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conversation series

Design Consciousness, Identity, and Process with Stephen Burks and Eric Shiner

May 8 @ 6:30 pm 8:00 pm

Join us for an inspiring conversation with Chicago native Stephen Burks, an industrial designer, product development consultant, and educator renowned for his innovative approach to design. Burks’s work synthesizes craft, community, and industry, challenging conventional notions of design and advocating for a more inclusive and diverse design landscape.

Moderated by Eric Shiner, President of Powerhouse Arts, this discussion will delve into Burks’ insights and experiences, exploring topics such as the power of hands in design, the “development triangle” approach to collaboration, and the role of design in addressing social issues.

Together, Burks and Shiner will discuss Burks’ recent projects, including his solo exhibition “Shelter in Place” and his new body of work titled “Ancestors,” which pays homage to the lineage of African Americans who played a pivotal role in the struggle for liberation. Fabricated during a six-month ceramics design fellowship at Powerhouse Arts in Brooklyn, Ancestors (Guardian) stands some six-feet tall as both a boundary and a threshold, establishing connection across several domains: past and present, handmade and automated, figurative and abstract, sculptural and utilitarian.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Doors at 6pm
6:30pm – 8pm
Small Hall
FREE with RSVP (limited capacity)


Stephen Burks

Chicago native Stephen Burks is an industrial designer, product development consultant, and educator whose innovative approach to design synthesizes craft, community, and industry. 

Independently and through association with various non-profits, he has collaborated with artisans and craftspeople in over ten countries on six continents. His socially engaged practice seeks to broaden the limits of design consciousness by challenging who benefits from and participates in contemporary design. Stephen and his studio, Stephen Burks Man Made, have been commissioned by many of the world’s leading design-driven brands to develop collections that engage hand production as a strategy for innovation to express a more pluralistic vision of design. In the fall of last year, Stephen was Powerhouse Art’s inaugural ceramics design fellow. During his six months in residence, he experimented with clay at various scales in the development of a new body of work titled “Ancestors” which premiered in “The New Transcendece” a group exhibition curated by Glenn Adamson for Friedman Benda gallery in New York. 

Eric Shiner

Eric Shiner is the President of Powerhouse Arts. He was formerly the executive director of Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. He has also served as artistic director of White Cube, New York and was Senior Vice President of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s. Prior to this, Shiner was the director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh from 2010 to 2016, and was the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Warhol from 2008 to 2010.  

A leading scholar on Andy Warhol and Asian contemporary art, Shiner lived and worked in Japan for six years and was assistant curator on the inaugural Yokohama Triennale in 2001. 

Shiner has curated dozens of contemporary art exhibitions in cities around the globe and was the team leader on The Warhol Museum’s major Warhol retrospective that traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo between 2012 and 2014. Notable exhibitions include Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei in 2015/16, Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After in 2012, Armory Focus: USA at the Armory Show in 2013 and Armory Platform in 2017. 

He is the immediate past President of the board of Visual AIDS, a NYC-based nonprofit promoting the artistic legacy of those artists lost to and living with AIDS, and a board member of The Romare Bearden Foundation and Art at a Time Like This. He lives in NYC and upstate New York with his partner, Dr. Ishaan Kumar, and their long-haired dachshund, Juno.