Arts – On Wisconsin https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Photography vs. Segregation https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/exhibition/photography-vs-segregation/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/exhibition/photography-vs-segregation/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:48:04 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25659 In 2002, Gillian Laub ’97 made what would be the first of many trips to Mount Vernon, Georgia, to photograph the lives of teenagers in the South. What she discovered was an idyllic yet racially divided town struggling to confront longstanding issues of race and inequality.

For the next decade, Laub visually documented Mount Vernon and the surrounding Montgomery County. Her photographs of the region’s longstanding segregated proms were published in the New York Times Magazine in 2009. The photo essay, which sparked national outrage, led to integrated dances in the area.

Those photos and more, collectively titled Southern Rites, were on exhibit at the UW’s Chazen Museum of Art this past semester. Laub says that it took many months to curate and organize the exhibition. “The photographs, captions, and case objects are meant to take [audiences] on a decade-long journey,” she explains. “Unfortunately, this story is not an anomaly in this one town. There is segregation and racism all over our country. So I hope viewers can also reflect on what is going on in their own communities.”

This isn’t the first time Laub’s lens has candidly captured and chronicled individuals’ courage while simultaneously investigating cultural conflicts.

Her exhibit Common Ground (Israelis and Palestinians) explored the shared yet divided worlds of these two peoples, while her installation An American Life documented the intimacy and pain that can define family — in this case, Laub’s own family. And just recently, in 2018, the photographer captured Stacey Abrams’s run for Georgia governor — a race that garnered national attention.

Laub also returned to Mount Vernon one year after the town merged its segregated proms and directed and produced a documentary, also titled Southern Rites, along with John Legend and Lisa Heller ’90. The film, which explores racial tensions, premiered in Madison at Union South in April.

While Laub didn’t study photography at the UW, she says that taking art history and English literature classes had a “huge impact” on her future work.

“I learned I wasn’t good at writing, but my love of narrative storytelling influenced my visual art-making,” she says.

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They Came to Create at Tandem Press https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/exhibition/they-came-to-create-at-tandem-press/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/exhibition/they-came-to-create-at-tandem-press/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:48:04 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25728 Every few weeks, another one arrives: a visiting artist to create a new work at Tandem Press, UW–Madison’s fine-art print shop. Tandem is affiliated with the art department in the School of Education, and since 1987, it has brought nearly 100 artists to campus — to experiment, to create something new, and to work with graduate students. One of this spring’s notable visitors was Swoon, who made the mixed-media works below.

Untitled work

Swoon, born Caledonia Curry, came to fame as a street artist. In recent years she’s been featured in museum exhibits from New York to California and as far afield as Paris, London, and Tokyo. At Tandem, she created several prints, the most notable being the untitled work above, which Tandem director Paula Panczenko describes as a multilayered print — it involves lithography, screen printing, hand painting, and gold leaf.

Girl with Dappled Sunlight

The visiting-artist program has been one of Tandem’s pride points. Each artist creates one or more prints with the press. Sales of these limited editions (usually fewer than 30 prints) support the press. Prices for Swoon’s previous works range from hundreds to more than $20,000. Tandem works hang in museums around the country, but one print of each visiting-artist project remains at the UW, joining the collection of the Chazen Museum.

Sonia

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‘Writing Emotion’ at Hallmark https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/recognition/writing-emotion-at-hallmark/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/recognition/writing-emotion-at-hallmark/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:48:04 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25746

Jason Tracy

If you’ve been to a wedding, baby shower, funeral, or birthday party in the last 13 years, you’ve probably crossed paths with Melvina Young ’90, MS’92, PhDx’07. She’s a quiet party presence — she usually arrives hidden in an envelope — but Young’s voice always leaves a heartfelt impression on the guests of honor.

Young is a senior creative writer at Hallmark, where she says she writes much more than greeting cards. “I write emotion across formats that have deep, authentic resonance for people,” she says. “I write gift and children’s books, internet content, keepsake copy, women’s empowerment editorial, and for Hallmark’s community-support efforts. I believe in the company’s mission to touch every life in a meaningful way.”

