July 2010 Interventions
in July, 2010, 17 local and national artists created public art projects/interventions in Milwaukee and other sites in Wisconsin about various water issues. The artists who participated include Nance Klehm (Chicago), Jesse Graves (Milwaukee), Sarah Lewison (Carbondale, IL), Amy Mall / Sherwin Ovid (Chicago), Tiffany Holmes (Chicago), Lisa Moline / Lane Hall (Milwaukee), Maria Cristina Tavera / Xavier Tavera (Minneapolis), kathryn e. martin (Milwaukee), Jenny Plevin / Allison Westbrook (Milwaukee), Ximena Sosa / Christian Munoz (Milwaukee), Nicolas Lampert (Milwaukee), Raoul Deal (Milwaukee).
Documentation of the 12 projects, plus statements, artist bios and contacts:
Jenny Plevin and Allison Westbrook, “Missive Adrift”
We believe in creating art that tells stories about justice, dreams, and beauty. Our installations are both interactive and participatory. Growing up in the 80’s in Milwaukee, we saw first hand the collapse of our manufacturing community, and the growing divide between the “haves” and the “have not’s.” Racial disparity in Milwaukee affects both access to and the conservation of water. Our installation took place in Washington Park on the West Side of Milwaukee. We floated small illuminated jars with messages in them in the pond, and held nighttime canoe rides for those who wished to see the floating objects up close. We also included a video screening in the park’s band shell. Our aim was to create a magical environment to help connect people to their watershed.
Bio Jenny Plevin is an artist and filmmaker living and working in Milwaukee, WI. She has created multiple video projects and installation art with youth as the Education Coordinator at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. Currently, as the Program Director of docUWM (a center in the Film Department at UWM that trains students in documentary), she has produced short and long format documentaries
about a wide range of social issues. Recently she produced 60 short videos about fresh water scientists working in our region.
Allison Westbrook is a freelance Illustrator, animator and 2005 graduate from UWM-Milwaukee with a B.F.A. in music composition and electronic instruments. He has created animations for the Poetry Foundation and soundtracks for both short and feature length films. His illustration work was recently exhibited at the BYO-Studio in the show INK! Work by 12 Milwaukee Illustrators.
Plevin and Westbrook’s last installation looked at issues of the racial divide in Milwaukee using video and sculpture.
jennyplevin [at] gmail [dot] com
allisonwestbrook [at] gmail [dot] com
Nicolas Lampert, “Who Owns Water?”
My project involved designing street signs about water issues and then placing them at various locations around Milwaukee. The “official” appearance of the signs was meant to raise questions about the authorship of the messages. Did a government agency or a citizen post the signs? By inviting the public to think about these issues my aim was to create a public dialog on the larger issues that encompass environmental stewardship. “Who owns water? Whose responsibility is it to protect water,” and “what will happen if citizens allow corporations to privatize the most essential element needed to survive?”
Bio Nicolas Lampert is a Milwaukee/Chicago based interdisciplinary artist, author, and co-organizer of the Watershed project. He works collectively with the Justseeds Artist’s Cooperative (www.justseeds.org), a worker-owned print collective that uses art as a means to collaborate within social justice movements. In the Spring of 2008 he curated Seeing Green: Art, Ecology, and Activism in Milwaukee at Woodland Pattern, a project that involved over 40 local artists working on community-based projects on art and sustainability. (http://seeinggreenartshow.wordpress.com/) He teaches courses on Art and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
kathryn e. martin, “aLot”
For three days, from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, I went to work at a small island, Muck Island, on the Milwaukee River in Mequon, Wisconsin, twenty miles north of Milwaukee. In making my office an office, I set up a table and chairs, connected by inner tubes, kayaks and a rowboat, and strung by flags to announce its opening. The flags, referencing a used car lot, announced my presence on Muck Island and attracted boaters, kayakers, fishermen, and women to the island. They in turn were asked to enjoy the island and its waters with me, sharing their past and present experiences on the river as I observed, noted, and enjoyed.
Bio kathryn e. martin is the Visual Art Recruitment Coordinator and Associate Lecturer at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM), teaching in Foundations and Sculpture. She received a BFA in Sculpture and Art History from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, and an MA and MFA from UWM in InterMedia Studies. She has exhibited extensively, in solo and group shows throughout the United States. With a focus on observing everyday, often overlooked objects, Martin changes inherent functions to make visible the invisible in her often large-scale, site-specific installations, objects, and public sculptures.
kathryne.martin [at] gmail [dot] com
Tiffany Holmes, “FRESH 3.0 Project”
The FRESH 3.0 project is a computer-generated animation composed of fantasy landscapes appropriated from the imagery on bottled water labels that raise awareness about the environmental impact of bottled water in the USA. In Milwaukee, I staged a one-night performance – a “taste test”- in the Riverwest neighborhood on Center Street. Passersby were asked to try two unmarked water samples, and then to identify the one they liked best (tap or bottled) while viewing the animation in the background through a storefront window. Tap water won handily.
