Laura Steward is the Curator of Public Art at the University of Chicago. Working with entities across the university, she commissions temporary installations, organizes exhibitions in public spaces on campus, and supports the acquisition and siting of permanent works of public art.
Her first major project for the University was Cai Guo-Qiang’s day-time fireworks event, Color Mushroom Cloud, 2017, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first controlled nuclear fission experiment, Chicago Pile One. In 2018, she installed Play on Surfaces and Surfing in the Regenstein Library, consisting of Jessica Stockholder’s sculptures made from defunct office machines. She also mounted works of art throughout the Department of Computer Science in its new home in the Crerar Library. Some of her current projects include The Chicago Sound Show, comprised of newly commissioned sound art works from Chicago artists with Sam Pluta, a professor in the Department of Music; Ann Hamilton at the Oriental Institute for its 100th anniversary, with Jean Evans, chief curator at the OI; Jason Salavon’s The Master Index in the Crerar library stairwell, with Mike Franklin, Chair of the Department of Computer Science; and building an art collection for the Harris School of Public Policy that supports its social justice mission.
Steward previously held curatorial and leadership positions at the Santa Fe Institute, Laura Steward Projects, SITE Santa Fe, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, where she was founding curator. While at MASS MoCA, she was an adjunct faculty member at Williams College and Bennington College. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Williams/Clark Graduate Program in the History of Art.