For over 30 years, Grabner has created patterned-based work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, video and sculpture. Exploring themes such as domesticity and “Midwest pragmatism,” she is best known for abstractions using material concepts such as burlap, bronze, crochet, spider webs, and gingham. Grounded in process and productivity, Grabner also combines her studio practice with tasks of writing, curating, and teaching. As David Norr wrote about her exhibition at MoCA, Cleveland, “Grabner’s activities are driven by distinctive values and ideas: working outside of dominant systems, working tirelessly, working across platforms and towards community.”
Artist, writer, and curator Michelle Grabner is based in Wisconsin and serves as the Crown Family Professor of Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has taught for twenty years. Grabner co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial and curated the 2016 Portland Biennial. She is co-artistic director for FRONT International – Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, set to launch in 2018. Her reviews are regularly published in X-tra and Artforum. She has had solo exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; INOVA, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Ulrich Museum, Wichita; and University Galleries, Illinois State University. Her artwork has been included in group shows at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate St. Ives, UK; and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland. With her husband, artist Brad Killam, she founded The Suburban in 1999 in Oak Park, Illinois. After 16 years in the Chicago vicinity, The Suburban began programming exhibitions in two storefronts located in Milwaukee Wisconsin. In 2009 Grabner and Killam opened The Poor Farm in rural Wisconsin, dedicated to annual historical and contemporary exhibitions, lectures, performances, publications, screenings and alternative free pedagogical programs.