Michelle Grabner

Michelle Grabner, artist, critic, professor, gallery director, and co-curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Michelle Grabner is a Chicago-based artist, curator, art writer, Professor and Chair of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, senior critic for Yale University in painting and printmaking, and a curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial – is a dynamic force who has been at the fore of the art world with her ambitious and varied initiatives for some time.

Staying attuned to what is vital and relevant locally, nationally, and internationally, Grabner operates her practice as an artist and provocateur from her Midwest locale and roots. In partnership with her husband, artist Brad Killam, she has run the small but dogged art space The Suburban located behind her Chicago home for fourteen years.  More recently, the couple began the Poor Farm, an international alternative art center in rural Wisconsin.

As one of three curators for the upcoming Whitney Biennial, Grabner is quite possibly the first to identify principally as an artist. With a traveling survey exhibition of her work organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland opening this fall, her friend and mentor David Robbins explains, “Michelle wears a lot of hats but she’s an artist first and last. Artists have a different agenda than do curators, a different relation to history. . . . So with Michelle’s participation [as a curator of the Whitney Biennial] we may see a greater openness to artists who have independently developed valuation systems and uses for art that depart from those reinforced by academe and the marketplace.”   

Championing good art wherever it might be found, Michelle Grabner speaks on her own work, her exhibition spaces, and the process of curating the Whitney Biennial in “The Center Doesn’t Hold” for Tuesday Evenings at the Modern.