Mara Baldwin is an artist whose drawing, textile, and installation-based practice explores the liminal space between real and imagined narratives from utopian literature, folk tales, ghost stories, and pulp paperback science fiction. She received her MFA from the California College of the Arts (2010) and her BFA from Wesleyan University (2006). A practicing artist, her work has shown at the Johnson Art Museum (Cornell University), Facebook Manhattan, PLAySPACE, the San Francisco Arts Commission, SOMArts, UC Berkeley, Triple Base Gallery, Root Division, and Capricious/Company Gallery. Her accolades include the Murphy Cadogan Award, an SFMoMA SECA nomination, and residencies with the Vermont Studio Center, Saltonstall Foundation, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York, and has worked at Ithaca College since 2011 as Assistant Director (2011-12), Acting Director (2012-13), and Director (2013-present). Special interests include close examination of historical spaces, emotional politics, and longings of women; feminism/s; popular art; labor rights and resistance; intersectionality; and queer culture. Through her studio practice and professional career as a gallery director, Baldwin examines the place of art and museums within conversations about authenticity, community, education, accessibility, and inclusivity.
In her directorial role, Baldwin oversees the Handwerker Gallery's ambitious exhibition and programming calendars, and maintains the Ithaca College Permanent Collection. In tandem with other curricular and campus life initiatives on campus, Baldwin has transformed the gallery into a hub of conversation and collaboration between artists, curators, faculty, and students, always with art at the center. Under her leadership exhibitions during each academic calendar are curated around annual themes, examined through multiple perspectives: Collections/Collectors/Collecting (2014-15), Utopia/Dystopia (2015-16), The Four Humours (2016-17), and Shapes of Time (2017-18). In 2013, Baldwin steered the Handwerker Gallery into compliance with W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), putting Ithaca College at the forefront of artist labor rights. With the support of the Handwerker Steering Committee (established 2013), and newly-formed Alumni Advocacy Board (established 2016) Baldwin is currently drafting a new strategic plan for the Handwerker Gallery and the place of the visual arts at Ithaca College, to be unveiled in Fall 2017 to coincide with the gallery's 40th Anniversary. Baldwin serves the greater campus through multiple capacities: as a member of the Discussion Series Committee for the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (2013-2016), the Women and Gender Studies Program Steering Committee, and as a Dorm Mentor for undergraduate housing.