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BAM/PFA Appoints New Curator for the Matrix Program for Contemporary Art (December 8, 2006)

Berkeley, CA, December 8, 2006 — The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Elizabeth Thomas as the curator for the MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art. Thomas will begin at BAM/PFA on February 1, 2007.

Thomas comes to BAM/PFA from the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, where she was assistant curator and then associate curator of contemporary art from 2001 – 2005. There she curated the museum's series of Forum exhibitions in addition to assisting in organizing the 2004 – 05 Carnegie International exhibition. Prior to working at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Thomas was a curatorial fellow at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN. Most recently Thomas has worked as an independent curator on projects including The "F" Word (2006), an exhibition about personal feminisms, at The Andy Warhol Museum; Empathetic (2006) an exhibition exploring the political, social, and personal dimensions of empathy, at the Tyler School of Art; and The Believers, co-curated with Nato Thompson, an exhibition that will open at MassMoCA, North Adams, MA, in April 2007.

"I am delighted to be joining BAM/PFA as curator for a contemporary art program with such an important and influential history," says Thomas. "As a curator, my passion is for working with living artists, and contributing to the making of culture by facilitating the production of new work. The MATRIX program at BAM/PFA has a legacy of supporting the most progressive and timely of contemporary practices, and, within the added context of the university community, offers a unique opportunity to truly explore these ideas to their full potential."

"The great tradition of the MATRIX Program, now approaching its thirtieth anniversary, is its commitment to fresh thinking, exciting new art, and non-traditional perspectives," says Lucinda Barnes, deputy director for programs and collections. "Liz Thomas's adventurous approach, keen sensibilities, and insight into the latest contemporary art and ideas are a perfect match for the MATRIX program, particularly as we plan for a dynamic new building and era of programming. We are delighted to have Liz join BAM/PFA."

Thomas did her graduate work in modern and contemporary art history, theory, and criticism at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999, and received her BA in anthropology and art history from The George Washington University, Washington, DC. In addition to her curatorial practice, Thomas has written articles and reviews for periodicals and catalogues and served as a panelist and juror for a wide range of art awards and exhibitions. In 1999, she co-founded TENbyTEN Magazine, an arts and culture publication based in Chicago.


About the MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art

The MATRIX Program for Contemporary art is an ongoing exhibition program created as a showcase for new developments in contemporary art. MATRIX was first introduced at BAM/PFA in 1978 as a spontaneous and flexible exhibition program that gave audiences access to "cutting edge" art — the newest ideas and the most experimental of media, presented in a series of small-scale exhibitions that could be organized on short notice and for relatively low expense.

In more than 200 exhibitions spanning nearly thirty years, MATRIX has featured an extraordinary range of local, national, and international artists. Many MATRIX exhibitions have featured artists in their first museum exhibition in the U.S., while others have included work that was experimental or inappropriate for commercial galleries. MATRIX artists have included James Lee Byars, Jay DeFeo, Robert Irwin, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Brown, Joseph Cornell, Jess, Brian Eno, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Nancy Spero, Nan Goldin, Barbara Kruger, David Ireland, Richard Misrach, Adrian Piper, Ed Ruscha, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Cindy Sherman, Richard Tuttle, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Peter Doig, Shirin Neshat, Jun Ngyuen-Hatsushiba, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and Haim Steinbach. Curators for MATRIX have been Michael Auping, Constance Lewallen, Larry Rinder, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, and Chris Gilbert.

In February 1998, MATRIX received a $2 million endowment gift from Bay Area philanthropist Phyllis Wattis, a UC Berkeley alumna and long-time supporter of the MATRIX program.


About BAM/PFA

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, Bay Area community, and beyond. BAM/PFA is one of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance, presenting fifteen art exhibitions and five hundred film programs each year. The museum's collection of more than 15,000 works includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, and Mark Rothko, as well as historical and contemporary Asian art, early American painting, Conceptual and contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The PFA film and video collection now includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silents, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.