MINNEAPOLIS, September 24 2015—The Walker Art Center is pleased to announce new staff appointments in visual arts, design, and education and public programs that further the institution’s mission as a multidisciplinary art center with a commitment to research, education and access, and advancing new scholarship. Pavel Pyś will join the Walker as Curator of Visual Arts, Daniel Atkinson will become Associate Curator of Education and Interpretation Programs, Maya Weisinger will assume the role of Access and Audiences Coordinator, and Emmet Byrne will assume an expanded role as Associate Curator of Design alongside his continued leadership as Design Director at the Walker.
“It is a pleasure to welcome such talented colleagues into new and expanded roles at the Walker. Together they bring a dynamic range of global perspectives and in-depth institutional experience into dialog with new innovative approaches to cross-disciplinary programming. From our galleries and multi-platform publishing efforts to the stage and cinema, these new creative partners will collaborate with colleagues across program areas and be key players in developing projects to animate the newly integrated outdoor campus that will open in 2017,” said Fionn Meade, Artistic Director.
“It is very exciting to see our new senior leaders continue to build their teams across curatorial departments at the Walker, drawing both on existing institutional talent and recruiting new voices to the staff,” added Olga Viso, Executive Director. “Artistic Director Fionn Meade and the Walker’s new Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs Nisa Mackie, who joined the Walker staff last spring from the Sydney Biennial in Australia, are already having a huge impact. And we look forward to announcing several more curatorial hires this fall.”
Pavel Pyś (pronounced Pish) will join the Walker after four years as Exhibitions & Displays Curator at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, England. Hailing originally from Warsaw, the Australian-Polish curator and writer has contributed to a range of solo and group exhibitions in the United Kingdom and beyond, including exhibitions with artists David Diao, Robert Filliou, Christine Kozlov, Katrina Palmer, Vladimir Stenberg and Sturtevant, as well as the group exhibitions Carol Bove / Carlo Scarpa (2015); The Event Sculpture (2014); Indifferent Matter: From Object to Sculpture (2013) and 1913: The Shape of Time (2012) at the Henry Moore Institute; We Will Live, We Will See (2011) at the Zabludowicz Collection (as part of the inaugural Zabludowicz Collection Curatorial Open); and To See an Object, To See the Light (2011), at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy. He earned his MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths College in London, his MSc in Culture & Society from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and his Postgraduate Certificate in Arts Administration from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including ArtReview, Mousse, Frieze, and Art Monthly Australia and he has published essays on artists including Carol Bove, Michael Dean and Fredrik Værslev. Pyś has also served on judging panels for the Aesthetica Art Prize and the Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize at the University of Manchester.
Assuming the role of Curator of Visual Arts, Pyś will generate exhibitions and build timely and significant additions to the Walker’s renowned permanent collection, contribute to Walker publications from catalogues to online platforms, lead grant-driven initiatives, and further the Walker’s role as catalyst for the production of new art across artistic platforms. His tenure at the Walker will begin at a date yet to be determined pending the completion of his visa status.
Emmet Byrne has served as Design Director since 2010, and will continue to provide creative leadership and strategic direction for the institution’s brand identity in all areas of visual communication, as well as oversee its publishing program and design studio. In his expanded role of Associate Curator of Design, Byrne will continue the legacy of industry-leading design, programming, and curatorial projects that traces back to the Walker’s earliest days as a public art center.
Byrne is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s College of Design, and previously served as adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Over the past several years he has organized the annual Insights Design Lecture Series at the Walker, bringing leading designers from around the globe to the Twin Cities. He was also part of the core team that developed the Walker’s award-winning website in 2011 that emphasized the transition of print publishing and book design to online platforms. In 2015, Byrne collaborated with the Walker Shop on the Intangibles platform, an online catalogue of intangible productions and artworks created by a multidisciplinary group of artists, designers, and thinkers. The project was featured in the New York Times, the PBS NewsHour, and Wired, among other national outlets.
Byrne frequently collaborates on independent design projects, including most recently a commission with designer Alex DeArmond for the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial. His work has been included in the exhibitions Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design (Architecture Association), The Live Archive of the Generational: Younger than Jesus (New Museum), Work Product: Designs from the Walker Art Center (Herron School of Art & Design), and De Zines (La Casa Encendida). As a book designer he has received numerous awards, most recently for the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production.
Originally from Minnesota, Daniel Atkinson will return to the Twin Cities from the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (CAMH) where he held the role of Director of Education and Public Programs, notably strengthening CAMH’s renowned Teen Program and working collaboratively to expand the institution’s curricula, interpretive, and public engagement offerings. Atkinson brings to the Walker a wide range of experience in programming for contemporary art institutions, having worked on Family Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, Teen Programs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and as a teaching artist for Dia:Beacon. He has also held educator positions at a range of New York borough schools. He holds a MA in Arts Education from New York University and a BA in Studio Art from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
In his role as Associate Curator of Education and Interpretation Programs, Atkinson will be responsible for creating and coordinating a range of dynamic and innovative projects working collaboratively across Visual Arts, Performance, Design, and Moving Image departments. He will also develop education curricula and interpretive strategies and for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (a collaboration between the Walker and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board). Atkinson will join the Walker staff in October 2015.
Maya Weisinger, who previously served as Tour Coordinator at the Walker, will assume a new role as Access and Audiences Coordinator in the Education and Public Programs department working closely with Daniel Atkinson and Nisa Mackie, the department director. In this position, Weisinger will continue to advance and support the Walker’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion by working interdepartmentally to align programmatic goals with the Walker’s values of accessibility. This will include continuing to foster long-lasting relationships in the community and alongside our partners to create pathways for more audience engagement with Walker exhibitions and programming.
Before joining the Walker, Weisinger received her BA in American Studies from Macalester College and worked at Urban Homeworks, a non-profit that strategizes creatively around providing housing for lower-income Twin Cities residents, and completed a year of service in AmeriCorps, during which she created employment readiness programming in efforts to reduce recidivism rates of North Minneapolis residents.
In 2015, the Walker Art Center celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding as a public art center dedicated to presenting and collecting the art of our times with a series of institutional initiatives, exhibitions and events beginning in the fall of 2014 and extending into 2015. Although it was more than 125 years ago when lumber baron Thomas Barlow (T.B.) Walker built a room onto his Minneapolis house, mounted his 20 favorite paintings on the wall, and opened his door to the community, it was in 1940 that the Walker’s contemporary-focused mission to be a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and active engagement of audiences was born. Supported by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Walker became a public art center presenting the work of living artists, forming a collection beyond the 19th century holdings of its founder to the multidisciplinary works of today’s artists. Daniel Defenbacher, the Walker’s first director, set forth the concept of a multidisciplinary center for the WPA, and in 1939, embarked on the largest community art center launch of his career: the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. On January 4, 1940, the new Walker Art Center opened its doors.
On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, the Walker is undertaking several institutional initiatives including a campus renovation, a capital campaign and staff appointments. A robust program of exhibitions is planned including the major historical surveys International Pop and Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, and the contemporary solo exhibitions of contemporary artists Liz Deschenes, Andrea Büttner and Lee Kit. Two exhibitions, Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections and 75 Gifts for 75 Years, underscore gifts and acquisitions that have consistently breached the boundaries of media or disciplines. These initiatives build on the rich traditions of the Walker as a center for cross-disciplinary programming and community engagement, started by Defenbacher in 1940.