapiro. Her next exhibition for MAD focuses on the artist-turned-textile designer Vera Neumann. At the Bard Graduate Center Auther teaches courses on the intersection of craft and contemporary art. From 2007 to 2017 she co-directed the public program Feminism & Co: Art, Sex, Politics, which focused on issues of women, gender, and feminism through the lens of creative practice.

Auther received her PhD in the History of Art from the University of Maryland.

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Museum of Arts and Design logo

The Museum of Arts and Design, based in Manhattan, New York City, collects, displays, and interprets objects that document contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art, and design.


Bard Graduate Center logo

The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture is a graduate research institute and gallery located in New York City. It is affiliated with Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.