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MAD's Artist Studios Program Expands Under the Guidance of April Kim Tonin, The Maude and Rodney Starkey Deputy Director, Education

New York, NY (February 23, 2021)

Established in 2008, the Museum of Arts and Design’s Artist Studios Program has championed the careers of more than 180 artists representing practices in the arts, craft and design. The only artist residency of its kind, MAD's Artist Studios program is a community engagement and professional development program for contemporary artists and designers that invites artists to interact with visitors as they expand their creative practice while working on-site at MAD.

Through studio visits, artist talks, and hands-on workshops, museum visitors meet practicing artists to ask questions, view works in progress, and gain firsthand exposure to the creative process. MAD Artist Studios residents represent diverse experimental artistic practices and receive professional support, stipends, and studio access to further their careers.

MAD’s Artist Studios program is widely recognized as an innovative model for museum education. Alumni of the program have gone on to highly regarded careers, as well as exhibitions at MAD and other major institutions, including the Queens Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Studio Museum, among others.

The MAD Artist Fellowship was introduced in 2016 to support the practice of emerging NYC-based artists from historically underrepresented communities, and an exclusively virtual residency was introduced in 2020 to expand the reach of the program to artists and designers across the country.

April Tonin

This year, MAD’s Artist Studios program has expanded its reach under the guidance of April Kim Tonin, the Maude and Rodney Starkey Deputy Director, Education. In February 2021, MAD will début the Virtual Artist Studios residency, with three artists selected from a pool of national candidates who will participate in an online residency through July 2021. Along with MAD’s unique Artist Studios residencies, Tonin oversees the Education Department’s onsite and online Public, School, Teen, Family, Access and Docent Programs. Audiences include artists, families, and K-12 students from New York City and the US, high school and undergraduate interns, docents, as well as local and international audiences. During the early months of the pandemic in 2020, all of MAD’s Education programs transitioned online. MAD’s virtual programs currently attract audiences from over 30 states and 20 countries.

“I am truly appreciative of the opportunity to work with such a dedicated group of Education and MAD colleagues. Their innovative spirit has contributed to the success of the Artist Studios residency, and all of the Education department’s programs, which benefits the entire Museum and all of its communities,” said Tonin.

Tonin, who joined MAD in May 2019, is a museum educator and illustrator with over twenty-five years of experience in the arts. In February 2020, Tonin’s position was endowed as the Maude and Rodney Starkey Deputy Director, Education. Prior to her arrival at MAD, Tonin was the Director of Visual Education for fourteen years at the prestigious Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City. Heading a distinctive, museum-based program, Tonin was responsible for developing interdisciplinary K-12 curricula incorporating works of art, artifacts and architecture from international museum collections and global heritage sites. She led 100 visits per year to more than 50 museums, cultural and civic institutions, as well as landmarks in the New York City area.

Tonin began her museum career at The Museum of Modern Art, where she worked for more than eleven years. She created new positions in the Education Department, focusing on educational technologies, and was part of a team that pioneered MoMA’s first distance learning program including classes for incarcerated students. Tonin launched a Museum-wide committee whose work led to the development of MoMA’s first website and gallery kiosk. She also directed an audiovisual and consultation facility for educators worldwide. During her tenure, it served 6,000 educators in 28 states and 16 countries. She produced ten educators’ guides on the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.

A Korean-American native New Yorker, Tonin received an MA in Art History from Columbia University, and a BA in Fine Arts and French from Mount Holyoke College. She is also a professional illustrator, having produced work for publications, private clients, educational institutions, and political campaigns. Her illustrations have been published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Lily (a division of The Washington Post), and Time Out New York. Tonin’s work is in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York, as well as private collections.

Cycle 35 Artist Bios:

Charisse Pearlina Weston
MAD Artist Fellow

The Museum of Arts and Design has selected Charisse Pearlina Weston as its tenth MAD Artist Fellow. Created in 2016, the Fellowship is a full-time opportunity dedicated to promoting emerging artists from historically underrepresented communities by providing a stipend, dedicated studio space, and professional development opportunities.

Charisse Pearlina Weston’s creative work emerges from deep material investigations of poetics and the autobiographical. She utilizes glass to conceptually embody both the everyday risk of anti-black violence and the precocity and malleability of blackness in the face of this violence. Melding glass sculptures and photography with poetic fragments of black experience, her work examines the interstices of black interiors and intimacies. She reuses and re-articulates materials from past installations to formulate the next to represent both repetition as a symbol of Black cultural production and its reliance on an order of temporal engagement in which the second time encodes an emergent originality.

