Michael J. Strand is a Professor of Art and Head of Visual Arts at North Dakota State University. With a background as a functional potter, Michael’s work has moved seamlessly into social and community engagement while remaining dedicated to the traditional object as he investigates the potential of craft as a catalyst for social change.
In May 2016, Strand will bring “Misfit Cup Liberation Project” to the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. This work is an extension of recent national and international projects that led to Strand being named “2015 Ceramic Artist of the Year” by Ceramics Monthly. Strand is currently a 2014-16 Bush Foundation Fellow focused on the potential of functional design to facilitate cross-cultural communication extending from Brazil, Taiwan, South Africa and Europe.
Strand’s work has been published internationally, with articles in American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Art and Perception, Studio Potter, Hemslojen, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Public Art Review. His work is also included in Yale University Press publication “40 Under 40: Craft Futures” and the recently published Bloomsburg Press publication – “Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary Culture”, both authored by Smithsonian curator Nicholas Bell.
Strand lectures and leads workshops extensively with recent engagements at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., the Estonian Academy of Art, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Society of North American Goldsmiths – Boston Conference, The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Asheville, NC, The Model in Sligo, Ireland, American Craft Council, University of Kentucky, University of Florida, Kansas State University, New York State College of Ceramics-Alfred, the University of Nebraska, Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR, SOFA-Chicago, Glassell School of Art in Houston, TX, The Ohio State University, University Federal San Joao Del Rei in Brazil and Universidad Caxias Do Sul in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil.
One of the joys of being an artist is the ability to dream without limitations and then acting on those dreams without the fear of failure. With this mindset I can imagine that a cup could be infused with the spirit of the late Charles Kuralt, branching out into the country to seek out stories waiting to be told, or that a cup could hold the potential of the great Desmond Tutu, and be integral in conversations of mediation. Without practical limitations on function I am free to conceptualize how an object can move into the world as a catalyst to connect individuals through the shared use of functional ceramic ware.
Current projects question and seek answers to; relationships between religious and political factions, public and private accessibility in a democratic society, the deployment of art and craft in culture, and craft as a tool of benevolence. These topics are explored through art delivery strategies that create real physical social networks.
As an incurable romantic, I approach all of these processes with the optimism that humanity has great potential to prevail over the destructive divisions that exist in our world today.