Raino Isto is a public historian, arts educator, and curator currently based in New York City. They are currently editor-in-chief at ARTMargins Online, and a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute. In 2021, they were a fellow at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Art Studies in Tirana, Albania, and before that an ACLS Leading Edge Fellow at the Educational Video Center in NYC. Previously, Raino was the arts education coordinator at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association in Roseburg, OR (in 2020), and a doctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (in 2018-19).
Raino received their PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park, where their dissertation focused on the development of monumental sculpture in postwar Southeastern Europe, and the continuing resonance of socialist monumentality evident in the work of contemporary artists responding to the recent past. From 2016 to 2018 Raino was coordinator and curator at the Stamp Gallery, University of Maryland’s premier contemporary art space. They are currently at work on a book about realism, engaged art, the global Cold War in postwar Albania. They recently curated the retrospective exhibition Pleurad Xhafa: Irreconcilability as an Act of Love at ZETA Contemporary Art Center, and they are currently a researcher on an editorial and exhibition project on the “Linda” organization, the first collective of women artists in post-socialist Albania.
Other writing projects in process or recently completed address American depictions of race in encounters with interwar Yugoslavia, images of the working classes in the context of postsocialist neoliberalism, and the transformation of science fiction and fantasy illustration between the 1960s and the 1990s. Their work has been published in the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art; Third Text; Science Fiction Studies; Extrapolation; Open Philosophy; the International Journal for History, Culture, and Modernity; International Labor and Working-Class History; RACAR; ARTMargins; and The Getty Research Journal. Raino also has published several catalog essays on Albanian postwar art, and worked as a consultant on a municipal public art plan for Tirana. They are a founding member of the Laboratory for Albanian Art and Culture (LACA).
This website has been many things over the decades: a blog, an archival repository of historical publications and documents, and a personal website outlining Raino’s publications and activities. To read blog posts and pieces of art criticism, please go to “Posts.” For academic and popular press writings, and curatorial work, see “Publications and Projects.”