2020-2021 Luce Scholar

Abigail Lahnert is an artist and curator invested in nuanced storytelling that encourages us to think imaginatively and poetically. A graduate of Willamette University, they earned dual degrees in anthropology (with a focus on positionality and American Sign Language) and studio art (doing installation work exploring texts). In 2015, Abigail was awarded a Learning by Creating grant to research swing dance communities in Oregon, where they learned how to dance as well as how dance brings meaning to peoples’ lives. Abigail completed a Carson Grant in 2016, traveling across the country studying what was to become their biggest passion: odd museums. From the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles to Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri, these small museums and their makers inspired Abigail by demonstrating how the idea of “museum” can be used to complicate how we determine what has cultural value.

In 2017, continuing this fascination with collections and collecting, Abigail completed, on a Willamette Presidential Scholarship, an eight-month daily drawing project, Elusive Archive, in which they worked to understand how much of a person’s life could really be documented, and how that documentation communicated what was valued. After graduating with honors in 2018, Abigail set to work founding the Museum of Reinterpretation, an educational institution in Golden, Colorado that uses curation as a tool for building genuine human relationships by developing connections between ideas. With a team of local artists, researchers, and community members, the museum produces exhibits and events throughout the state.

Aside from their work with the museum, Abigail has shown work as an artist at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the American Mountaineering Museum, and Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, among others, as well as in the publication Emergency Index. Abigail’s practice is largely interdisciplinary, working with large-scale drawings, weaving, printmaking, and writing. In partnership with Lighthouse, in response to a gap in the organization’s programming, Abigail formed the group Queer Creatives where queer writers meet monthly to share space and stories. As a queer, nonbinary maker, liminality and fluidly are key parts of all the work they do, whether in community building or art making.