Des Moines Art Center welcomes new curator

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2016

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343

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Des Moines Art Center welcomes new curator

DES MOINES, IOWA (February 2016) – The Des Moines Art Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Alison Ferris as its new senior curator. Ferris has been a curator for more than twenty years and is known for her exhibitions that offer contemporary, critical engagement within a broad-based art historical perspective. For the last five years, Ferris was a curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center where she curated a number of ambitious exhibitions including The Drawing Season (2012); the kids are all right (2013 - traveling to the Weatherspoon Art Museum and the Addison Gallery of American Art); Uncommon Ground (2014); Material Fix (2015); Photography and the Scientific Spirit (2015); and Ann Hamilton: draw (2015). Ferris also served as guest curator for the Portland Museum of Art 2015 Biennial: You Can’t Get There from Here.

Alison FerrisFerris served as assistant director of the Maine Arts Commission from 2009-2010 where she managed the public art program among other responsibilities. As curator at Bowdoin College Museum of Art from 1996 to 2008, she curated more than twenty-five exhibitions of contemporary art including the acclaimed traveling exhibition The Disembodied Spirit. Ferris has served on grant review panels, lectured and taught at institutions across the United States, and has written numerous essays and articles on contemporary art. Ferris holds an M.A. in art history from Binghamton University, New York; and a B.A. in art history from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Ferris says of her move to Des Moines: “I am thrilled to be at the Des Moines Art Center. I have admired Director Jeff Fleming’s curatorial work for years and have always kept track of the exhibitions on view at the Art Center. The permanent collection is magnificent and incredibly inspiring as is the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. I am very excited about the creative potential at the Art Center and look forward to working in a community that enthusiastically embraces contemporary art.”

According to Fleming: “The Art Center board and staff are elated to have Alison on board. We know that she will bring an extraordinary awareness of contemporary art practices and be an active participant in the cultural life of Des Moines, the state of Iowa, and the nation.”

Gilbert Vicario, who had served as senior curator at the Des Moines Art Center since August 2009, left Des Moines in September 2015 to accept a position at the Phoenix Art Museum.

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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