Global Arts and Cultures

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Zoë Ryan | Conversations in Contemporary Design | Portals for the Imagination: Making Architecture and Design Exhibitions


Friday, November 12, 2021


Zoë Ryan is Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. She joined the ICA in November 2020. Prior to the ICA, she was the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). At AIC, she founded the contemporary design collection and set the vision for collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary architecture and design as expanded fields of practice in dialogue with the socio-political conditions of the times. Her recent exhibitions include, In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury (2019), that made better known a critical transnational network of artists and designers active in Mexico in the post-revolutionary period, and Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute, a major installation of the modern and contemporary architecture and design collections (2017–ongoing). In 2017, she edited As Seen: Exhibitions that Made Architecture and Design History, the first volume to explore in depth the important role that exhibitions have played in the history of these fields.

Her past exhibitions include: Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye (2015); Fashioning the Object: Bless, Boudicca, and Sandra Backlund (2012), and Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention (2011). In 2014, she was the curator of the second Istanbul Design Biennial, The Future Is Not What It Used To Be. Ryan has taught graduate seminars on curatorial studies and design history and theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of the Design Trust International Advisory Council, Hong Kong and of the Executive Committee of the International Confederation of Architecture Museums (ICAM).