Young’s work is infused with a sincere sense of compassion for people who are experiencing major milestones. She writes regularly for Hallmark’s Mahogany collection, aimed at African American consumers, and credits her ability to craft personal messages that resonate with diverse communities to both her personal background and her academic training. Young grew up in rural Lepanto, Arkansas, during segregation, and she enrolled at the UW in the late 1980s, an era when campus was roiling from a series of racial incidents. She participated in the student movement that resulted in a new Multicultural Student Center and an ethnic studies requirement for all undergraduates, among other diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“I went to campus and found a language for things that explained my lived experience and helped me formulate an identity built in strength,” she says. “Everything you encounter is what makes you.”

Young also found faculty mentors at the UW who encouraged her to transition from activist to academic, and she earned a master’s degree in African American studies and completed PhD coursework in women’s history and U.S. history. She then left Madison to become a college instructor and eventually landed in Kansas City, Missouri, where she decided to apply her skills in a different industry.

“In my scholarship and teaching, I focused on relationships from a broad socio-historical perspective because I felt if you could understand the root causes of certain injustices and relationships, then you could build connections and coalitions that would actually effect change,” she says. “I discovered at Hallmark, I could actually achieve a similar goal through words that touch people emotionally one to one.”

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Dance, Dance Revolutionary https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/dance-dance-revolutionary/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/dance-dance-revolutionary/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:34 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25527 “There are times when I believe ‘Bunny’ was born to dance,” said Cordelia Chew Hinkson of her daughter in a 1952 interview.

A year earlier, Bunny — as Mary Hinkson ’46, MS’47 was known to her family and close friends — had broken through the almost exclusively white world of modern dance when she earned a lead role with the Martha Graham Dance Company.

But if she was born to dance, she also learned — through her own effort and through her study at the UW. Between her youth and her debut with America’s leading modern dance troupe, Hinkson came to Madison, where she discovered the science of movement as well as some of the complicated realities of what it means to be black in America.

Hinkson was born to a storied African American family in Philadelphia on March 16, 1925. Her mother had been a public- school teacher, and her father, DeHaven Hinkson, was a prominent physician and the first African American to head a U.S. Army hospital. Hinkson’s aunt, Mary Saunders Patterson, was famed contralto Marian Anderson’s first music teacher.

A 17-year-old Hinkson arrived at the University of Wisconsin in February 1943. She chose the UW, in part, because it offered an extensive curriculum in physical education — the subject she aspired to teach. But Madison was far different from Philadelphia, and the transition wasn’t easy.

Although African Americans had matriculated at the UW since 1862, they were often excluded from white social events and faced ardent racism. An unwritten but widely acknowledged policy excluded African Americans from dormitories and most rooming houses. A 1942 survey conducted by the Daily Cardinal revealed that 95 percent of housemothers on the university’s list of approved rooming houses preferred not to rent rooms to black students. “Many Negro, and to a lesser degree Chinese and Jewish, students have been denied rooms that are vacant and have been forced into outlying districts or have been forced away from the university altogether,” the study noted.

Hinkson made arrangements to live off campus. Discriminatory housing policies coupled with the wartime economy — students were often displaced to accommodate military trainees — made securing campus housing nearly impossible. During her undergraduate years, Hinkson lived in the Groves Women’s Cooperative at 150 Langdon Street, where she shared a room with fellow dancer Matt Turney ’47. The interracial boarding house named for noted agricultural economics professor Harold Groves 1919, MA1920, PhD1927 brought together women from all over the world. Groves was Madison’s first women’s cooperative house, and it opened the year Hinkson arrived. Already well traveled, Hinkson likely thrived in the multicultural co-op, which provided vivid evidence that blacks could live with whites. Members worked together as part of a single household, cleaning floors and scrubbing toilets. Hinkson washed dishes and swept floors to defray the cost of lodging.

