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Endowed curatorship focuses on modern and contemporary art
Over the last several years she has developed a range of engaging contemporary exhibitions, public programs and publications in Canada, Italy and England.

SARASOTA, FLA.- The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has appointed Ola Wlusek to be the first to hold the title of Keith D. and Linda L. Monda curator of modern and contemporary art. The newly endowed curatorship has been funded by Keith and Linda Monda of Sarasota, Florida. Wlusek, a talented contemporary art curator with broad international experience, joined The Ringling on March 19, 2018. In her new role she will be responsible for the development, stewardship and research of The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collections; directing The Ringling’s ambitious modern and contemporary exhibitions schedule; and collaborating with a range of cross-disciplinary artists on new Ringling-commissioned projects and initiatives.

“The Monda family’s philanthropic leadership and enthusiasm for modern and contemporary art and how it can transform lives is truly inspiring,” said Steven High, The Ringling’s executive director. “Thanks to their generous and impactful vision, The Ringling is able to appoint Ola Wlusek to this newly endowed position. Through her exhibitions, project management and active collaborations with an array of international artists and institutions, civic leaders and community partnerships, Ms. Wlusek distinguished herself as committed to fostering an accessible and inclusive conversation around the art of our time.”

The endowment of The Ringling’s modern and contemporary curator position is part of the previously announced leadership gift of $5 million from the Monda family, which was in support of The Ringling’s $100 million comprehensive campaign to preserve and expand its legacy for the 21st century and beyond. In addition to endowing the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda curator of modern and contemporary art, their gift included four significant works of modern and contemporary art from the Mondas’ noted collection by Teo González, Yayoi Kusama, Beverly Pepper and Richard Serra.

“We are thrilled to support The Ringling through this endowed curatorship and warmly welcome Ola Wlusek to Sarasota,” said Keith Monda, who with his wife became full-time residents of Sarasota in 2011, after decades in New York City. Mr. Monda retired as president of Coach, Inc. in 2008. “This gift represents one of our top three priorities to re-activate and sustain The Ringling’s modern and contemporary program, through scholarly expertise, dedicated gallery space and collections growth.”

Wlusek earned a master of arts in contemporary art theory from Goldsmiths, University of London (London, UK), and bachelor’s degrees in both art history and in cultural anthropology from McMaster University (Ontario, Canada). Over the last several years she has developed a range of engaging contemporary exhibitions, public programs and publications in Canada, Italy and England. From 2011 to 2015, Wlusek was curator of contemporary art at the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ontario, Canada) where she organized multidisciplinary projects that explored the contesting social, cultural and community histories. Wlusek most recently served as a public art program coordinator for The City of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) with a focus on social practice and community engagement. While working collaboratively, she considers exhibitions as experiential, flexible and accessible spaces for cultural production and exchange.

The Ringling is the State Art Museum of Florida and is administered by Florida State University. The Ringling Inspires: Honoring the Legacy and Building for the Future campaign has raised $92 million toward its $100 million goal and is an integral part of Raise the Torch: The Campaign for Florida State University.

The Mondas’ gifts fit into one of the key goals of the final phase of The Ringling Inspires campaign: expanding the global impact of The Ringling’s collections through acquisitions, exhibitions and scholarly exchange.

The 2018 gift from the Mondas follows their 2015 gift of $500,000 to support The Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative and fund a permanent space devoted to 21st century works of art. The prominent 2,400-square-foot Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art, which is located in the west wing of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, showcases exciting new projects by emerging and established contemporary artists. The Monda Gallery launched in November 2016 with an immersive site-specific installation by American artist Anne Patterson. On view in the Monda Gallery through June 10, 2018, is Hank Willis Thomas: Branded/Unbranded, an installation of two high-profile series by one of the most articulate and provocative practitioners working today.

The Art of Our Time initiative is The Ringling’s ongoing and wide-ranging commitment to presenting and commissioning new works by contemporary artists in the visual and performance fields. The initiative was designed several years ago to revitalize a program of contemporary art that began at the institution in the 1940s under the leadership of Chick Austin. The Ringling’s reimagined dialogue with contemporary art is one based on experimentation and collaboration, in which visual art, sound art, installation, group projects and performance can be nurtured, supported and presented in partnership without boundaries or departmental silos. This innovative programming, combined with extensive community outreach, has allowed The Ringling to play a vital role in developing an emerging international network of living artists whose work transcends traditional practices.

In addition to the Monda Gallery, exhibition spaces at The Ringling now permanently dedicated to modern and contemporary art include reallocated galleries in the Arthur F. Searing Wing in the Museum of Art, which present rotating selections from The Ringling’s growing collection of modern and contemporary art, and the new Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion, which houses The Ringling’s collection of American and European studio art glass.

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