Bio Tiffany Holmes explores the potential of art and technology to promote environmental stewardship. Recent work includes a commission for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications where sequences of experimental animations visualize real time energy loads. In April of 2009, Holmes premiered darkSky, a new interactive electricity visualization at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in a UBS 12 x 12 New Artists/New Work exhibition. Holmes is Associate Professor, and former Chair of the Department of Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she teaches courses in computer programming for artists, interaction design, eco-art, and the history and theory of electronic media.
Nance Klehm, “It’s In the Water”
The Kinnickinnick River is both a vibrant habitat and an industrial-municipal waste dump. It flows from the Milwaukee Airport to Lake Michigan, through highly populated largely Latino neighborhoods. For two days in July, I kayaked the length of the Kinnickinnick, stopping occasionally to build a simple shade structure from gathered plant materials and leaving with it a small bag of locally foraged kinnickinnick smoking mixture that I gathered and made a homemade corncob pipe. These riverbank “resting places” became open invitations to others to sit and contemplate how the same processes of illness and healing that come to bear on our bodies are also flowing through our rivers.
Jesse Graves, “River Animal – Mud Stencils”
For my intervention, I posted mud stencils of native Wisconsin animals that depend on the health of rivers and wetlands to survive. I posted them near the Milwaukee river corridor to act as guardians and reminders of connectedness; specifically how our choices impact other animals. The medium I used for these stencils is mud and natural clay. I use earth as my medium because it is consistent with my objective, which is to create inspirational art with minimal environmental impact.
Bio Jesse Graves is an environmental street artist, maker, and student of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. With nearly completed degrees in Jewelry Metalsmithing and Art Education Graves has experience working in a wide array of artistic mediums. Much of his work address environmental and social justice issues. Graves has been published nationally and internationally for his invention of mud stencils, a new form of environmental street art.
jessegraves [at] gmail [dot] com
Sarah Lewison, “Mobile Water School: The Post-Capitalist River”
The Mobile Water School is an experimental school open to all living nearby or inside rivers. In this session we followed paths along the Menominee River in an investigation of its plants, wildlife, and microorganisms. Curricular activities included mapping, applied physics, taking samples, crayfish meditation, poetry reading, art making and lots of discussion. With a cart, a microscope and some test tubes, we set out by foot to learn about the life of the river through observation and rudimentary river science. We also shared knowledge about the city and the restoration of the Menominee River Valley with those who joined us along the way.
Bio Sarah Lewison is an artist, writer and educator based in Southern Illinois. Her interdisciplinary performances trace relations between the social and economic referents we humans maintain to the economic and political presence of non-human species and cultures. Often these performances resemble the ordinary activities that silently define our relationships to environment and each other. Working independently and in collaboration with the media group BLW and the Compass correspondence in the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor, she has created projects for galleries and public spaces in the United States, Mexico, Europe and China.
In China in 2008, Sarah collaborated with Duskin Drum to produce an intervention in the rural countryside of Yunnan called World Heritage Beer Garden Picnic. This durational performance included sculptural site installations and interactions with local farmers, fungi, bacteria and tourists. Through a long-term study of exchanges between societies (animals, humans, tiny critters, capital) at varying scales, the artists interpellated the social ecologies and changing economics of the area.
sacamixta [at] gmail [dot] com
Xavier Tavera & Maria Cristina Tavera, “Agua de Todos Los Dias”
This past year we had a major water leak in our house and decided to re-do our bathroom. In the process, we noticed how incredibly wasteful domestic water use is. We decided to create a video that spoke to this issue in ten short segments, which we could then project using a laptop, a data projector, and a car battery. We traveled around Milwaukee and projected our video on the concrete riverbanks, abandoned buildings, tugboats, salt mounds, and many other surfaces. We wanted the unsuspecting viewer, drawn in by the lyrical images found in unexpected places, to consider the importance of water in so many aspects of our daily lives. We hoped our audience would be inspired to be more conscientious about the water that we all waste.