“World War II and its immediate aftermath led mid-century Americans to reconsider the nation’s democratic principles and the backdrop of unprecedented political, social, economic, and ideological changes,” Groves later recalled.

UW Dean of Women Louise Greeley wrote to President Clarence Dykstra in 1943: “We believe … that if a group of Negroes, Jews, and Gentiles such as this … can demonstrate ability to live successfully together, it will be worth trying.”

Hinkson dances in the Union Theater. Her experience with Margaret H’Doubler brought her to the attention of major dance troupes. UW Archives S16295

While at the university, Hinkson succeeded academically, earning mostly As and Bs, and she reveled in Madison’s robust dance scene, joining Orchesis, the UW’s modern dance troupe that had been founded in 1918. She studied English, French, history, zoology, and PE, and she impressed physical education professor Katherine Cronin with her “good mind and sincere attitude toward her work.” Hinkson soon changed her major to dance after taking a course with Margaret H’Doubler 1910, MA1924, and when she told her father of the change, he was reluctant but supportive. “If that’s what you want, go to it,” he said. And so she went: in 1945, she appeared in Orchesis’s production of Orpheus and Eurydice. The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper covered the performance, describing Hinkson and Turney as the group’s first “colored dancers.”

“[Mary] was in heaven,” her sister commented some years later.

Hinkson would long remember the remarkable teachers in the physical education department and courses with H’Doubler, a pioneer educator who had created the nation’s first academic program for the study of dance.

Though campus could be unwelcoming, Madison did attract African American artists and thinkers in the 1940s: anthropologist and choreographer Katherine Dunham and her dancers performed Tropical Revue at the Parkway Theater in 1944; Alain Locke was appointed visiting professor of philosophy in 1946; Pearl Primus and her “primitive modern dancers” appeared in 1948; and actor Paul Robeson was a regular feature at the Union Theater.

And Madison offered opportunities: it was at the UW that Hinkson was introduced to the Martha Graham Dance Company, which performed at the Union Theater in March 1946. H’Doubler had required her dance students to attend the show, and Hinkson said she was “completely blown away.”

Hinkson graduated in 1946 but continued with graduate courses. After a year of studies and writing a thesis, she earned a master’s degree and then became an instructor in the Department of Physical Education for Women — one of the first black women to teach at any majority-white university. Hinkson and three other students then formed the Wisconsin Dance Group, touring Toronto and across the Midwest in a 1933 Buick. The group included Turney, Miriam Cole ’46, and Sage Fuller Cowles ’47.

In 1951, Martha Graham asked Hinkson to perform a “demonstration” — a combination recital and audition. Graham then asked Hinkson to join her company, and by 1953, Hinkson held the title of principal dancer, starring in a production of Bluebeard’s Castle in New York. For 20 years, Hinkson was one of Graham’s leading dancers, and she also taught at the Juilliard School and at the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Hinkson may have found a challenging environment at the UW, but she left prepared for a key role in the world of dance. When she passed away on November 26, 2014, her obituary lauded her as “an influential teacher both in the United States and abroad,” “highly versatile,” and “one of Martha Graham’s most important leading dancers.”

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So Long to Nails’ Tales https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/so-long-to-nails-tales/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/so-long-to-nails-tales/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:33 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25925

Jeff Miller

Say farewell to Nails’ Tales, the sculpture that has stood outside Camp Randall since 2005. A new plan released in March indicates that the 50-foot-tall obelisk created by Donald Lipski will not remain at the stadium.

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A Purse for the Ages https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/a-purse-for-the-ages/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/a-purse-for-the-ages/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:33 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25703

Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection

This elegant purse was one piece in the original bequest of Professor Helen Louise Allen to form the textile teaching collection that — 50 years on — still bears her name and continues to inform students, researchers, and historians today. This piece has become a talisman for the collection’s golden anniversary, which the School of Human Ecology is celebrating this year. The purse is an example of an ancient art called zardozi, a distinctive metallic embroidery associated with India and the Middle East. Taken from the Persian words for gold (zar) and embroidery (dozi), zardozi is usually formed around natural motifs wrought in silver, gold, and copper wire or metallic threads accented with sequins, beads, pearls, semi-precious stones, and jewels.

