Todd J. Tubutis
Director of the Art Museum
Tubutis joins the Art Museum of WVU from his position as associate director of the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was responsible for overseeing administration, operations, and revenue-generating staff and services. As part of the museum’s leadership team, he collaborated on curating, developing, and implementing mission-driven exhibitions, programs, and outreach activities and advising on new acquisitions.
Tubutis was previously executive director of Blue Sky Gallery, a nonprofit venue in Portland, Oregon dedicated to the presentation of international contemporary photography. Prior to joining Blue Sky in 2009, Tubutis was exhibition project director at the Field Museum in Chicago, where he led the design and institutional strategy teams for more than 20 temporary and permanent exhibitions of varied scope and subject matter.
He has taught and conducted research in cultural and visual anthropology in the U.S., Canada and Hungary, and has contributed articles and reviews to Wisconsin Academy Review, Visual Anthropology, Exhibitionist, Exposure, Time Out Chicago and the Encyclopedia of Chicago.
Tubutis earned a master's degree in anthropology from the University of British Columbia. For his thesis, he examined Native American participation in Jim Jarmsuch's 1996 feature film "Dead Man." Tubutis received a bachelor's degree in anthropology and museum studies from Beloit College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with departmental honors.
Curator of the Art Museum
Robert Bridges, Curator of the Art Museum, earned his MFA in printmaking at WVU. Since 2000, he has organized exhibits in the Mesaros Galleries at the College of Creative Arts. Among them are the international exhibition “Ceramic Art from the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute” and two national exhibitions featuring the work of American Modernist Blanche Lazzell, a West Virginia native. Bridges is a co-editor of the book Blanche Lazzell, The Life and Work of an American Modernist (2004) from WVU Press. Previously, he was a curator in the private sector in Chicago.
Karen Louvar, Registrar, earned her MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of Louisville (2005), and BA in Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky (2003). She started her museum career with the National Park Service, which then launched her into an historic house museum niche for eight years. Originally from Ona, WV, Karen is happy to return to her home among the hills.
Michael Loop, Museum Preparator, earned his BFA in sculpture at WVU in 1998. Upon graduation Michael traveled around the United States assisting several artists, to include Albert Paley, Christopher Weed, Paul Knoblauch, and several other artists, honing a multi-faceted understanding of material and process. After a 12-year sabbatical from academia, Michael returned to WVU under the guidance of a fresh faculty to receive his MFA in sculpture in 2013. After receiving his degree, Michael worked as an adjunct lecturer between WVU and Fairmont State University teaching Foundations and Sculpture Art classes along with preparatory duties at the Mesaros Galleries for the Creative Art Center at WVU. With a growing personal exhibition record, Michael has shown his artwork in galleries and public art forums across the United States which has further aided his understanding of preparatory practices.
Educational Programs Manager
Heather Harris, Educational Programs Manager, has worked in arts education in a wide variety of contexts, both nationally and internationally. Her background is in drama education, and she holds an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University and a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Curriculum and Instruction. She became interested in the art museum context while conducting her doctoral research on the connections between schools and arts organizations. This led her to a position as the Education Coordinator at Krannert Art Museum in Champaign Illinois. There, Harris taught and administrated school programs, including a recurring week-long residency for 3rd-5th graders. At the Art Museum of West Virginia University, she works to forge robust partnerships with K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and the larger community through planning and implementing interactive programs and tours.
Liza L. KirkAbel
Liza L. KirkAbel, Facilities Manager, is a native of West Virginia and a graduate of Concord University with a BS degree in Recreation and Tourism Management and a Master of Arts degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Tourism Planning and Development. She has spent most of her career working in Housing & Residence Life at colleges and universities in West Virginia. Her passion for the park system and the outdoors led her to complete the SLET academy for the National Park Service and most recently to work for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Section, as a Park Superintendent in Southern West Virginia.
Andrea Eridani, Administrative Associate, joined the museum in October 2015. She earned her BA in Studio Art from Sweet Briar College, with a concentration in drawing, and completed an internship assisting the curator of a fine arts center in Lynchburg, Virginia. She has worked in administrative and customer support roles in healthcare at the University of Virginia and the WVU Research Corporation. Additionally, she volunteered for Piedmont Council for the Arts in Charlottesville from 2007-2008. As an artist, she has exhibited in Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia. She is thrilled to be working for the museum where she can bring her versatility and passion for the arts to WVU and the community.