Laura Steward


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.


Life After Death: New Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection (with Mark Coetzee, exh. cat.)

Miami: Rubell Family Collection

“Jerry’s Map,” in Vestiges and Verses exhibition catalogue, New York: Museum of American Folk Art, 2018


“A Whole Composed of Parts that are Whole: An Incomplete Picture of Rina Banerjee,” in Rina Banerjee: Chiméres de l’Inde et de l’Occident, exhibition catalogue, Paris: Musée Guimet, 2011


“In Your Ear: Hearing art in the twenty-first century,” in Organized Sound 10: 91-96, Cambridge University Press, 2005


“Uncommon Denominator,” in Austria Culture, the magazine of the Austrian Cultural Forum, June/July 2002


“Janine Antoni’s Gnawing Idea," in Gastronomica 2, University of California Press, 2001


“Tim Hawkinson’s Uberorgan,” in Tim Hawkinson. Ed. Phillip Monk. Toronto: The Power Plant and North Adams, MA: MASS MoCA, 2001


“Oursler’s Ether,” in Introjection: Tony Oursler Mid-Career Survey. Ed. Deborah Rothschild. New York: Distributed Art Press and Williamstown, MA: Williams College Museum of Art, 1999



Jessica Stockholder, Play on Surfaces and Surfing, University of Chicago, 2018

Cai Guo-Qiang, Color Mushroom Cloud, University of Chicago, 2017

Other Currencies, Santa Fe Institute, 2017

Transient Luminous Events in the Mesosphere: Sprites! (with Thomas Ashcraft), Santa Fe Institute, 2016

Piero Golia’s Chalet Hollywood, Los Angeles, 2014

Cryptic: The Uses of Allegory in Contemporary Art, with a Master Class from Goya, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 2011

Pretty is as Pretty Does, SITE Santa Fe, 2009

Steina Vasulka: 1970-2000, a retrospective, SITE Santa Fe, 2008

Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune, SITE Santa Fe (traveled from MASS MoCA), 2006

Life After Death: New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection (with Mark Coetzee, Rubell Family Collection, Miami), SITE Santa Fe, 2006


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