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Warrington Colescott https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/first-person/warrington-colescott/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/first-person/warrington-colescott/#respond Tue, 26 Feb 2019 16:45:58 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25031

Warrington Colescott’s Sunday Service (2001) was included in the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Portfolio. Chazen Museum Of Art

“If death and eternal judgment can be comedy,” Warrington Colescott once said, “then nothing is beyond the comic imagination.” The pioneering printmaker and longtime UW art professor, who died in September 2018 at age 97, proved that statement true many times over. His satirical etchings earned national acclaim for their biting wit — ranging from critiques of society and politics to the purely playful and absurd. Themes of warfare permeated his works, a reflection of his upbringing as a son of a World War I soldier and his own army service in World War II. While his irreverence often reigned — “If you attack, do it with skill,” he advised — his narrative works could be deeply human and hopeful. “The terrain that really grips me,” he said, “is that black zone between tragedy and high comedy, where, with a little push one way or the other, you can transmute screams into laughter and where the rules are no rules.”

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Consummate Cinematographer https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/conversation/consummate-cinematographer/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/conversation/consummate-cinematographer/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:41:23 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24439 As an award-winning cinematographer, Peter Deming ’80 made his artistic mark in numerous films while collaborating with the likes of David Lynch, Sam Raimi, and Wes Craven. He recently returned to campus for a screening at UW Cinematheque, where On Wisconsin caught up with him to learn more about where he has been, what got him there, and what’s next.

Why did you choose to attend UW–Madison?

I was a Wisconsin kid. My father was transferred to Beirut [Lebanon] for his job, so my sister and I were both born there, but I primarily grew up in Racine. And if you’re going to go to a state university, Madison was always the choice. …. I had this Egyptian professor in communication arts. His name is Badia Rahman. He was fantastic — very encouraging! He was one of the first to photograph through a beam-splitter, which both transmits and reflects light equally. This enables photography of two live objects simultaneously, which is pretty much the beginning of modern visual effects.

What’s the best thing about cinematography?

It’s a job that is highly creative, highly collaborative, and artistic, but it’s also rooted in technology. It combines all the things needed to create specific worlds for viewers. There are times when you’re on set, and you’re exhausted or conditions are miserable, and that’s when you remind yourself that there aren’t many people who get to do what you do, which is essentially going out every day and spending someone else’s money to put your ideas on the screen.

You’ve worked with a variety of directors. Whom do you best collaborate with?

There is no better job in filmmaking than working with David Lynch. Every day is an adventure. While attending [the UW], I saw Eraserhead for the first time at the Majestic. I was sort of shell-shocked by it, and I’ve been fascinated with David ever since. It’s that experience where you follow someone over the years, whether it’s a filmmaker or musician, and you get to know their work so well that you feel like you know them. Once I got the opportunity to collaborate with David, I felt like I knew his preferences because I had seen everything he had ever done.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a film called Fonzo, which focuses on the last year of Al Capone’s life — his reckoning with his end of days, his life, and his family. … I am looking into directing at some point, but I have also seen what directors go through. It takes an incredible amount of time to get a project going. In my role as a cinematographer, I’m used to going into a job, and I’m in and out in three to six months — sometimes longer, if it’s a bigger film. However, when you direct, it’s two or three years, at least. So I’m weighing that whole part of it, too. I’m definitely looking around; let’s put it that way.

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Five Badger Standouts https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/five-badger-standouts/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/five-badger-standouts/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:15 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24416 With more than 440,000 living alumni and a top-tier reputation, UW–Madison has no shortage of exceptional graduates. Selecting the superlative among this crowd is no easy task, but the Wisconsin Alumni Association has offered Distinguished Alumni Awards annually since 1936. This year, WAA’s highest honor acknowledges five alumni who have made stellar contributions to their professions, their communities, and their alma mater.

