Elissa Auther

Curatorial Researcher: Learning From

Elissa Auther is the Windgate Research and Collections Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design and Visiting Associate Professor at the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. She has published widely on modern and contemporary art. In addition she is a respected curator. Recently, she co-curated Pretty/Dirty the touring retrospective exhibition of the painter and photographer Marilyn Minter, and her newest exhibition Surface/Depth: The Decorative After Miriam Schapiro opened at the Museum of Arts and Design on March 22nd, 2018.


Elissa has undergraduate and graduate degrees in the History of Art. Her PhD was awarded from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. Before moving to Bard Graduate Center, Elissa was Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, University of Colorado. From 2005 to 2014 she also directed the Art History and Museum Studies Programs for the Department. For the past ten years, she has also co-directed the public program Feminism & Co.: Art, Sex, Politics at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.


Elissa’s research interests focus on hierarchies and boundaries in the art world, the women’s art movement of the 1970s and feminist art and theory generally, the history of fibre in art, and contemporary art. Her study String, Felt, Thread and the Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (Minnesota 2010), argues that the remarkable advance of various forms of fiber and fabric from the “low” world of craft to the “high” world of art in the 1960s and 1970s constituted a privileged locus of debate over the definition of art. Her edited volume West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment, 1965-1977 (Minnesota 2012) brought together research on a wide range of visual, material, and performance-based practices of the American counterculture. For bauhaus imaginista she explores how ancient Andean hand weaving influenced Bauhaus emigres like Anni Albers and how this affected the rise of Fibre Art.