Speaker: Sean Ulmer 

In 1924, David Turner offered his friend Grant Wood the use of a hayloft space above a carriage house to use as a studio.  Wood leapt at the idea.  Initially using the space solely as a studio, Wood determined that with a few alterations, he could transform the studio into both a home and studio, which he did moving in the following year in 1925.  Wood lived and worked in the small 975 square foot space for the next ten years, accompanied by his mother, and sometimes housing his sister as well.  Beyond the changes he made to the studio to transform it into a home, the space itself was transformational for Wood and his career.  This paper introduces the changes Wood made to the hayloft as well as explores how having the studio itself changed his career. 


Sean Ulmer is the Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, owners and operators of the Grant Wood Studio.  Prior to becoming Executive Director in 2014, he served as the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the CRMA for nine years.  He has more than twenty-five years of curatorial experience, including organizing over 120 exhibitions and acquiring numerous works of art. He is also responsible for several exhibition catalogues.  Prior to his position at CRMA, he was Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art from 2001 to 2005.  Before that, he was at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, where he had a broad curatorial portfolio as Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture.  His five years at Cornell were preceded by his position as Exhibitions Coordinator at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts.  Ulmer received a B.A. in Art History from the University of Toledo/Toledo Museum of Art and a M.A. in Art History from The Ohio State University.