When the design team was tasked with developing the identity for Color Rush: 75 Years of Color Photography in America, a comprehensive exhibition charting the history of color photography in the United States from 1907 to 1981 and including nearly 200 objects, we knew we had our work cut out for us. The work in Color Rush is robust, ranging from early experimentation to oversaturated mid-century advertisements to the conceptual thrust of the late 1970s. We wondered, how would we create a strong typographical mark that would encompass and speak for such a full and varied exhibition?
Author: Milwaukee Art Museum
Let’s begin with three seemingly disparate thoughts.
One: Since I started working here at the Museum as the Team Coordinator for the Kohl’s Color Wheels art education outreach program in August, I have seen over 25,000 people while out in the community. As you can imagine, the idea of the accessibility of art has definitely been on my mind.
Two: As part of the Museum community, last month, I had the chance to see two lectures in one day: one on the German potter Grete Marks, given by Mel Buchanan, the Assistant Curator of 20th Century Design at the Museum; the other about the creative process at Pixar Animation Studios, given by Dan Holland, a sketch artist there. It made my day.
Three: I also teach freshmen at MIAD. One of my classes focuses on discussing the philosophical and practical underpinnings of these young artists’ budding visual practices. The other day my students started an impromptu discussion about Felix Baumgartner jumping from the stratosphere. It was a great class.
So, where am I going with all of this? Let me explain.
My grandmother made about a dozen quilts in her lifetime and having them around so much as a kid, I sort of took them for granted.
Before I worked at the Museum as an intern, I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum’s exhibition American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection in the summer of 2010. As many exhibitions of material culture tend to do, the display gave me a new appreciation for artforms that had surrounded me my whole life. I saw my grandmother’s craft in a new way, and as someone who just a few years ago mastered sewing on a button, the awe I feel for the craftsmanship is possibly only outdone by the respect I feel for the artistry of quilt making.
Editor’s Note: I’m thrilled to share another post from my intern, Jessica Janzer, whose previous piece focused on the Fall 2011 session of Satellite, one of our teen programs. In this post, Jessica reflects on her teaching practice, which is informed by her art education degree program as well as her work as an intern here at the Museum. Jessica’s thoughtful comparison of two different ways of teaching is great food for thought for all of us who are interested in education and the arts. –Chelsea Kelly, Manager of Digital Learning
As I am getting into the meat of my Art Education B.F.A. major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I am finding more and more just how well my internship at the Milwaukee Art Museum compliments and contrasts with what I am learning academically.
As the Kohl’s Color Wheels Team Coordinator, I have the chance to bridge the gap between the Collection and the world outside the Museum walls. I am given the awesome task of working with area schools and art teachers to bring part of the Collection to them. I wanted to share this process through photos of a past event with Shady Lane Elementary.
The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab—part of the new Kohl’s Education Center, which opened February 25, 2012—is the Museum’s new “technology room” for kids and families. It features an exhibition entitled Museum Inside Out, which takes visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour of different departments at the Museum through high-tech interactives (and some low-tech ones, too). Kids and families can X-ray a painting, choose the frame for a work of art, and “Ask a Curator” their art-related questions. The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab is open during normal Museum hours through August 31, 2013.
One of the higher-tech attractions in the Lab is the Museum’s voting interactive. Five touch-screen monitors each randomly display two artworks side by side; the visitor is instructed to “tap to vote” for his or her favorite work between the two. Upon each selection, the information is collected, the results are tabulated, and two new works are displayed. A larger “leaderboard” screen above the touch-screens displays the current top 20 works in the contest, along with a list of recently selected works.
We started out not knowing how many votes to expect, and we were pretty surprised by the results.
Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed or lost in my own career trajectory, I remind myself that I have paid some serious dues to get my sensibly-heeled foot in the door of the museum world.
I licked envelopes at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Georgia when I was a moody, but somewhat artistic high school junior. Soon after I interned at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where my duties included tasks for registrar Frances Francis and helping with family programming for H. Nickels B. Clark (apologies if I have gotten the spellings wrong- it was a LONG time ago).
Another great internship followed the High Museum, I got to work at the Musée du Petit Palais in Geneva, Switzerland while studying abroad. My memories are vague–did I really try to translate French visitor guides into English using my remedial high school language skills? Did I really try to help conserve Karl Gotsch artworks by carefully moving works on paper off of acidic mats to prevent horrible speckling? One thing sticks: My friends were doing political internships at NGOs, curing cancer, and saving the world, but I felt just as meaningful working with art all day in one of the most incredible cities in the world.
What I mean to say about my internships is that they changed my life, and I know I’m not alone.
Even though the exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec & His Contemporaries may be billed as a fine art retrospective, it also serves as the largest and most extensive graphic design exhibition Milwaukee has ever seen. Featuring posters from the turn of the 20th century, Posters of Paris hearkens back to the roots of the profession. The artworks are situated at a time before “graphic design” was a legitimate term, but well after the world started recognizing the power of arresting visual communication.
And the line-up curator Mary Weaver Chapin has pulled together is impressive. The exhibition includes works by who I’d call the godheads of posters–Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to Leonetto Cappiello and Alphonse Mucha. For a casual observer, or a trained graphic designer, there’s no shortage of exuberant eye candy to indulge in.
Posters of Paris will likely leave you drooling for days.
Museums and the Parking Business
Milwaukee’s United Performing Arts Fund “Ride for the Arts” happened along the gorgeous lakefront this weekend. Included was a Milwaukee Art Museum team of bicycle riders including staff, members, friends, family, and neighbors who woke up early on a Sunday morning to ride 25 miles in support of the arts.
To be honest, I joined the ride because it’s fun. But the lines between work and play can blur very easily for non-profit professionals, so I’m going to put on my Director of Visitor Services hat and talk to you a little bit about how I see bicycles, cars, and all things public access.
Because “parking” is a part of my job description at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Each fall, students in grades 3-12 from across the state of Wisconsin descend upon the Milwaukee Art Museum to participate in the Young Authors and Artists Conference. Young writers and artists use the Museum as inspiration for creating a narrative or artwork in this one-day, statewide conference. Through brainstorming, drafting, revising, and working with teachers and peers, they produce a compilation manuscript with artwork that is published!