Michelle Illuminato

2023-24 Art + Social Practice Program Coordinator 

M. Michelle Illuminato (she/her) creates events, public exchanges, and artworks that help to reveal the complicated and often contradictory relationship between people, their culture, and the land they live on. She works individually as well as with the collective, next question on projects that have been exhibited nationally as well as in Italy, Poland, Germany, and Serbia.

In 1982, Illuminato began working in the steel mill town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. Over the next several years she invited hundreds of artists to collaborate with each other, the towns people and the place. The project received, ‘Best Event in Pennsylvania’, the key to the city for Illuminato, as well as broke ground on new ways that socially-community-driven artworks could receive art funding. After visiting Aliquippa, curator Mary Jane Jacob included her in a year-long project, ‘Points of Entry’, funded by the Three Rivers Art Festival and included Group Material, Ann Carlson, Fred Wilson, Daniel Martinez. Recent work includes: Momentary Monuments for a Wednesday Afternoon, Portland,Tripoli Street BakeYard, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, Pittsburgh, and Lost & Found Factory, Pittsburgh and Denton, Texas, which received a national award from Americans for the Arts. With next question, she created, The Neighborhood Revisited, a trolley tour that used Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood tours as a way to better understand shifting city spaces.

For 2023-24, Illuminato will be the Coordinator of the Art + Social Practice Program and since 2016 has been the Head of the CORE Program at Portland State University. Deeply interested in alternative teaching practices, she received the Master Teaching Award from Foundations: Foundations: Art, Theory, and Education in 2017.