Carol Edler Baumann ’54

As a former U.S. State Department staffer and board member for numerous diplomatic organizations, Carol Baumann built a network of professional relationships “that helped bring the world to Milwaukee,” according to a longtime colleague.

Baumann earned her doctorate from the London School of Economics and was a professor of political science at UW–Madison and UW–Milwaukee. In 1979, President Carter appointed her to serve as U.S. deputy assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

At UW–Milwaukee, she directed the international relations major for 17 years and the Institute of World Affairs for 33 years. Baumann built the institute into one of the best of its kind while continuing to teach and inspire students to pursue careers in international affairs and global business. She was the first host of the institute’s television program, International Focus, which is still broadcast on Milwaukee public TV. Baumann also hosted the Dialogues with Diplomats series, which drew ambassadors and other high-ranking officials from around the world, including President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

In 1958 she ran for Congress in Wisconsin’s Ninth Congressional District. Her extensive professional affiliations included the Council on Foreign Relations, the Wisconsin Governor’s Commission on the United Nations, and the National Foreign Policy Association.

Baumann helped facilitate cross-participation in international programming between the Milwaukee and Madison campuses, and she helped to forge a connection between the European Union and the international studies programs at UW–Madison. She retired in 1995 as a UW–Milwaukee professor emerita. Baumann published a novel, Journeys of the Mind, based on her travels and career.

John Bollinger ’57, PhD’61

As dean of the College of Engineering (CoE) from 1981 to 1999, John Bollinger presided over the creation of a familiar college landmark — the Maquina sculpture and fountain on Engineering Mall.

It was just one element of the $16 million CoE expansion to Engineering Hall in 1993. Bollinger’s 18-year tenure as dean also saw many other innovations, including a renovation of the materials science building and a new freshman course that assigned a real-world engineering project from design to final product. The college also instituted several annual competitions that encourage students to invent, patent, and commercialize their own technology. After retiring as dean, he created a new course, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Bollinger served as director of the Data Acquisition and Simulation Laboratory and as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering before becoming dean. He was a Fulbright Fellow in 1962 and 1980 and he coauthored two textbooks. Among his many patents, he invented a noise-quality detector for electric motors and an automated welder that helped Milwaukee’s A. O. Smith Company in manufacturing automobile frames. He founded and served as editor of the Journal of Manufacturing Systems.

He has served on the board of numerous companies, including Nicolet Instrument Corporation, Unico Incorporated, Kohler Company, and Berbee Information Networks. Bollinger is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Society for Engineering Education.

A Bascom Hill Society member, he has also generously supported the college financially. In honor of his parents, he established the UW’s Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award.

He also established several engineering student scholarships.

George Hamel Jr. ’80

When the California wildfires swept through wine country last fall, George and Pam Hamel, co-owners of Hamel Family Wines in the Sonoma Valley, sprang into action. They quickly organized and hosted a benefit with singer John Fogerty in support of wine country wildfire relief, raising more than $1.2 million. For the Hamels, who lost their own home in the fire, it was a typical act of generosity.

The Hamel family, which includes three generations of UW–Madison alumni (and a Badger alum daughter-in-law), has been extraordinarily generous across the campus. They provided the $15 million lead gift for the new Hamel Music Center on campus, as well as the founding gift for SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. They have been longtime supporters of the communication arts department and have provided major gifts to the Department of Athletics, the Garding Against Cancer initiative, the Office of Student Financial Aid, the Memorial Union, and several other UW programs.

Before becoming a vintner, George was a founder and served as COO of ValueAct Capital, a San Francisco–based investment firm.

For the Van Hise Society member, his support of the university has extended to giving generously of his time and advice. He serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board, the Communication Arts Partners, and the Garding Against Cancer steering committee, and he previously served on the UW Foundation board of directors and the College of Letters & Science board of visitors.

Ann McKee ’75

Ann McKee has studied hundreds of individuals diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and is the leading researcher on the degenerative brain disease. CTE is triggered by repetitive blows to the head and is most commonly found in athletes participating in boxing, football, ice hockey, and other contact sports, as well as military veterans. CTE causes symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression, memory loss, aggression, and suicidal behavior. McKee was lead author on a 2017 study that found that CTE had been diagnosed in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research.

