100 Colorado Creatives: Nora Burnett Abrams

Nora Burnett Abrams at an MCA public program with artist Dario Robleto.
#6: Nora Burnett Abrams

Nora Burnett Abrams makes exhibits happen, and that's not easy: As curator at MCA Denver, she can't just pick up artists at a supermarket. Instead, it's about developing a relationship -- with a little detective work on the side -- and getting inside each artist's head to figure out what's going on in the work. All of which she does beautifully, bringing a rich variety of artists, both local and from around the world, to show Denver museum-goers where art's going in the 21st century, while also providing an informational backdrop for what they see. It's no small accomplishment, and Abrams is the perfect complement to MCA's participatory, highbrow-for-the-people museum model.

We invited Abrams to share her curator's point of view in the 100CC questionnaire; read on for the whole story.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Nikki Pike

Burnett at work at MCA, collaborating on an Allison Smith sculpture.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be and why?

At the moment, I would say Diana Nyad. She embodies the values of determination, ambition, focus, discipline and courage that I so admire in artists. The sheer scope of what she accomplished in swimming from Cuba to Florida -- after so many failed attempts and near-death moments -- sets a bar for boldness and great vision. She is a huge risk-taker, like so many wonderful artists of the past and the present, and to collaborate with that kind of a visionary would be supremely rewarding. 

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

I recently met with the artist Toba Khedoori and find her drawings and paintings to be hauntingly beautiful. Her works are figurative, but she tends to isolate the imagery -- a hole or a log or a fireplace -- on a large monochromatic background so that we are keenly aware of how this is a fabrication or illusion. But, because they are so realistic, you're constantly torn between being seduced and rationally knowing it's a ruse.

I think Roy McMakin's furniture/sculpture works are incredibly clever and beautiful. I love that they never resolve into being purely functional or decorative; they're unequivocally both. I also think Sarah Baie, MCA's director of programs, has the sharpest creative voice and sense of humor, which continually inspire me. Lastly, I think my two-year old son is pretty cute. 

Continue reading for more from Nora Burnett Abrams.

Location Info


MCA Denver

1485 Delgany St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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