Shani Khoo Parsons (Canada/US, b.1970, Philadelphia) is an independent curator, designer, and founding director of Critical Distance Centre for Curators. With degrees in architecture (Temple University, Philadelphia, 1994) and graphic design (RISD, Providence, 2000) she has pursued a multidisciplinary, research-based practice within independent and institutional contexts including the American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Chinese in America, and the Museum of Modern Art (all NY). In the process she has produced an eclectic body of work ranging from intimate artist’s books to immersive exhibitions, bringing to each project her skills, experiences, and interests as researcher, writer, designer, artist, administrator, curator, and critic.
After moving to Toronto from New York, she became interested in creating a hybrid model for curating and exhibition-making, one that provides institutional support for independent curators at all stages in their professional development and advances best practices for curatorial production and publishing, as well as much-needed opportunities for community building, professional development, and critical discourse. Now in its seventh year, Critical Distance has established itself as a not-for-profit space and initiative devoted to the support and advancement of curatorial practice and inquiry in Toronto and beyond. With a focus on critically engaged, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary practices, underrepresented artists and art forms, and community outreach and education in art and exhibition-making, Critical Distance is an open platform for diverse curatorial practices and perspectives, and a vibrant and a forum for the exchange of ideas on curating as a way to connect, engage, and inform people and publics across cultures, disciplines, geographies, and generations.
Independent curatorial projects include solo/group exhibitions and site-responsive installations featuring local and international artists working in all media, experimental thematic moving image programs, art book fair presentations, and discursive event series. Research interests include transdisciplinary approaches to exhibition- and publication-making; cross-cultural dialogue and collaborative frameworks for thinking, making, and being; and new collectivities in the arts and society at large.
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