Bloomfield Hills, Mich., February 10, 2016 – Cranbrook Academy of Art has named Vivian Beer (Metalsmithing ‘04) the 2016 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award. This is the fifth time the Academy has bestowed the award, which seeks to recognize alumni who have achieved excellence early in their career. Sonya Clark (Fiber ’95) was the first recipient in 2011, Susan York (Ceramics ’95) received the award in 2012, Laura Heyman (Photography ’98) received the award in 2013 and our last recipient was Fabio Fernández (Sculpture ’02) in 2014.
Beer was selected based on her significant accomplishments and thriving studio practice. Her sleek, abstracted metal and concrete furniture combines the aesthetic sensibilities of contemporary design, craft, and sculpture to create objects that alter viewers’ expectations of and interface with the domestic landscape. With a strong foundation in contemporary furniture design, her recent research into the history of American industry, architecture, and transportation—supported in part by a 2014 Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum—adds intellectual rigor and specificity to her work.
Beer is also currently competing on “Ellen’s Design Challenge” on HGTV – a program that features eight competing furniture designers as they compete in various challenges designing and building a series of furniture creations.
She will deliver the public lecture “Refining Landscapes” at Cranbrook Art Museum on February 17 at 6pm. For Vivian, landscape is an inspiration and the setting for her work – the magnificent landscapes of the planet, the cultural landscapes shaped by the Industrial Revolution, and the domestic landscapes that we create at home. Her furniture is inspired by diverse forces of nature and culture such as desert ecosystems and aeronautics. “Refining Landscapes” is a window into her many sources of inspiration, her wide range of skills and tools, and the ongoing question – what can research and the creative “studio” look like?
Her work is included in the collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Museum of Arts and Design and the cities of Portland, Maine and Cambridge, Massachussetts. She holds an undergraduate degree from Maine College of Art and a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Beer has held residencies at a variety of institutions including at the Penland School of Crafts, the State University of New York at Purchase, and the San Diego State University. Visit her website for more information about her studio practice.
“Vivian’s accomplishments in contemporary furniture design during the first half of her career have been remarkable,” said Christopher Scoates, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum. “We are proud to honor her unique curiosity that re-contextualizes what ‘furniture’ can represent.”
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