During her MAD Fellowship, Weston will continue her current research on the varying ways contemporary architecture deploys glass as a material invocation of freedom, intimacy, and a site of power in contemporary architecture. She will consider this alongside the material and symbolic use of glass in the surveillance, policing, and other tactics of anti-black violence developed from the “Broken Window Theory.” Weston’s resulting sculptures will examine how the uses and symbolizations of glass in our daily lives reify anti-Black protocols of movement, sight, and being seen.

Weston received her MFA from the University of California-Irvine, an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, a BA from the University of North Texas, and completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. Recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions at Abrons Art Center and Recess (forthcoming), as well as group shows at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, and ArtPace, San Antonio (forthcoming).

Jacob Olmedo
Daily Resident

Jacob Olmedo intertwines textiles, objects, wearables, and hydroponics to convey social and environmental commentary stemming from his own circumstances and identity as a queer artist, the son of a Mexican-immigrant father, and a climate activist. He uses nature as a symbol of a privilege in shortage created by the climate crisis, and the ultimate form of life and commonality that connects all people. His labor-intensive methods combine crocheting and knitting with electronic tufting and mold-making to create scenic installations of disembodied figures and topographical landscapes that relay ideas of privilege in the context of access to land and minority bodies. During his MAD residency, Olmedo will continue recent textile work exploring themes of heritage, social hierarchy, and activism.

Olmedo received the 2020 International Talking Textiles Award and earned his MFA and BFA from the Parsons School of Design. He has recently exhibited at Mana Contemporary, Gregg Museum of Art and Design, and NYC Design Week.

Yeseul Song
Daily Resident

Yeseul Song creates experimental sculptures, interactive installations, digital sketches, and performances to examine the fluid nature of human perception and its relationship to society, culture, and the environment. Her work combines computational technologies and the organic nature of craft materials to create unique aesthetics and experiences. During her MAD residency, she will expand upon her on-going project, Invisible Sculptures, which suggests more inclusive and creative views of the world through non-visual experiences that activate olfactory, auditory, and tactile senses.

Song is currently a member of the New Museum’s NEW INC program and teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has received Tisch’s Future Imagination Collaboratory Fellowship, Mana Contemporary’s New Media Program residency, ITP's Research and Teaching Fellowships, Engelberg Center’s Arts Fellowship, and iF Design Concept Award. She earned a MPS from NYU’s ITP program, a BA from Yonsei University, and is an alum of the School for Poetic Computation.

Soull Ogun
Daily Resident

Soull Ogun explores the relationship between ancient metal fabrication techniques, contemporary philosophy, solar technology, and the re-imagining of Afro-Futurism in her jewelry and sculptural practices, utilizing metalsmithing techniques that encompass and encourage a rich history of blending regality with science. During her MAD residency, Ogun will work with stone lapidary, hand carving, molding, and flameless techniques.

Ogun is co-founder and Head Designer of L’Enchanteur, a jewelry, clothing, and lifestyle incubator that seeks to redefine the meaning of an heirloom. Ogun has created bespoke jewelry for artists including Ms. Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Beyoncé in the film Black is King. She was formerly the lead Jewelry Designer for 3.1 Philip Lim and earned her BA from Morgan State University.


Alex Dolores Salerno
Virtual Resident

Alex Dolores Salerno works to critique standards of productivity, notions of normative embodiment, and the commodification of rest. Their interdisciplinary practice embodies a multiplicity of support structures, and the accumulation of used medical ephemera and bedding collected from their own life and community. Drawing from the bed as a site of collectivity and protest, they argue that to celebrate diverse bodyminds requires an embrace of our interdependencies and a reconfiguration of value and time away from capitalist frameworks. During their residency with MAD, Salerno will intervene their current work with bedding materials by engaging coffee and the herbs of Ecuadorian Horchata for their rich histories and relationship to care. 

Salerno has exhibited at The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation’s 8th Floor Gallery, the Ford Foundation Gallery, and Franklin Street Works, and has participated in Art Beyond Sight’s Art & Disability Residency Program. They earned their MFA from Parsons School of Design and their BS from Skidmore College.

Jen Dwyer
Virtual Resident

Jen Dwyer’s playful ceramic sculptures and otherworldly installations evoke dreams, fantasy, and the desire to escape to a world of one’s own creation. Through ceramics, painting, and installation, Dwyer creates a uniquely powerful, caring, and intimate feminine world, underscored by the artist’s study of Paleolithic talismans, the decadent Rococo aesthetic, and contemporary girlhood culture. During her MAD residency, Dwyer will create a new body of ceramic work, such as vases, urns, sculptures, mirrors, and candelabras, and weave her reoccurring influence of paleolithic figurines within these works.

