The Walker Art Center announced today that Mary Ceruti will be its next Executive Director. Ceruti currently leads SculptureCenter, a multidisciplinary organization in Long Island City, New York, as Director and Chief Curator. She began her career at Philadelphia Museum of Art before serving as the Program Director for Capp Street Project in San Francisco. Ceruti has been with SculptureCenter since 1999.
“Mary’s visionary leadership of SculptureCenter, her dedication to supporting the most important emerging artists of our time, and her well-known track record of attracting and developing great talent made her a tailor-made choice to lead the Walker now. We couldn’t be more excited for where Mary will take the Walker next.” comments John Christakos, Walker Art Center Board President.
Ceruti will assume the directorship of the Walker in late January 2019. She states, “The Walker has been a trailblazer in identifying the experimental and influential art and artists of its time, continually demonstrating the power of art to help us understand, navigate and shape the contemporary world. I am honored to be selected as the next director of this great institution and believe it is uniquely positioned to create new models for how museums work with artists and diverse constituencies. I am looking forward to partnering with international artists and colleagues, the Minneapolis community, and the experienced and dedicated staff and board of the Walker to build on its world-class collection and ambitious programs.”
“On behalf of SculptureCenter’s Board of Trustees, I would like to express my profound thanks to Mary Ceruti for dedicating 20 years to our institution. Throughout her tenure, Mary served SculptureCenter with distinctive impact and vision. As we enter our tenth decade, as a beloved and influential part of the artistic community in New York and beyond, we wish Mary the very best for her next chapter at such a distinguished and important institution as the Walker Art Center,” comments SculptureCenter board chair, Andreas Beroutsos.
Ceruti notes the similar missions of the Walker and SculptureCenter, “SculptureCenter and the Walker share a commitment to art and artists as catalysts in contemporary culture and both are working internationally to identify the art and artists that most creatively and urgently express the concerns, issues and ideas of our times. Both institutions commission artwork ensuring that artists have the resources and support to produce new, experimental work. As a smaller organization with no collection and a commitment to emerging artists, SculptureCenter usually (but not always) works with artists at very early stages in their career and like the Walker, SculptureCenter often introduces artists to audiences either through their first U.S. show or a more thorough presentation of their work. The Walker and SculptureCenter have almost inverse approaches that are like two sides of the same coin. SculptureCenter looks at the interdisciplinary field of contemporary art from the perspective of the history and legacy of sculpture while the Walker looks at sculpture, or painting, or performance, or film, from an interdisciplinary perspective.”
Ceruti is known amongst artists and colleagues for her dedication to the needs of artists. Artist and SculptureCenter board member Fred Wilson explains, “Mary Ceruti has many, many great strengths as an Executive Director, but the one strength that sets her far apart from others in that position is her connection to, and understanding of, artists. She understands our needs, sees our brilliance when others may not, and gives us unwavering support for our quest to create the “new.” Her abilities are known throughout the borderless art world. Her reputation precedes her. Artists know that Mary gets it, and will put the wind behind your sails.”
Ceruti’s appointment concludes a nearly yearlong search led by the Walker’s Search Committee chaired by Walker board member Andrew Duff. The search firm, Phillips Oppenheim, led more than 40 internal and external stakeholder interviews with staff and community members to inform their search. 10 candidates were interviewed for the position including: high-profile, visionary curators; current directors of smaller institutions; and seasoned chief curators and deputy directors of larger museums. Duff comments, “The search committee was impressed by the breadth, depth and diversity of candidates. Mary’s commitment to both artists and community stood out to us all.” Search committee member Seena Hodges adds, “Mary is a dynamic and engaging individual. Her thoughtful leadership, experience and innate curiosity will certainly take the Walker to the next level.”
In addition to Duff and Hodges, members of the search committee include Vice Chair John Christakos, Jan Breyer, Karen Heithoff, Donna Pohlad and Laura Taft.
Ceruti is admired in the museum field for her development of SculptureCenter and her commitment to artists. Adam Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum, comments “Mary, as a director/curator, has transformed a venerable but modest artist-run organization into a dynamic, internationally-recognized hub for sculpture in all its myriad forms. SculptureCenter has brought to the fore and supported dozens upon dozens of the most significant artists working today. With her clear and persistent sense of mission, open-minded generosity, collaborative spirit and rigor she is one of the most respected and well-liked arts leaders in New York. Above all, she is admired by the artists and her staff for her courage, kindness and integrity. Walker Art Center is so fortunate to have her take the helm.”
A Cleveland, Ohio, native, Ceruti has over two decades of experience as a curator and arts executive. As SculptureCenter’s Executive Director and Chief Curator, she oversees all aspects of program, planning, and organizational development and has spearheaded two major building projects. She has organized dozens of solo and group exhibitions of contemporary art and curated special projects and commissions by over 50 international artists, including Nairy Baghramian, Monica Bonvicini, Alejandro Cesarco, Liz Glynn, Leslie Hewitt, Rashid Johnson, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Agnieszka Kurant, Mike Kelley, and Mika Tajima, among many others. In 2013, she was appointed along with Ilaria Bonacossa as co-curator of the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which resulted in the presentation of a large-scale architectural and sculptural intervention by Katrín Sigurdardóttir. Before joining SculptureCenter in 1999, Ceruti worked as an independent writer and curator with various arts institutions and agencies, including the San Francisco Arts Commission through which she organized three public art projects by Bill Viola. From 1992-1998, Ceruti served as the Director of Programs at Capp Street Project, an acclaimed international residency program where she produced large-scale, site-specific installation projects in San Francisco by artists such as Janine Antoni, Mona Hatoum, Gary Hill, Cildo Meireles, and Fred Wilson. She started her career as a Curatorial Assistant in the Twentieth Century Art Department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Ceruti holds a dual BA in Philosophy from Haverford College and in Art History from Bryn Mawr College. She received her MA from the Inter-Arts Center at San Francisco State University after pursuing an in-depth study of community-based public art projects.
About Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
One of the most internationally celebrated art museums, the multidisciplinary Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is known for presenting today’s most compelling artists from the United States and around the world. In addition to presentations of works from its world-renowned collection, the Walker organizes and hosts exhibitions that travel worldwide and annually presents a broad array of contemporary performance, music, dance, theater, design, moving image, and education programs. The adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the country’s first urban sculpture parks, features at its center a beloved Twin Cities landmark—Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen—as well as some 40 sculptures by multigenerational artists from Minnesota and around the globe on the 19-acre Walker campus.