Ian Alden Russell named Head of Gallery

Ian Alden Russell named Head of Gallery

The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar

Ian Alden Russell.

September 12, 2023
Ian Alden Russell named Head of Gallery
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar
PO Box 8095

Amir Berbić, Dean, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, is pleased to announce that Ian Alden Russell has been named Head of Gallery of VCUarts Qatar.

Russel joins the VCUarts Qatar Community as the School is poised to bring arts programming, research and art and design education to new heights, marking 25 years of collaboration and impact in Qatar and the region.   

Russell brings 15 years of leadership experience to the role. Having led projects with arts organizations, universities, and businesses across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, he specializes in artistic direction, curating, strategic planning, cultural branding, and creative entrepreneurship. Beginning his career as an installation technician while completing a PhD in Dublin, Ireland, Russell credits learning from artists about how to find creative solutions to practical problems as the inspiration for a career dedicated to centering artists’ voices and catalyzing new research and innovation through artistic inquiry. “Many of the most transformative things I have learned in life came from listening to artists, supporting them, and being led by their work as we confront challenges and embrace opportunities for growth and new understanding,” said Russell.

Russell is known for collaborating with artists and organizations across media, working with them to push the boundaries of creative expression. His recent arts collaborations include operations support for the mixed reality concert KAGAMI by composer and artist Ryuichi Sakamoto and Tin Drum, which premiered at The Shed (New York), exhibition design for Wafaa Bilal’s 168:1 as part of the opening of the House of Wisdom in Sharjah (UAE), program development for flagship property developments in Beijing and Shenzhen with K11 Concepts Ltd (Hong Kong) and project development consulting for Tania Bruguera’s Hyundai Commission 10,148,451 for the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern (London). He also has ten years’ performing arts experience, touring and recording with award-winning vocal group Anúna (Dublin).

“I am looking forward to joining faculty and students in advancing new and experimental ways of working across VCUarts Qatar’s platforms. Embracing the vibrant culture of creative innovation in art and design in Doha, it is an exciting moment to collaborate with communities throughout Qatar and the region to build cultural programs where many voices, diverse perspectives, and underrepresented knowledge and skills have a role to play.” —Ian Alden Russell, incoming Head of Gallery, VCUarts Qatar.

Russell’s university collaborations and leadership experience include partnering with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center to develop Renée Cox’s Soul Culture for the Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh). While Curator at Brown University, he served as a member of the executive committee of the Creative Arts Council and was a member of the Brown Arts Initiative during the strategic expansion of the university’s campus and the building of two new arts centers. He also helped develop a curricular partnership between Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship and Brown University’s School of Professional Studies. While Assistant Professor at Koç University in Istanbul, he organized An Innocent City—an exhibition and publication project bringing together local artists, designers, scholars and students to respond to Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence.

Prior to joining VCUarts Qatar, Russell held the post of Artistic Director at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he led the artistic vision and relaunched signature programs as the organization emerged from interim leadership. Previous to this, he was Associate Professor and Director of the MA Programme in Cultural Management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Artistic Director and Chief Curator for K11 Concepts Ltd (Beijing). He was also Assistant Professor in Art History and Archaeology at Koç University (Istanbul) during which he co-curated the Irish premier of Mark Dion at Ormston House (Limerick) with Mary Conlon. While based in Rhode Island, he was Lecturer in Rhode Island School of Design’s Glass Department and Curator of Brown University’s David Winton Bell Gallery where he curated premiers of new bodies of work by Wafaa Bilal, Fatma Bucak, Melvin Edwards, Kim Faler, Kai Franz, Gabriel Martinez, Jin Shan and Vincent Valdez and group exhibitions featuring Paul Chan, Dawn Clements, Hermine Freed, Ja’Tovia Gary, Theaster Gates, Guerrilla Girls, Pierre Huyghe, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Suzanne Lacy, Josephine Mecksepper, Sarah Morris, Howardena Pindell, Rob Reynolds, Martha Rosler, Taryn Simon, Duane Slick and Kerry Tribe. He has held fellowships at Brown University, University College Dublin and University of Notre Dame during which he curated residencies with Betsey Biggs and Fiona Hallinan, a plenary panel on the excavation and reconstruction of the Francis Bacon Studio with Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and exhibitions premiering new works by Alice Maher, Bea McMahon, Dennis McNulty, Niamh O’Malley and Nigel Rolfe and group exhibitions featuring Gerard Byrne, Adam Burthom, Andrew Burton, Fiona Coffey, Dorothy Cross, Tom Fitzgerald, Bárbara Fluxá, Mark Garry, Niamh Harte, Sean Hillen, Áine Ivers, Caroline McCarthy, Denis O’Connor, Andrew Parker and Aaron Watson. Russell has also been a visiting critic at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas, Austin, Rhode Island School of Design, Bryn Mawr College and School of Visual Arts New York. He holds a Ph.D. in History and a B.A. in Archaeology and Ancient History from Trinity College Dublin.

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The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
September 12, 2023

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