"Present Tense: 2019" Conference

Keynote speaker - Hrag Vartanian

The editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian is an editor, art critic, curator, and lecturer on contemporary art with an expertise on the intersection of art and politics. Breaking news, award-winning reporting, informed opinions, and quality conversations about art have helped Hyperallergic reach over a million readers a month. Some of his notable essays from the past few years include “Imagining the Future Before Us: Forward to Sharon Louden’s The Artist as Culture Producer” (Walker Blog, March 17, 2017), “Adrian Paci Shows Us How We Mourn the Death of Dictators” (Hyperallergic, October 12, 2017), and “The Elusive Index of Relationships Between Everyone” (Hyperallergic, June 15, 2018). He started podcasting regularly in 2016, and last year he launched Art Movements, which is a weekly audio magazine.Notable past episodes have wondered why the female painters of Abstract Expressionism are still being overlooked, he also traveled to North Dakota to record a three-part series from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, and he composed a long-form audio essay about the life and art of David Wojnarowicz that talks to the deceased artist’s friends, his friend-turned-biographer, and the ACT UP members who spearheaded the actions at the museum retrospective in 2018. He has curated exhibitions and published in alternative venues and formats for two decades, and in 2017, he began a 10-year project titled Fixed Point Perspective, which will look at the contemporary legacy of Ottoman studio photography. In April 2018, he created a collaborative installation with artist Sharon Louden at the Mary Sharpe and Walentas Studio Program in Brooklyn, NY. Titled Origins, it explored the five-year professional and personal friendship between the pair as a starting point for a bigger conversation about beginnings and ends. The video from the installation is also available on his YouTube channel.

He also tweets a lot.

Additional speakers, presenters, and facilitators

Glenn Adamson

Glenn Adamson is a curator, writer, and historian who works at the intersection of craft and contemporary art. Currently a senior scholar at the Yale Center for British Art, he has previously been director of the Museum of Arts and Design; head of research at the V&A; and curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. He is editor of Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making, published by CraftNOW in conjunction with Schiffer on the occasion of the ACC national conference. Adamson’s publications include Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects (2018); Art in the Making (2016, co-authored with Julia Bryan-Wilson); The Invention of Craft (2013); Postmodernism: Style and Subversion (2011, co-edited with Jane Pavitt); The Craft Reader (2010); and Thinking Through Craft (2007). Most recently he has completed a biography of the artist Lenore Tawney, included in the John Michael Kohler Art Center’s exhibition catalogue Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe.

Ryan Berley

Ryan Berley is a Media, Pennsylvania, native, his parents having been married at the Old Mill in Rose Valley. When the family wasn't traveling the country visiting antique markets and museums, they were living above their antiques shop, The Saturday Evening Experience, on Baltimore Avenue. Ryan graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with dual degree in history and entrepreneurship. Following college, he worked as an auction specialist at Samuel T. Freeman & Company, heading the 20th-century design department. He has traveled to arts and crafts sites in England, Europe, and the United States and attended a variety of arts and crafts conferences. In 2004, Ryan and his brother Eric opened The Franklin Fountain, a turn-of-the-century soda fountain ice cream parlor in Old City, Philadelphia, that has received international acclaim. In 2011, the Berley Brothers purchased and preserved nearby Shane Confectionery, the oldest candy shop in America, and they continue to handcraft sweets onsite in the old-world tradition. They have been featured in Smithsonian magazine, the New York Times, and Food & Wine and received preservation awards for their work. Ryan has curated and lectured on craftsmanship, history, baseball, and confectionery at local and international institutions. Since 2015, Ryan has been a board member of the Rose Valley Museum & Historical Society, where he is curator of the Rose Valley Museum. Ryan and his partner Lizzie, along with her sister Mary Ellen and brother Jim, are the resident caretakers of the house at Thunderbird Lodge, a 1904 masterwork by William L. Price in Rose Valley.

Meg Bye

Meg Bye is an artist based in Seattle. Pronouns she/her. Bye started woodworking at an early age, and moved on to study sculpture, conservation, and business. In 2014, Bye founded Knot & Burl Studios, a sculpture and fine furnishings studio in Seattle. Her large scale, site-specific installations blend traditional craft knowledge into modern sculptural spaces. Bye works in wood, metal, leather, glass and organically sourced materials. She sells to private and public collections, and her work can be found in Chicago, Seattle, Alaska, Boston, New York, London, and Paris. Bye is an active advocate for cultural growth that empowers artists. She is a frequent lecturer and advocate for women and gender non-binary individuals within the maker/arts fields.

