College of Art and Design Names Russell Endowed Chairs

The LSU College of Art and Design is pleased to announce the appointment of its Nadine Carter Russell Endowed Chairs for 2009-2010. Seth McDowell, a recent graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, is the Russell Chair in architecture. Minneapolis-based photographer Alec Soth has been named the Russell Chair in art.

“We are proud to have such talented professionals joining our faculty this year,” said Dean David Cronrath of the College of Art and Design. “Seth McDowell and Alec Soth bring fresh creativity and insight to their respective programs. They will enrich the College with their creativity and enthusiasm.”

McDowell recently completed his Master’s in Architecture at Columbia, where his research and interests centered on emerging technologies associated with communications, energy and fuel. He believes that the combination can aid in the reinvention of infrastructure so that the built environment supports a healthier condition of life. Given that Louisiana and the entire Mississippi River Basin are in extremely fragile ecological conditions, McDowell believes LSU is in a prime position to aid in the development of sustainable yet inventive solutions.

“I feel that my Russell Chair appointment can provide a great opportunity for me to further my research involving the complex interconnections between architecture, technology, infrastructure and the human condition,” McDowell said. “During my appointment at LSU I hope to push an agenda that recalls the social and environmental manifestos of the 1960s, where architects and designers worked to solve or exploit global concerns through architectural expression.”

Soth is an experienced photographer, who has exhibited internationally and received several major fellowships, including the Bush, McKnight and Jerome Foundations. He was awarded the 2003 Santa Fe Prize for photography and is represented in major public and private collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Soth’s first monograph, Sleeping by the Mississippi, was published in 2004 to critical acclaim. He has since published several others.

Over the past few years, he has become inspired by the educational process and has served as a visiting artist/lecturer at more than 30 colleges and universities, including the Rhode Island School of Design, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and the Universities of Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, New Mexico and Northern Iowa. He is excited about bringing his informed perspective to students in the LSU School of Art.

“I hope to be able to bring an understanding of the realities of the art world to the passionate arena of education,” Soth said.