Michael J. Strand is 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's “Misfit Cup Liberation Projet" took place at the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taipei, 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 a 2014-16 Bush Foundation Fellow which focused on the potential of functional design to facilitate cross-cultural communication extending from Brazil, Taiwan, South Africa and Europe. Strand was also recently elected to the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC) - and joined the board of Trustees for the American Craft Council in 2016.
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 and edited 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.
Who are your role models or inspiring folks?
My mentors in graduate school, Gail Kendall, Pete Pinnell and Eddie Dominguez from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been life long friends and I am continually reaching out to them as colleagues because they are the epitome of servant leadership as Professors who give so much to the field.
Outside of art and design fields, what inspires you?
I am inspired by seeing and experiencing new cultures. I have done work in Brazil, Taiwan, Guernsey, Estonia among other countries and I am left with a new understanding of what it means to be human.
What do you wish you had known when you started out as a student/in this field?
That communication is the most critically important skill to have as an artist/designer.
What was your most memorable meal?
I spend two weeks driving around England with my Mentor, Gail Kendall. We stopped and had dinner at a restaurant that was featured on an Anthony Bordain episode. This was just prior to his passing away. I will always remember the moment of wonderful food in an enchanting tavern with Gail.
In your office, you can only have three things, one book, one tool, and one picture. What would they be and why?
Ambient Rhetoric by Thomas Rickert --- My iphone, as it is the contemporary swiss army knife -- The image I have of my two sons and I in Australia.