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By Mica Pollock

Published in: Boston Globe on Feb 11, 2021

Estera Milman

Estera Milman, art historian, curator, and researcher of the avant-garde, died January 27, 2021 in Boston. Milman earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and MFA at the University of Iowa (UI) in Photography/Photomedia, Historical Criticism and Theory. She then founded Alternative Traditions in the Contemporary Arts (ATCA) at UI in 1982, while also curating at the Stanley Museum of Art and teaching in the School of Art and Art History. Housed in the UI Library, Special Collections, ATCA is a repository dedicated to collecting, interpreting, and exhibiting groundbreaking, cutting-edge art after WWII Individual ATCA Collections. Under Milman’s lead, ATCA created an intellectual and institutional space to grapple with the challenging ideas of artists often considered outside of the “mainstream” of popularly celebrated art. At a time when few museums were ready to show—let alone collect—ephemera, performance relics, artifacts, and related artist papers, Milman dedicated her professional career to establishing the institutional framework to support art that challenges the market, dares to expand our sensibilities, and demands a just world. She was deeply committed to ideals of human equality and to art as a political mechanism for challenging complacency and elitism. She published widely, received numerous NEA and NEH grants and awards, and innovated using the internet and gallery space, pushing the parameters of what museums could become milman-interarts.

Milman leaves two loving daughters, Mica Pollock and Nira Pollock, and their families, plus the families of Carlyn and Michael Foster, children of second husband Stephen Foster. Her sisters, Isa Milman and Sepora Jacobson, and their children, all mourn her loss.

A memorial service will be held this summer.

Born post-Holocaust in a displaced persons camp, Milman entered the U.S. as a refugee toddler in 1950 and remained a fierce supporter of human rights. The family invites contributions in her name to
a) support humane immigration policy work at Alliance San Diego or
b) support refugee legal assistance, which supported Milman’s own entry.

PRODUCTIONS by Estera Milman:

Notes on the aestehtics of doom 1995
Boris Lurie: Knives in Cement and Other Selected Constructions, exhibition, Iowa City 1999
Knives in Cement and other selected constructions by Boris Lurie 1999
ONE-on-ONE, Dialogue with Boris Lurie, video, New York 2000
"NO!art" and the aesthetics of doom 2001
NO!art and the aesthetics of doom, exhibition, Evanston 2001
NO!art and the aesthetics of doom, exhibition, Iowa City 2002
Pop, junk culture, assemblage, and the new vulgarians 2004

Reviews on Estera Milman:

Brendan Wolfe: Is the UI trying to censor this woman? 2000

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