Sculptor to head growing undergraduate program

martha friedman

Sculptor and Princeton lecturer Martha Friedman, newly appointed Director of Princeton’s Program in Visual Arts. Paola Ferrario courtesy of Art in America

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts named sculptor Martha Friedman as the new director of the University’s Program in Visual Arts. Friedman has been a member of the Program in Visual Arts faculty since 2009 and became a full-time lecturer in 2011. Her directorship commenced on July 1 when she was also appointed at the rank of Senior Lecturer.

Solo exhibitions of Friedman’s work have been held at the Andrea Rosen Gallery 2 in New York City, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, Locust Projects in Miami, Wallspace in New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, nationally and internationally, including at Frieze New York Sculpture Park in New York City, curated by Tom Eccles; Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem; Museo D’Arte Contemporanea Roma in Rome; and The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. A solo exhibition of Friedman’s work is forthcoming at the Henry Museum in Seattle in 2018.

“Martha Friedman’s appointment crowns something of an annus mirabilis for her,” noted Michael Cadden, chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts, in making the announcement. “Her well-received show at the Andrea Rosen Gallery came fast on the heels of Some Hags, installed in the Great Hall at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts for an extended run in the fall. Martha also models an interdisciplinary way of working we like to encourage. She has found exciting ways to play not only with her students but also with her colleagues at the Lewis Center and beyond. Like her work, Martha emanates a vibrant artistic and intellectual energy I expect will surge throughout the University as a whole.”

Since joining the Princeton faculty, Friedman has taught courses in introductory and advanced sculpture. For juniors and seniors in the Program in Visual Arts, she has led seminars emphasizing contemporary art practices and ideas and addressing current issues in painting, drawing, sculpture, film, video, photography, and performance installation as these students prepare for a solo exhibition. She has also co-taught a course with Director of the Program in Dance Susan Marshall on the intersections of sculpture and dance. In addition, Friedman has joined other Lewis Center faculty to guest teach in “Transformations in Engineering and the Arts.” In this course, a partnership between the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Council on Science and Technology, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Department of Music, faculty and students from departments across the University explore the intersection of arts and engineering while testing the limits of their imaginations in a newly created teaching space called StudioLab. Friedman created the backdrop for a dance piece choreographed by Silas Riener ’06 for the 2014 Spring Dance Festival and collaborated again with Riener on her installation at Art Basel/Miami in 2015. This past spring, Friedman worked with Marshall on her exhibition Dancing Around Things. Friedman has also taught at The Cooper Union, Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, Wesleyan University, and Yale University.

“Having a chance to lead such a rich and dynamic program, a program that has become my academic home, is a humbling honor,” notes Friedman on her appointment. “I’m thrilled to continue guiding the department along the inspired trajectory launched by my visionary predecessor, Joe Scanlan.”

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, and now based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Friedman earned her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and her M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art in 2003.

Friedman’s predecessor, Joe Scanlan, led the Program in Visual Arts since 2009 and will return to teaching full-time.

More than 500 students enroll each year in the 45-plus courses offered by the Program in Visual Arts in painting, drawing, graphic design, photography, sculpture, film, video, and film history and theory, which are taught by a distinguished faculty of working artists, critics, and scholars. Students may pursue a certificate in visual arts, similar to a minor, in addition to a degree in their major, or may major in visual arts through a collaboration between the Lewis Center and the Department of Art and Archaeology. The program annually presents a series of senior thesis exhibitions, offering students the opportunity to design and execute their artistic visions, as well as to test the skills they have honed in the classroom in the public arena.

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