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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary Announce New Leadership Hires

collage of new staff members
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is closed today, Monday, January 30 due to inclement weather. Any programs, tours, lectures or classes will not be held. If you are a ticket holder for a tour or an event today, we’ll contact you about rescheduling.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary announces the appointments of Argeo Ascani, programmer of music and festivals, the Momentary; Ayanna Bledsoe, director of inclusion and belonging; Roland Liwag, digital media director; and Polly Nordstrand, curator, Native American art.

“As we enter Crystal Bridges’ second decade, each of these roles is essential to pursuing the institution’s vision and bringing great experiences to our visitors across our two locations,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer. “We are so glad to welcome Argeo, Ayanna, Roland, and Polly to the team and to have their impressive skillsets and knowledge at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary.”

Argeo Ascani, programmer of music and festivals, joined the Momentary team this August. In this role, they will plan and execute concerts and multidisciplinary performances, festivals, residencies, commissions, sound installations, workshops, and more at the Momentary. Formerly, Ascani served as a curator at EMPAC–the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., where they worked with a range of artists including Pauline Oliveros, John Zorn, Tim Hecker, Oneohtrix Point Never, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Tyshawn Sorey. As an educator, Ascani has lectured in over a dozen countries, taught in the music history and contemporary performance practice departments at the Manhattan School of Music, and led workshops with professors from Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. Ascani holds a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

Ayanna Bledsoe, director of inclusion and belonging, is joining the team to advance the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts both internally and externally at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary, including developing annual DEI strategies and implementing institutional inclusion policies. She will also serve on the museum’s Strategy team which oversees the museum’s vision and initiatives. Her prior professional experience includes roles in both student and academic affairs at universities including Purdue University, Oregon State University, and San Jose State University. Bledsoe received a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and Spanish literature from California State University-Dominguez Hills.

Roland Liwag, digital media director, joined the Communications team this September to lead the museum’s digital media department, overseeing the development, implementation, and management of the museum’s digital communications tools, including websites for Crystal Bridges and the Momentary. Liwag’s background includes digital media roles in higher education, Division I college athletics, and the non-profit arts. Most recently he helped develop and implement digital marketing and communications strategies for two major capital projects in Northwest Arkansas: The renovation of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the construction of TheatreSquared’s new, award-winning, 50,000-square-foot campus in downtown Fayetteville. A graduate of the University of Florida, he holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a concentration in online media.

Polly Nordstrand, curator, Native American art, is Crystal Bridges’ first curator of Native American art and brings to the role more than 20 years of museum experience and expertise in Native American art and history. Nordstrand joins the Crystal Bridges Curatorial team to help build relationships with Native nations, develop the Native American art collection and program, and provide vision for Native art at Crystal Bridges and beyond. Prior to joining Crystal Bridges, Nordstrand served as curator of Southwest art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College where she produced a diverse exhibition schedule including solo shows by Baseera Khan, Nora Naranjo Morse, Christine Howard Sandoval, and Anna Tsouhlarakis. She has taught at University of Colorado, Denver, Cornell University, and University of Denver, and previously, she was associate curator of Native arts at the Denver Art Museum where she led a contemporary Native art acquisitions project adding works by Jeffrey Gibson, James Luna, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith to the collection. Nordstrand has also worked as a curator for the National Park Service. She has completed graduate studies in Indigenous art history at Cornell University and holds a master’s degree in exhibition planning and design from California State University-Fullerton and a bachelor’s degree in design from Stanford University.

 

About Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Since opening in 2011, the museum has welcomed some 5.6 million visitors to the museum, with no cost for admission. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 as a non-profit charitable organization by philanthropist and chair of the museum’s board of directors, Alice Walton. The collection spans five centuries of American masterworks from early American to current day and is enhanced by temporary exhibitions. The museum is nestled on 120 acres of Ozark landscape and was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A rare Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house was preserved and relocated to the museum grounds in 2015. Crystal Bridges offers public programs including lectures, performances, classes, and teacher development opportunities. Some 300,000 school children have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. Additional museum amenities include a restaurant, gift store, library, and over 5 miles of art and walking/biking trails. In February 2020, the museum opened a satellite contemporary art space, the Momentary, in downtown Bentonville (507 SE E Street). For more information, visit CrystalBridges.org. The museum is located at 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712.

 

About the Momentary
The Momentary is a new contemporary art space in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, for visual, performing, and culinary arts. The mission of the Momentary is to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life and explore the unfolding story of contemporary American arts in an international context by actively commissioning and exhibiting outstanding works that explore new ideas and inspire action. The Momentary was founded by the Walton family, based on the vision of Tom, Olivia, and Steuart Walton. The Walton Family Foundation is supporting this project as a way to enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas. The Momentary is a satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by Alice Walton. The Momentary welcomes all with free general admission. Additional offerings include an artist-in-residence program, culinary experiences including an Onyx Coffee Lab, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, an outdoor festival space, and a gift store. For more information, visit theMomentary.org. The Momentary is located at 507 SE E Street, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712. The Momentary’s Founding Funders are Walton Family Foundation, Walmart, RØDE Microphones, The Coca-Cola Company, Tyson Family Foundation, and Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.