She has presented her findings to NFL officials and testified many times before Congress. Her research was highlighted on the Frontline special “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” as well as in the New York Times, TIME, Sports Illustrated, the Boston Globe, CBS’s 60 Minutes, CNN, NPR, and other outlets.

McKee is a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University School of Medicine and directs its CTE Center. She’s also the director of the brain banks at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and the Framingham Heart Study.

Her game-changing findings continue to make headlines. Her data show that it’s actually repetitive small blows to the head, rather than big, concussion-inducing hits, that have the strongest link to CTE — and that has the potential to drastically change the game of football as we know it today.

In 2018, she received a lifetime achievement award for Alzheimer’s disease research from the Alzheimer’s Association, and she was named by TIME magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Allan Chi Yun Wong MS’73

Allan Chi Yun Wong is the founder, chair, and group CEO of the Hong Kong–based company VTech, one of the top 50 electronics manufacturers globally, with more than $1.8 billion in revenue.

After a brief stint at National Cash Register Company, Wong started VTech in 1976 as an electronics company that designed and manufactured home-gaming consoles, including Pong (an early video game based on table tennis).

In its first year, the company expanded from an initial investment of $40,000 to an annual revenue of just under $1 million. Under Wong’s direction, the company later focused on producing children’s learning products and cordless phones. In 1998, Business Week included him on its “World’s Top 25 Executives” list.

Wong serves on the board of China-Hongkong Photo Products Holdings Limited and Li and Fung Limited, and he’s also the deputy chairman and director of the Bank of East Asia, the third largest bank in Hong Kong. His government honored him with the Gold Bauhinia Star in 2008, and the United Kingdom gave him its Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award in 1997. He has an honorary doctorate from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and he served as a keynote speaker at the March 2017 Hong Kong chapter UW alumni event.

In 2016, Wong told CNN, “You don’t go into business to make money. You need to love your business, and you need to have passion, and you need to really want to make a difference in people’s lives. And making money is a byproduct, not the sole purpose.”

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Wheelhouse Studios https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/traditions/wheelhouse-studios/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/traditions/wheelhouse-studios/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24423 What started four years ago as a small experiment meant to encourage the campus community to tap into its creativity has expanded tenfold into a hub for the skilled and newcomers alike to come together and make art. Wheelhouse Studios’ monthly Free Art Fridays draw between 300 and 400 people, and on the weekends it’s getting difficult to find an open pottery wheel.

“We exceeded all of our expectations, so organizationally, we’re figuring out what the sustainability plan is,” says recently retired director Jay Ekleberry ’77, MS’83. “How do we keep this going? How do we keep things fresh and new?”

Open 70 hours a week on the lower level of Memorial Union, Wheelhouse is available to students and union members and offers spaces dedicated to ceramic, 3D, and 2D art. The open-studio aspect is what sets the program apart, Ekleberry says. With other art spaces in Madison, “you can’t just waltz into your ceramics studio anytime between your class sessions and practice or work on a project.”

That time to pursue artistic passions was what inspired Wheelhouse’s predecessor, the Craftshop, which opened in 1930 after student Sally Owen Marshall ’30 used her senior thesis to petition for an art space on campus. It closed in 2012 for renovations to the union and Wheelhouse opened in 2014.

Close to 2,000 students and community members enroll in Wheelhouse classes during the year, and the studio attracts additional visitors when it hosts events to encourage conversation about contemporary issues. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the campus community was invited to drop in and create mixed-media collages representing their favorite quote from King. Wheelhouse has also hosted painting workshops to reinforce positive messages about body image.

“When you’re just sitting and talking when you’re working on an art project, the dialogue becomes deeper,” Ekleberry says. “It’s a whole different conversation because you’re engaged in this activity that’s activating the whole brain, forcing you to be creative. You have an instant common ground.”

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