Seth C. Bruggeman

Seth C. Bruggeman is an associate professor of history at Temple University, where he also directs the Center for Public History. A graduate of the College of William & Mary’s PhD program in American studies, Bruggeman studies the role of memory in public life, and particularly how Americans have used objects – in museums, monuments, historic, sites, and other commemorative spaces – to exert control over how we understand the past. His courses concern American cultural history, material culture, memory, and public history. His books include Commemoration: The American Association for State and Local History Guide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), Born in the USA: Birth and Commemoration in American Public Memory (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), and Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument (University of Georgia Press, 2008).

Raheleh T. Filsoofi

Raheleh Filsoofi is a multidisciplinary artist based in Texas, South Florida, and Iran. Her work synthesizes sociopolitical statements as a point of departure and further challenges these fundamental arguments by incorporating ancient and contemporary media such as ceramics, poetry, ambient sound, and video; aiming for a holistic sensory experience. Her interdisciplinary practices act as interplay between the literal and figurative contexts of border, immigration, and intercultural communications. She is an active participant in juried art exhibitions in Iran and the United States, including the recent solo exhibition “The Inh(a/i)bited Space” a multimedia Installation on border and immigration issues at the O’Kane Gallery in Houston, Texas, (2018) and “Imagined Boundaries,” a multimedia digital installation consisting of two separate exhibitions debuted concurrently at Florida Cultural Consortium and Abad Art Gallery in Tehran (2017); “Dual Frequency” group exhibition at Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida (2017). She has been the recipient of various grants and awards, such as the prestigious South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual and Media Artists funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Dave Bown Project Award (2016). She is assistant professor of ceramics at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley department of art. She holds an MFA in fine arts from Florida Atlantic University and a BFA in ceramics from Al-Zahra University in Tehran, Iran.

Alex Gilliam

A cheerleader of possibility, Alex Gilliam is the founder and director of Public Workshop and the co-founder of Tiny WPA. He believes great design, empowerment, innovation, and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Uniquely combining his skills as a designer, teacher, expert builder, and social entrepreneur, Alex is redefining the way youth and adults participate as citizens and leaders in the design of their communities and works with them to address the most pressing challenges in the world around them. His engagement-through-doing methods often start with building, and from the very beginning of every project he is designing and building with rather than for. His work has been featured on NPR and in magazines such as Metropolis, ID, Architect, and the Architect’s Newspaper, as well as showcased on various websites including EduTopia, Fast Company, BMW Guggenheim Lab|Log, GOOD, Kaboom!, Core 77, Yahoo!, and NBC’s TODAY. Alex received his BS Arch with a minor in history from the University of Virginia and an M.Arch from the University of Texas in Austin.

PJ Gubatina Policarpio

PJ Gubatina Policarpio is an educator, curator, and community organizer. His practice uses research, collaboration, pedagogy, and curatorial and public programming as both art and tool. PJ designs spaces for critical and thoughtful interactions between communities, artists, and art; especially addressing a diverse, multilingual, and multicultural audience. He brings dynamic experience in museum education and art administration previously working at the Museum of Modern Art, Queens Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. He has presented at Open Engagement, American Alliance of Museums, and the College Art Association and delivered lectures/presentations at Cooper Hewitt, the Field Museum, The New School, Textile Arts Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and more. His publication Textiles of the Philippines is in the collection of the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Born in the Philippines, PJ works between Queens and San Francisco. Find him on Instagram @pjpolicarpio.

Sonya Kelliher-Combs

Alaska Native mixed-media artist and arts advocate, educator, and curator, Sonya Kelliher-Combs was born and raised in rural Alaska. Her BFA is from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and MFA from Arizona State University. Her work has been exhibited extensively and can be found in numerous collections. Kelliher-Combs lives in a modern world, but still depends on the cultural traditions and values of her people, respect of land, animals, sea, and each other. Personal symbolism forms her imagery. Symbols speak to history, culture, family, and the life of her peoples; they also speak about abuse, marginalization, and the struggles of indigenous people. She strives to create works that address these issues.

