The Smithsonian American Art Museum has appointed Mary Savig as the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft. Savig’s duties will include research into collection objects; acquiring artworks for the museum’s permanent collection; collection displays at the museum’s Renwick Gallery, its branch for contemporary craft and decorative art; and organizing exhibitions about craft and maker culture. Savig’s research interests include American studio craft, contemporary craft, American art and material culture. Savig begins work at the museum today.
“We are delighted to welcome Mary Savig to the Renwick’s curatorial team.” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “With her deep knowledge of the field and fresh curatorial voice, she will help build our collection and bring craft to life for a contemporary audience in innovative ways alongside Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery.”
Savig comes to the museum from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, where she has been the curator of manuscripts since 2013. Recent exhibitions include “Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archive of Lenore Tawney” (2019) at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and at the Archives, “What is Feminist Art?” (2019). She pursued high-priority collections documenting the history of American studio craft and conducted oral history interviews with Beth Lipman, Preston Singletary and James Tanner. She earned a master’s degree from The George Washington University in 2008 and a doctorate in American studies in 2019 from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her dissertation was titled “Stitches as Seeds: Crafting New Natures.”
Since 2015, following a two-year renovation of the Renwick Gallery’s National Historic Landmark building, the Renwick Gallery has been the sight of blockbuster exhibitions that point to new directions in the field of craft. “WONDER” (2015) and “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” (2018), both created a sensation and attracted record-breaking crowds. Attendance at the Renwick more than doubled in 2018 to nearly 850,000 visitors. “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists,” a nationally touring exhibition, opens at the Renwick February 21. The Renwick Gallery opened as the home of the museum’s craft and decorative art program in 1972.