Bio Xavier Tavera originally from Mexico learned what it felt like to be part of a subculture -the immigrant community- when he relocated to the Midwest. He has tapped into that alienating experience as a photographer, taking photos of people from subcultures to share their lives with others. The photographs give voice to those who are marginalized and offer the viewer an opportunity to uncover binding similarities with diverse communities. Xavier has shown his work extensively in the Twin Cities, nationally and internationally. His work is part of the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Weisman Art Museum.
Maria Cristina Tavera, otherwise known as “Tina,” bilingual/bicultural upbringing between Minnesota and Mexico has greatly influenced her writing and visual art practice. Tina’s artwork addresses myths and rites related to femininity, gender relations, domesticity, motherhood, and the responsibilities traditionally assigned to women. Tina has won national and international academic awards to advance her studies regarding Latino representation in the arts. She has published Frida Kahlo’s exhibition history and bibliography in the Walker Art Center’s exhibition catalogue and Mexican Pulp Art featuring a collection of gouache paintings that served as pulp fiction covers in Mexico during the 1960s.
tinamaria [at] isd [dot] net
xavier [at] xaviertavera [dot] com
Ximena Soza and Cristian Muñoz, “Rio Perpetuo”
Our project, “Rìo Perpetuo” (“Perpetual River”) talks about our dream as artists and global citizens, of keeping rivers alive all around the world. We painted images of fish on a bike path, close to the Milwaukee River as a metaphor for the permanence of the rivers. This painting that fades day by day, remains us that rivers will disappear if we don’t take action. Our “Rìo Perpetuo” flows on the path as an invitation to care for, and to protect all rivers
Bio Cristian Muñoz ‘s artistic career started when he was still a teenager. During the years of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in his native country Chile, Cristian supported the student movement and the political struggle of that time, trough his political murals, that are now part of a couple of compilations on mural art. As an art student at Universidad ARCIS, Cristian used his art for making videos and documentaries that participated successfully in several short film festivals. One of his videos is part of the collection of The Historical National Museum in Chile. During those years Cristian was a teacher assistant in different subjects and participated in different collective exhibits. Since his arrival in Milwaukee in 2007, Cristian has been part of the show Emergent Latinos in Milwaukee at WPCA and different installations for Day of the Dead at UWM, WPCA, Latino Arts and The Milwaukee Art Museum. In 2008 Cristian had the opportunity to assist Raol Deal in the multicultural exhibit Implosion in UW Milwaukee. During the years 2009 and 2010, Cristian has participated in different collective exhibits at the Riverwest Artist Association, gallery that also hosted his two artist show “Memories of the Forgotten”, 2009. His most recent works have been seen at the “Light” exhibit at RAA and at MIAD in the “9/9/09” multimedia performance. A couple of Cristian’s murals can be found at Café Corazon in Milwaukee and at the organization Growing Together in Chicago.
Ximena Soza was born in Chile, 1975, a country at that time, deeply troubled by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. That experience marked her as a person, becoming later a teacher, writer and artist, whose work is always committed to social justice. Ximena has participated in several collective exhibits, showing her work in different medias; stone carving, metal work and weaving. In Milwaukee she has installed many Ofrendas for day of the Dead at WPCA, UW Milwaukee and Latino Arts. She also participated and co-curated the show Emergent Latinos in Milwaukee at WPCA. Ximena was part of Borders; a four artist exhibit about immigration issues at UW Oshkosh in 2008. Since then Ximena has continued to participate in different collective exhibits at the Riverwest Artist Association, gallery that also hosted her two artist show “Memories of the Forgotten” in 2009 and the collective “Light” exhibit in 2010, among others. As a writer and performer Ximena has worked with different theater companies and has also been awarded with several international literary prizes for her fiction and poetry. In the year 2008 she was a part of Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Historia at UW Milwaukee and of the Latina Monologues in 2009, in the same year Ximena participated in the collective multimedia performance “9/9/09” at MIAD. Ximena is currently a teacher in MPS and a doctoral candidate at UW- Milwaukee, where she has received several scholarships and the AOP fellowship.
xdsoza [at] uwm [dot] edu
Raoul Deal, “Access Flows to Stewardship”
Selling prints at the Fondy Farmer’s Market, Milwaukee
I am interested in art that helps make communities strong. That was my initial attraction to the Walnut Way Conservation Corps., located in one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in Milwaukee. In 2006, I was invited to create artwork based on the life experiences of neighborhood elders as expressed in interviews collected during a UWM service-learning project. For two years, I worked on the pieces, and learned from Walnut Way staff and neighbors.
