LAWRENCE — The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has announced the hiring of Sydney Pursel as the institution’s first curator for public practice. This new position will focus on ways to include community voices in the Spencer Museum’s exhibitions and programs along with shaping the direction of the museum as a partner dedicated to equity, justice, accessibility and community care.
Pursel graduated from KU in 2017 with an MFA in expanded media. During her graduate work she also spent a year as the Spencer Museum’s intern for global and Indigenous art. She has worked on projects at the National Museum of the American Indian, the Fruitlands Museum and the Ioway Tribal Museum and Culture Center. Most recently she has focused on her personal art practice in addition to public art projects, including the White Cloud Community Mural in White Cloud.
“I am drawn to work in museums because of their role in creating space for people to connect, share stories and learn from each other,” Pursel said. “Being able to help others experience art in new, creative and public-centered ways in an established institution like the Spencer Museum of Art is a dream come true.”
Pursel, who is an enrolled member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, said she is also excited to be closer to her tribal community and to strengthen the Spencer Museum’s relationships with Native students, artists and community members.
Dee Ann DeRoin, fellow tribal member and president of the Spencer’s Friends of the Art Museum Board, said she was excited and proud to see Pursel step into this new role.
“I have witnessed firsthand Sydney's impact on our tribe in terms of increased interest in our art, history, language and culture. I am confident she will have the same positive impact on the many diverse communities served by the Spencer Museum,” DeRoin said.
The curator for public practice position was designed to stimulate community engagement and education in Lawrence and across the state to reach audiences of different ages, abilities, learning styles and interests. Pursel will develop projects with artists and the community such as residencies and commissions that activate the Spencer Museum’s spaces and collections in new ways.
“I am driven by firsthand experience of the ability of art to bring awareness, start conversation, ask questions, create empathy, find creative solutions, make change and build community,” Pursel said.
Pursel invites anyone who is interested in learning more about her position or partnering with the Spencer Museum to reach out to her by email at email@example.com.
Top image: Sydney Pursel, right, interacts with visitors at a recent sneak peek of the Spencer Museum’s renovated galleries.
Right image: Sydney Pursel is the Spencer Museum’s first curator for public practice.