Professor of Visual Culture, School of Art, Media, and Technology
Lydia Matthews is Professor of Visual Culture at Parsons. Trained as a contemporary art historian at UC Berkeley and the Courtauld Institute, her work addresses how artists, artisans and designers foster democratic debates and intimate community interactions in the public sphere. As a 2001 Spencer Foundation Fellow, Matthews worked with master craftspeople/students at the Kunming Nationalities Institute for Ethnic Minorities Peoples in China's Yunnan Province, which sparked her interest in fostering more robust critical discourses around craft. Since then, she has published widely and lectured internationally on craft's evolving role in contemporary culture, presenting radical models of marketplace emerging at the intersection of design, art and grassroots craft practice. A curator/educational advisor for numerous institutions ranging from small artist-run spaces to artist residencies to major museums, she curates regularly in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, including the U.S. contribution to Art Caucasus International (2005); Artisterium International (2008, 2010); One-Stop (temporary interventions along this volatile post-Soviet city's main boulevard, 2007); and Life Beyond Tourism Project (2010), which sought to illuminate the cultural capital inherent in local culture. Commissioned by Open Society Foundation, she will return in 2012 to offer new strategies for strengthening curatorial infrastructures throughout the southern Caucasus. In 2010, she helped launch a Curatorial Design Research Lab at Parsons, whose activities included a collaborative endeavor with the Benaki Museum Pireos Annex in Athens, Greece. Entitled "Against All Odds: Ethics/Aesthetics" (2011), the project examined participatory co-design in response to urgent global and local environmental and social conditions.
art criticism,cultural studies,curatorial practice,design research