Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Calling All Milwaukee Makers!

Title wall for The Tool at Hand. Photo by the author

Have you had the opportunity to stop by The Tool at Hand yet?

Last month, I wrote about an awesome performance that took place at Sweet Water Organics in preparation of the Chipstone Foundation’s Tool at Hand exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The Tool at Hand’s premise is simple: create a work of art using only one tool. Last spring, Ethan Lasser, the exhibition’s curator, sent out a video invitation to 18 artists located in Europe and the United States. Of these 18, 16 agreed to participate in the exhibition. The video, created by Nicola Probert, was itself made with just one tool. In it, one can see a video camera being taken apart as Nicola describes the challenge.

The artists are not told what material to use, what tool to use, or how to use it. They can interpret the exercise as they see fit, as long as they keep in mind certain questions.

Why did you choose this tool?

Where did this tool come from?

Are you using it for the task for which it was intended?

The aim of the exhibition is to explore artists’ attachment to their tools, as well as set up an experiment to find out what happens when artists are faced with an interesting constraint.

Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Burniture—A performance by Hongtao Zhou

Burniture on fire. Photo courtesy of the artist

On Tuesday, November 22, 2011 a chair was born in the most unlikely of places, Sweet Water Organics.

Sweet Water Organics is an urban acquaponic farm located in the Bayview neighborhood of Milwaukee. If you haven’t already been, you should make it a point to visit. The space is amazing.

It’s a big open warehouse with rows of fish tanks. There are beds of lettuce and other vegetables growing above the water tanks, being fed by the tanks below. In Sweet Water’s sustainable system, the plants act as a water filter for the fish and the fish waste acts as natural fertilizer for the plants.

The Sweet Water Foundation uses a wide-open space in the building as an area for performances, artist collaborations, and educational programming. Their mission is to develop inter-generational and interdisciplinary educational programming for sustainability with a focus on the potential of urban agriculture and aquaculture in the 21st century setting.

Conversations between Jesse Blom of Sweet Water Foundation and Michael Carriere of the Milwaukee School of Engineering led to the idea of having artist Hongtao Zhou create a wax chair at the urban farm.