Shannon Stratton is a founder and current Executive and Creative Director of threewalls Chicago, a not-for-profit residency and exhibition space. Founded in 2003, threewalls has grown from a start-up exhibition space to a vital visual arts organization that supports contemporary visual arts in Chicago through solo exhibitions for regional artists, residencies, grants to artists, publications, conferences and commissioning programs. Founded on the mission of better supporting visual arts in Chicago, threewalls aims to provide a stable base of support to extensive community of artists who call Chicago and greater Illinois home. Programmed in collaboration with a rotating committee of local artists, threewalls was modeled after the classic Canadian artist-run-center model, a program that Stratton was inspired by growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Stratton's background is both in studio practice and art history, theory and criticism with a focus in craft practice and artist-run administration. Her writing on contemporary craft, fiber art and exhibitions has been published by Berg Publishing and Ronsdale Press as well as university galleries, art centers, commercial galleries and magazines throughout the US and Canada. With Green Lantern Press she founded and published (via threewalls) PHONEBOOK, a guide to contemporary independant and artist-run projects, now in its third volume, and The Artists Run Chicago Digest, a companion, appraisal and extension to the exhibition of the same name at The Hyde Park Center.
Stratton curates independently and in collaboration with Jeff M. Ward and Judith Leemann. Projects include: Resonating Bodies, The Soap Factory, Minneapolis (forthcoming), Ps & Qs, The Glassel School of Art, Houston and The Hyde Park Arts Center, Chicago (with Jeff Ward); Things to Be Next To at Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas/threewalls, Chicago (with Kate Hackman); Bellwether at Vox Populi, Philadelphia; Reskilling at Western Front Exhibitions, Vancouver, Canada (with Luanne Martineau) and Gestures of Resistance: Craft, Performance, and the Politics of Slowness (with Judith Leemann) a panel discussion and exhibition at the College Art Association, Dallas, Texas and The Portland Museum of Craft, Portland, Oregon. In the summers she works with Harold Arts in SE Ohio, coordinating projects including residencies, festivals and site-specific architecture. Survival has been ongoing temporary, intentional community that met at the Harold site in August of each year.
In 2010 Stratton was named one of the top 5 most vital people in the visual arts in Chicago by NewCity. In 2011 she was a fellow of the NAMAC Visual Arts Leadership Institute and a finalist for the Chicago Community Trust Emerging Leader Award. Stratton was one of nine leaders in the arts featured in the Chicago Tribune 2011 Chicagoans of the Year.
Stratton teaches in Art History, Theory & Criticism and Fiber & Material Studies departments at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was appointed Critical Studies Fellow at The Cranbrook Academy of Art for fall 2012. In 2013 she was a recipient of the Alberta College of Art Board of Governors' Alumni Award of Excellence.
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