Dwyer earned her MFA in Ceramics from the University of Notre Dame and her BFA from the University of Washington. She has shown locally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include a solo booth Spring/Break Art Fair in New York City, Maxon Mills Gallery in Wassaic, and GAA Gallery in Provincetown.

Tali Weinberg
Virtual Resident

Tali Weinberg draws on a history of weaving as a subversive language for women and marginalized groups to create a feminist, material archive in response to the worsening climate crisis. Through sculpture, drawing, and textiles, Weinberg traces relationships between climate change, water, extractive industry, illness, and displacement; between personal and communal loss; and between corporeal and ecological bodies.

During her residency, Weinberg will twine, coil, and weave experimental baskets out of medical tubing, sutures, thread, and climate data, using petroleum-derived material to grapple with the intersections of illness and climate crisis.

Weinberg’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Surface Design Journal, the Tulsa Voice, and Ecotone. Recent exhibitions include the University of Colorado Art Museum, 21 C Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, and the Center for Craft. Weinberg has taught at California College of the Arts, University of Tulsa, and Penland School of Craft.

Emma Welty
Virtual Resident

Emma Welty’s research, weaving, and lacemaking practice interrogates her Armenian identity after two generations of assimilation in the United States. Welty's current line of research and writing explores the translations and mistranslations of Armenian lace as it has moved throughout the diaspora, lending itself to further gestures of material translation in the quest for preservation. During her MAD residency, Welty will explore Armenian lace knotting, and the role its portability played in saving the tradition during moments of violent exodus, which echoes loudly today.

Welty earned her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her MFA in Visual Arts and MA in Art History from Purchase College, SUNY. She has taught at Westchester Community College, Purchase College, and the Textile Arts Center.

Artist Studios Program Cycle 34

January 2021

Testimonies from select Artist Studios Alums

Rhonda Weppler

The Artist Studios Program was unique from any residency I have done before in that it allowed museum visitors to pop by the studio and engage with me. While learning to be better at making conversation with new people and sharing my work with others, I got to meet people from all over the world and make genuine connections. Most people come to the museum because they love art and design, so it was easy to find some common ground. Being able to hear their stories and thoughts about art and design was truly a gift! I felt like I found the “home” I was always looking for.

And then the pandemic many, I thought the lockdown would last a few weeks and we would be back in the studios after a short break. As it became understood that the situation would continue for much longer, the Museum encouraged the Artists in Residence to expand their visions of how they could share their work.

I am grateful for the willingness of the museum to support me through my development from a materials-based practice, to one that now includes video and online streaming and online outreach projects. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this opportunity has kept me optimistic and motivated, and pushed me into exciting areas where I never thought I could go.

Patrick Coughlin

Being a resident artist at the Museum of Arts and Design has been one of the most fulfilling professional experiences. I am honored and humbled that I could be affiliated with the museum, work with the excellent staff, and connect with my fellow residents. This past year of quarantine has been challenging to feel connected to creativity, playfulness, and fellowship. Building community with my fellow resident artists and the museum staff has been one of the most enriching experiences. The museum facilitating and holding space for all of us to share our work with the public and with each other has been incredibly grounding, inspiring, and allowed me to feel connected. MAD's programming became a safe port in a stormy ocean. The space to share our practices, frustrations, breakthroughs, failures, and joys was exceptional.

Kazue Taguchi

My exciting MAD Museum Residency began in February 2020. I greatly anticipated going to Columbus Circle and I still remember clearly who visited my studio first and who came last before the lockdown. I had really great conversations with visitors from all over the world in residence at the studio! The actual residency was less than a month, then quarantine started on March 13th. Since the coronavirus is so contagious, we needed to be at home to protect ourselves. It was very unnatural and bad news covered the world.

In that lonely situation, the MAD Museum residency turned into an online program. I missed working at the studio, but it was wonderful that the MAD Museum Zoom programs could come together like this and connect us with national and international audiences. That [was the benefit] of online programs. It was a very uplifting experience for me. During this one year I developed four bodies of artwork, a series of flower pencil drawings as a visual diary, watercolor collages, and large-scale cyanotype collages. I am continuing to develop a car headlamp sculpture which I’d like to show sometime this year!

With this program, I became very focused and able to separate myself from the dark reality the world became. I cannot express how wonderful it was to have these opportunities and meet with amazing people through the MAD residency.  

Virtual Programs Overview

During bi-weekly Open Studio Hours, MAD’s artists-in-residence host virtual studio visits via Zoom webinar in which participants of all ages--families, classes, creative cohorts, and inspiring artists--learn about new directions in contemporary art and design and preview works in progress while joining the artists in their homes and studios.

