Cranbrook names new Photography and Painting Artists-in-Residence

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Cranbrook names new Photography and Painting Artists-in-Residence
Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI.- The Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum Board of Governors and Susan R. Ewing, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art, announced today that new Artists-in-Residence have been named to lead the Painting and Photography departments at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Chris Fraser will serve as the new Photography Artist-in-Residence and Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith will serve as Co-Artists-in-Residence overseeing the Painting department.

“This year, we launched two international searches to find leaders for the Painting and Photography departments,” said Ewing. “Our Search Committees worked diligently to bring a variety of candidates to campus who met with students and staff and delivered lectures to the entire student body. The Academy community was fully involved in the selection of these artists, which is why I am so pleased to make this announcement today. With all of the uncertainty in the world right now, we are comforted by the fact that our incoming class of students and our returning students will have the support and guidance they need from a dedicated group of faculty who are all leaders in their fields.”

Fraser follows Shanna Merola (Photography ’11), who has been serving as the interim Artist-in-Residence this year following the departure of Danielle Dean in 2019. He is an artist and educator who comes to Cranbrook from Oakland, California, and has previously held faculty appointments at Mills College, California State University, Sacramento, and Sierra College.

Chris Fraser is known for constructing environments modeled on historical image-making technologies. From the camera obscura to the magic lantern, Fraser puts objects in dialogue with their images, sacrificing broad distribution for an experience of image that is local and ephemeral.

“We found it exciting that the work Chris produces goes beyond the lens and shows us how the total environment can affect the production of an image,” said Ewing. “As an internationally exhibited, interdisciplinary artist with a solid teaching record, experience with both traditional and expanded photographic practices, and a commitment to building community in the arts, he will be a strong leader and mentor for our students. The field of photography continues to change every day, and the compelling work Chris has done responds to that. We look forward to welcoming him to the Cranbrook campus at a time when it is safe to do so.”

Fraser has exhibited projects in North America, Europe, and Asia, at venues including the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; Disjecta in Portland, Oregon; the D-Museum in Seoul, South Korea; and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

He received a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation and an Irvine Fellowship from the Lucas Artists Residency Program. He has completed residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, Calif.; Awagami Artist-in-Residence Program in Yoshinogawa, Japan; and Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, Calif. His work is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Fraser received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Davis, and his MFA from Mills College.

Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith both served as interim Co-Artists-in-Residence this year following the departure of Beverly Fishman in 2019. Fishman had served as the Painting Artist-in-Residence at the Academy for 27 years.

Mysko is a 2011 graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art’s Painting department. In her work she explores the expanded field of painting through installation, sculpture, painting, digital media, video, and photography. Her color-saturated installations evoke domestic space, consumerist culture, and tropes within art history and pop culture. She has presented solo exhibitions at Wasserman Projects in Detroit, Marc Straus Gallery and Sadie Halie Projects in New York, Good Weather Gallery in Arkansas, and COOP Gallery in Nashville. Mysko has also exhibited a solo project with Time Equities Inc.’s Art in Building Program in New York. She has presented her work in group and collaborative exhibitions across the country, including a recent two-person exhibition with Willie Wayne Smith at Fjord Gallery in Philadelphia. As an educator, she has also taught critical theory, studio art, and art history at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich.

Smith is a 2010 graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art’s Painting department and received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2006. In his work, Smith utilizes a wide range of processes. He examines the potential of imaginative and personal narratives while critically engaging with the history painting and its role in contemporary culture. He has held solo exhibitions at Library Street Collective in Detroit, Sadie Halie Projects in Minnesota and New York, Good Weather Gallery in Arkansas, and Cereal Art in Pennsylvania. He has participated in two-person and group exhibitions across the country. Smith’s work has been featured in LAR Magazine, and on Art Viewer and ArtSpace, where he was listed as one of ten “artists to discover” at the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) in 2017.

“Our current students have been studying with Martha and Willie for a year now and have formed deep connections and responded well to their teaching style,” says Ewing. “They complement each other well and provide the students with a full spectrum of experience. Their work is experimental, yet also resonates from a strong background in classical painting, allowing them to reach a wide variety of students and challenge each of them to expand their practice.”

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