CLEVELAND, November 6, 2019 — FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is pleased to announce significant new additions to its team: Sarah Spinner Liska as Deputy Director, Meghana Karnik as Associate Curator, and Lo Smith as Curatorial Assistant. The expanded team underscores FRONT’s commitment to producing a world-class contemporary art exhibition that is deeply rooted in the region. Full bios of the FRONT staff are below.
“I am excited to be working with such a dynamic team, combining deep knowledge of Cleveland with diverse professional and academic perspectives,” says FRONT Founder and Executive Director Fred Bidwell. “Sarah, Meghana, and Lo will be instrumental in helping us develop an even more vibrant and engaging experience, for Clevelanders and visitors alike.”
As Deputy Director, Sarah Spinner Liska will work closely with Fred Bidwell to build on the success of FRONT’s inaugural exhibition in 2018 and to grow the organization into a long-term institution with wide-reaching impact. Spinner Liska, a lawyer and historian, brings a unique combination of strategic, political, and academic expertise to the team’s institutional staff and will work to elevate FRONT as a cultural force in the region and the nation.
“Having known and admired Sarah Spinner Liska for years, I congratulate FRONT for such an inspired appointment,” says Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Sarah is a wonderful colleague, a dedicated leader, and a brilliant and imaginative thinker. She will bring much to the artistic community and to FRONT.”
FRONT Associate Curator Meghana Karnik is a Cleveland native who trained at Case Western Reserve University and Columbia University. She was previously Associate Director of EFA Project Space in New York, a cross-disciplinary exhibition venue and professional development incubator for contemporary culture producers. Her research and curatorial roles extend across the U.S. and Europe. Karnik’s international and local perspective builds a strong foundation for FRONT’s local artistic team.
Curatorial Assistant Lo Smith is a multi-disciplinary artist, and also from Cleveland. Their art and curatorial practice intersect at sites of careful listening where they create space for and give power to marginalized bodies. Smith returns to Northeast Ohio following studies at Brown University and is eager to explore art’s potential to create and sustain change within the city.
“Our curatorial team can be highly playful and experimental in this second edition,” says Karnik. “FRONT has a great potential to activate the region and shine a light on what is left unseen in contemporary culture. At this phase, we want to be rigorous researchers and coalition-builders, with attention to the cultural contradictions of Cleveland.”
Spinner Liska, Karnik, and Smith join Executive Director Fred Bidwell, Co-Artistic Directors Prem Krishnamurthy and Tina Kukielski, Operations Manager Caitie Moore, Administrative Assistant Allison Smith, and production partner L.A.N.D. Studio. The team’s combined experience, diverse voices, and long track record of developing innovative, award-winning programming will allow FRONT to rethink the process of exhibition making and model new forms of cultural activity and engagement.
The second iteration of FRONT International will run from July 17 through October 2, 2021. Building on the success of their inaugural exhibition in 2018, FRONT 2021 will further the Triennial’s commitment to presenting experiences that extend beyond traditional museum exhibitions to activate new and sustained cultural interest in the region. The 2018 edition brought over 90,000 visitors from more than 25 countries to the area and generated $31 million in new economic activity.
Director, Cultural Counsel
FRONT Staff Biographies
Deputy Director Sarah Spinner Liska is a lawyer and historian, with extensive experience in the arts and project management. After moving to Ohio, Sarah worked on the inaugural edition of FRONT International and also served as Director of Data and Analytics on a congressional campaign. Sarah holds a doctorate from Yale University, where she received the Hans Gatzke Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in European History, and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal and the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities. Sarah also holds a B.A. in the History of Art and French and an M.A. in Humanistic Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
Associate Curator Meghana Karnik is a curator, arts administrator, and artist who organizes culturally responsive and artist-centered projects. Prior to joining FRONT’s curatorial team, she was Associate Director of EFA Project Space (New York, NY), a collaborative, cross-disciplinary arts venue and professional development incubator for contemporary culture producers. She has held research roles at Harlan Levey Projects, Teachers College (Columbia University), SPACES (Cleveland), and Cleveland Clinic Art Program, and her curatorial work has unfolded at Penthouse Art Residency (Brussels, BE), Foundation and Center for Contemporary Art (Prague, CR), and Zygote Press, Inc (Cleveland). Her interests lie in the history of artist-led activism, ‘alternative’ spaces, and interdisciplinary, performance, and social practice art. Karnik holds an MA in Arts Administration, Columbia University, a BA in Political Science and Art History, Case Western Reserve University, and studied Drawing at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Curatorial Assistant Lo Smith is an artist and curator born and raised in Cleveland, and as a result, is both aggressively midwestern and unapologetically black. Their art and curatorial practice intersect at sites of careful listening where they create space for and give power to marginalized bodies. They are interested in unraveling revisionist histories, the power of print, and growing things where they’re not supposed to be. Smith studied Visual Arts and Community Health at Brown University.
Operations Manager Caitie Moore is an artist and arts administrator whose personal practice focuses on the photographic book. Caitie joined the FRONT team in 2016, facilitating projects and communications across partner institutions and teams, among others. In addition to being FRONT’s Operation Manager, Caitie is the Operations Manager at Transformer Station a private art museum in Cleveland, OH. She also manages the collections for the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation (Cleveland, OH) and is the founder of Nomadic Bookshelf (est. 2014), a non-traditional bookstore that specializes in limited edition artist-made photobooks. Caitie holds a BFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Administrative Assistant Allison Smith is an Ohio-native artist and arts administrator. A double alumnus of Kent State University, she holds a BFA (2014) and MFA (2018) in studio art with a concentration in textiles. In addition to being on the FRONT team, Smith works as the Gallery Assistant at Transformer Station (Cleveland). She previously served as the Graduate Assistant to the Director of the School of Art Collection & Galleries at Kent State University, and as Museum Assistant at Massillon Museum.