Sharon Louden

Sharon M. Louden is an artist, educator, advocate for artists, editor of the Living and Sustaining a Creative Life series of books and the artistic director of the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution. Sharon is a faculty member in the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and a Senior Critic at the New York Academy of Art where she organizes a popular Lecture Series, interviewing luminaries and exceptional individuals in the art world and from afar. In addition, Louden is active on boards and committees of various not-for-profit art organizations and volunteers her time to artists to further their careers, working with the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Ox-Bow School of Art and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, NYFA and the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation.

Roberto Lugo

Roberto Lugo is an American artist, ceramist, social activist, spoken-word poet, and educator. Lugo uses porcelain as his medium of choice, illuminating its aristocratic surface with imagery of poverty, inequality, and social and racial injustice. Lugo’s works are multicultural mash-ups, traditional European and Asian porcelain forms and techniques reimagined with a 21st-century street sensibility. Lugo is the recipient of the 2019 Rome Prize. His work is part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and more.

Jennifer-Navva Milliken

Jennifer-Navva Milliken is the artistic director for the Center for Art in Wood. Prior to her arrival at the Center, she served as an embedded staff member in international art museums, as an independent curator, and as the founder of a cross-disciplinary art space. Her exhibitions have been presented in museums, art fairs, galleries, and unconventional spaces, and her writings have been seen in exhibition catalogues, anthologies, and publications that investigate and critique the intersecting fields of art, craft, and design. With a global perspective honed through a life split between two continents, she is driven by the extraordinary power of the arts to challenge preconceptions and bridge divides.

Paul Sacaridiz

Paul Sacaridiz is the executive director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. He has more than 16 years of experience in higher education, and prior to leading Haystack, he served as professor and chair of the department of art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Paul has been a fellow with the National Council of Arts Administrators and has served on the boards of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+). His work as an artist has been included in exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, among others.

Mary Savig

Mary Savig is the curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including “Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archive of Lenore Tawney,” currently on view at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She also collects papers for the mid-Atlantic region and on the subject of American studio craft. She has a PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Judith Schaechter

Judith Schaechter has lived and worked in Philadelphia since graduating in 1983 with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design glass program. She has exhibited widely, including in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, The Hague, and Vaxjo, Sweden. She is the recipient of many grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in crafts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, the Joan Mitchell Award, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts awards, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and a Leeway Foundation grant. Her work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Hermitage in Russia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and numerous other public and private collections. Judith’s work is noted in two survey-type history textbooks, Women Artists by Nancy Heller, and Makers by Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos. Judith has taught workshops at numerous venues, including Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, the Penland School of Crafts, Toyama Institute of Glass (Toyama, Japan), and Australia National University in Canberra Australia. She has taught courses at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy, the New York Academy of Art, and at the University of the Arts, where she is ranked as an adjunct professor. Judith's work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, a collateral exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2012, and she is a 2008 USA Artists Rockefeller Fellow. In 2013, Judith was inducted into the American Craft Council College of Fellows.

Susan S. Szenasy

Susan S. Szenasy is known as a design advocate, historian, and educator. She taught history and ethics at New York’s Parsons School of Design. She is director of design innovation at Metropolis, where she served as editor in chief for more than three decades. Among many recognitions, she’s received a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and four honorary doctorates. She is advisor to NYSID’s Masters in sustainable design, Parsons’ Healthy Material Lab, and the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s board of emeritus.

Folayemi (Fo) Wilson

Folayemi Wilson is an artist, educator, writer, and independent curator. She earned an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in furniture design with a concentration in art history, theory and criticism. She is a grant recipient of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Propeller Fund. Her writing and reviews have appeared in such publications as NKA, Journal of Contemporary African Art, and the International Review of African American Art (IRAAA). Wilson has been awarded residencies or fellowships at ACRE, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Djerassi, Kohler Arts/Industry program, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, MacDowell Colony, and Purchase College/SUNY Purchase New York. She is on the board of the American Craft Council and was honored as a 3Arts awardee in 2015. Her design work is included in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design.

Carol Zou

Carol Zou is an artist, writer, educator, and cultural organizer, who has worked for more than a decade on the relationship between arts, culture, community, and activism. Notable projects include Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, Michelada Think Tank, and Trans.lation Vickery Meadow. Carol received her BFA from Cornell University with minors in Urban Planning and Gender Studies, and her MFA in public practice from Otis College of Art and Design. She has participated in fellowships and residencies from Intercultural Leadership Institute, National Art Strategies, Women's Center for Creative Work, Common Field, University of Chicago Place Lab-Rebuild Foundation, and University of Houston College of the Arts-Project Row Houses.