Participants of all ages are also invited to sign on for monthly Digital Drop-in virtual workshops led by current and former MAD artists-in-residence, in which participants experiment with craft and design processes using materials found at home while connecting with and learning from a practicing artist.

Artists-in-residence meet with teens during bi-weekly virtual Teen Art Chats, during which MAD teen interns interview artists to learn more about their processes, concepts, and paths to becoming practicing artists.

MAD artists-in-residence also meet virtually with K-12 and adult groups for private studio visits led by MAD educators and docents and are featured in bi-monthly Online Verbal Imaging Tours for visitors who are blind or have low vision.

Current and former artists-in-residence are also tapped to lead workshops for in our growing College and Young Adult Programming, with content specifically geared towards students and emerging professionals.

Upcoming Program Dates

Teen Art Chat with Artist Studio Virtual Resident Jen Dwyer
Wednesday, February 24, 4-4:30 PM EST 

Teen Art Chat is a free virtual studio visit series for teens, created by teens in MAD’s Artslife Internship Program. Teen Art Chats connect teens ages 13-18 with a member of MAD’s Artist Studios residency for a teens-only studio visit, facilitated via Zoom webinar and hosted by MAD Artslife teen interns.

Sustainability Workshop with Yuki Iriyama Gray
Wednesday, February 24, 6-7pm EST
$5 general, free for Members and Patrons

Join us on Zoom for a workshop on artistic sustainability with former artist-in-residence Yuki Iriyama Gray, co-sponsored by the New York Institute of Technology Interior Design Student Association.

Bed As Studio: Deconstructing “Hard Work”
Thursday, February 25, 8-9 PM EST

Join artist and MAD Artist Studios resident Alex Dolores Salerno for a slumber party where they will discuss the historical context of these questions and their present-day implications. Alex will present the legacy of artwork made from the bed as well as their own creative practice that incorporates bedding materials. All participants will then be invited to join the conversation.

We encourage participants to get cozy and join from their bed or any comfortable space. Please feel free to reach out to with any access needs. ASL interpretation and closed captions will be provided, and all images will be visually described.

The Art of Set Design
Friday, February 26, 3 PM EST
$10 general
Free for Members, Patrons and students

Some of the most memorable films in history have had unforgettable art direction and design: the stylized soundstage recreation of Las Vegas in One From the Heart, the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the glass and steel Paris of Jacques Tati’s Play Time, and a built-to-scale recreation of Pennsylvania Station in Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock to name just a few. In this special online afternoon lecture on Zoom co-presented with New Plaza Cinema, film historian Max Alvarez analyzes the art of classic, non-CGI motion picture set and production design and the dazzling filmed results. Ken Adam, William Cameron Menzies, Cedric Gibbons, Alexander Trauner, and Richard Day will be among the designers whose astonishing achievements will be studied and celebrated. 

About Max Alvarez

Author, film historian, and public speaker Max Alvarez is a former visiting scholar and guest lecturer for the Smithsonian Institution and previously film curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. His partnerships have included University of California, Los Angeles and Berkeley; Museum of the Moving Image, New Plaza Cinema, Library of Congress, and the National Gallery of Art in D.C. Alvarez’s lecture topics range from the Cold War and political blacklisting to depictions of elections and the US presidency in Hollywood movies, immigration on film, China during the 20th Century, European women artists, censorship history, 20th century Jewish culture, and the British and American theater. Author of The Crime Films of Anthony Mann  and a major contributor to Thornton Wilder/New Perspectives, his latest book is The Cinéphile’s Guide to the Great Age of Cinema.

Digital Drop-in: Contour Drawing
Saturday, March 13, 10 AM ET
$10 general, Free for Members, Patrons, and students.

During this fun and informal workshop, artist and MAD Artist Studios alum Lily Moebes will guide participants in a contour drawing exercise, a fundamental drawing skill that encourages close observation.

About the Artist

Lily Moebes is a Brooklyn-based artist working in textiles, printmaking, and painting. She has been a resident artist at many organizations, including the Textile Arts Center, Museum of Arts and Design, Drop Forge and Tool, and has had her work featured in exhibitions in New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. She graduated with a BA from Barnard in 2015 and is currently an MFA candidate at the Parsons School of Design.  

Online Verbal Imaging Tour
Monday, April 19, 2-4 pm EST

Join us on Zoom for a verbal imaging tour of our current exhibitions specifically designed for visitors who are blind or have low vision.


The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first-century innovation, and fosters a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design. For more information, visit

#MADArtistStudios @MADmuseum

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