In a recent conversation with Walnut Way’s Director, Sharon Adams, I discovered that the neighborhood once had a pool where everyone learned to swim. Water, she pointed out, links us all. After thirty years working and living out of state, she had returned to find a dilapidated community sadly in decline. There were few recreational options for young people. The pool was gone, and the children did not swim. Indeed, many had never been in the lake. There was no longer access to water and all of its recreational and healing benefits. “Access,” she insisted, “flows to stewardship.”
Over the past 6 years, the Walnut Way Conservation Corps has taken great strides towards re-building an impoverished neighborhood through collective entrepreneurial activities largely based in gardening. As part of this effort, they installed 40 rain gardens throughout the community. This served several important needs. It brought together neighbors who helped provide the labor necessary to build the gardens; It raised consciousness among residents about the importance of environmental stewardship; Since 70% of the pollution in streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by storm water, it contributed in a concrete way to the reduction of the contamination of Milwaukee’s watershed.
In the spirit of collective action central to the Walnut Way philosophy, and mindful of their understanding of water access as both a human right and responsibility, I will work with residents to produce a series of silk-screened prints that explore water issues. We will combine and rework the prints into a mural installed in the alley that runs along the side of the Walnut Way neighborhood house. The work will be formally “unveiled” on October 2nd, 2010 during Walnut Way’s annual Harvest Day held from 11:00am 3:00pm.
Bio: Raoul Deal is a visual artist who often works in community settings both in the United States and Mexico. His commissioned community works include a 90 foot mural done with the participation of Boys and Girls Club students at the Fitzimmonds Bldg. near Metcalf Park in Milwaukee, and a series of large scale works at the Walnut Way Conservation Corps Community House inspired by oral histories of neighborhood elders and informed by their community building activities based in gardening. He teaches in the Department of Visual Art at UW Milwaukee, where he is also Artist in Residence for the Cultures and Communities Program.
rgdeal [at] uwm [dot] edu
Lisa Moline and Lane Hall, “Smallest Drop”
We have been collaborating for a number of years with Dr. Rudi Strickler, an aquatic zoologist who teaches in UWM’s Biology Department, and who runs an amazing research and visualization lab at UWM’s Water Institute. We have used his scientific visualizations of freshwater copepods to create various videos, animations, prints and installations. For the Watershed exhibition, we projected footage throughout the Sweet Water Organics perch farming facility. Sweet Water is a relatively young and very impressive sustainable aquaponic urban farm situated in a reclaimed industrial building on the south side of Milwaukee. This project highlights the potential for collaborative partnerships between creative, entrepreneurial, social and scientific groups – giving visibility to the deep poetry inherent in such enterprises.
Bio Lisa Moline and Lane Hall have been working collaboratively for over 15 years. Their work focuses on site-specific installations, narrative forms and the visualization of science and nature. The work presents an associative reinterpretation of natural sciences, and focuses on the non-sentimental depiction of nature, exploring the boundaries between the natural and the technological.
Their work includes major projects for the California Academy of Sciences, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Post Gallery in Los Angeles and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. Hall and Moline currently have video on display at the UN Pavilion in Shanghai China, as part of “The Nature of Cities” exhibition at the Shanghai World Expo.
Both Lisa Moline and Lane Hall teach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lisa Moline teaches Graphic Design in the Department of Art and Design; Lane Hall is a member of the English Department and teaches experimental narrative and the avant garde.
Amy Mall and Sherwin Ovid
Our conversations with elder Wisconsin dairy farmer John Kinsman explored the topic of water in the rural landscape. His land is at the peak of three watersheds. In stark contrast to factory farming situations, Kinsman’s small pasture-fed dairy farm exists in a paradigm where the earth is honored, ecological balance respected, animals are given a healthy long life, and manure is considered a resource rather than a waste product. The trees he planted over 50 years ago and woodlands that he maintains heal and restore natural ponds and streams. We visited his land, recorded his stories, and responded through art making to create images that correlate with his storytelling.
Bio: Sherwin Ovid is a multimedia artist rooted in filmmaking, painting and drawing. He creates work that explores the limits of social boundaries and their perpetual transformation. He strives to use his work as a means of creative intervention to insight social awareness.
Amy Mall is multimedia artist rooted in fiber craft traditions. She strives to illuminate and heal the connections between people, place, community and ecology through her creative endeavors.
Amy and Sherwin work collaboratively to create media about farming, artisan work and related issues the Midwest, India, and beyond. They refer to their art, fair trade, and community building endeavors as Twine, and regularly organize events in the Chicago area such as community dinners with the good ingredients from their family’s garden.