One million dollars and a dream to inspire will allow students at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater the opportunity to work alongside some of the biggest names in contemporary art for years to come.
The UW-W Art and Design Department received The Annette and Dale Schuh Visiting Artist Endowment for $1 million with the contingency to bring renowned artists to campus to meet and inspire students.
The first artist in residency will be printmaker, sculptor and multimedia artist Kiki Smith. Smith’s residency will last from Monday, March 6 through Friday, March 10.
Annette Schuh was in the graduating class of ’71 at UW-W. As a student, she had the opportunity to meet some of the most prominent artists of the time including Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley. She says she was so impacted by her experiences with these artists that she felt the need to make sure future students had an opportunity to meet such distinguished artists.
“My professors and these special guests left their prints, which remain to this day, on my life and work,” Schuh said in an email to a professor in the department.
With this grant, UW-W will continue to bring influential artists to campus every year to interact with students. Melton says the program will continue to impact students lives in the following years.
“We are really trying to work out what this will become,” Melton said. “In the future, we want to involve as many students as possible and as many disciplines within art and design as possible and have the same type of impact on our students lives and future careers as Annette’s experience had on her. This is just the first artist in a long line of established artists. Once a year we will invite one as part of our project; it’s very exciting.”
Art professor Dale Kaminski explains how great this opportunity is not only for the individual students who will be able to meet her, but for the reputation of the university as
“For people not involved in the art industry or maybe don’t know her, it’s as if the football team had Brett Favre come coach them for a week,” Kaminski said. “We’re bringing in someone with a huge national reputation and brings in that voice and talks about the life of an artist, and that’s inspiring.”
For her residency, the art department’s printmaking equipment will be moved from the basement of the Center of the Arts, to the ground level Crossman Gallery. The space will be converted into a studio where students can work alongside Smith as well as print artist and inventor Dan Welden.
Welden was the inventor of the printmaking technique Solarprinting. He has been featured in more than 80 solo exhibitions and more than 700 group exhibitions around the world.
“Whitewater’s going to be one of the world’s best print making labs for a week,” Kaminski said. “Kiki Smith will be here and we have the master print maker Dan Welden coming
in to help with the technical aspect side of things, and then we have Tandem Press setup to make the final prints.”
Max White, professor of art, says the gallery will be made into a space where everyone is welcome to come and work.
“We will be bringing up tables for students to work and have little nooks for yoga classes and places to drink tea and coffee,” White said.
“This is an art making experience where you get to be in the space, see what they’re doing, make your own work, and talk with them. It’s very hands-on and interactive.”
Smith will be holding an open lecture at 7 p.m. on March 6 in the Young Auditorium. Details surrounding when the gallery will be open to the public for students to work with Smith are still undetermined, but some classes do have scheduled times in the gallery with Smith.
As a pioneer in contemporary art, Smith relies heavily on instinct and her environment. Kaminski, Melton and White say they do not know what to expect from Smith’s work while at UW-W, and it will be a mystery even to Smith until she starts working in the gallery.
In more than 30 years as an artist, Smith has broken ground in work that directly confronts themes of feminism, AIDS, identity and the body. Her disruption of binaries such as human-animal and male-female have advanced conversations of contemporary social issues.
Some of Smith’s most famous works include Untitled jars, Lilith, Born and Wolf Girl. She has been featured in galleries around the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Barbara Gross Galerie in Munich. Art News recently published the comprehensive list of featured artists for the 2017 Venice Biennale which included Smith as one of the 120 artists.