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Museum Director Marcelle Giving a Press Preview

The Museum Presents Remains: Contemporary Artists and the Material Past

Posted on February 12th, 2009

MILWAUKEE, WI—Three midwestern artists explore the dreams, fantasies, and memories that people project onto material objects in Remains: Contemporary Artists and the Material Past, on view February 12–June 7 in the Decorative Arts gallery at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Beth Lipman, Sarah Lindley, and BA Harrington breathe life into historic forms through their new work, collectively raising questions about the lingering lifecycle and hidden meanings of things in our homes. The occasion brings the artists to the Museum for an
opening night roundtable on Thursday, February 12.

Installed on the Museum’s lower level, Remains is juxtaposed with the diverse holdings of the
American Collections galleries, where objects are explored through transdisciplinary scholarship and a number of artistic interventions in order to bring diverse viewpoints and interpretive possibilities to the study of early American decorative arts.

Beth Lipman
‘s monumental sculpture Still Life with Metal Pitcher presents a dining table covered in some four hundred hand-blown vessels, each of which is a transparent rendering of a historic form. Lipman loosely bases her compositions on Dutch still-life paintings, drawing parallels between the golden age of Holland and today’s era of mass consumerism. She is the coordinator of the artist-in-residence program at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. 

Sarah Lindley‘s chests and cabinets are haunting skeletal re-creations of eighteenth-century furniture, built of high-fired porcelain. Stripped of all decoration, these white, fragile forms reveal the uncertainty that underlies the domestic interior. Lindley is Assistant Professor of Art at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. Trained as a ceramicist, she has spent her career transforming clay into unconventional forms.

BA Harrington probes sexual metaphors lurking in old dowry chests in her installation, Lineage, which combines the artist’s hand-crafted cabinetry with her own textile work and video projections by collaborator Chele Isaac. Courting some confusion, the overlays and open panels in Harrington’s work expose once-hidden contents to undermine the authoritarian elements of solid forms. Harrington is a candidate for an MA in art history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She received her MFA in woodworking in 2007.

Remains: Contemporary Artists and the Material Past is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Chipstone Foundation, and curated by Ethan Lasser, curator at the Chipstone Foundation.

Opening Night Roundtable with the Artists
Moderated by curator Ethan Lasser
Thursday, February 12, 6:15 p.m.
Free with Museum admission

Gallery Talks
Tuesday, March 17, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 30, 1:30 p.m.
Free with Museum admission
Join curator Ethan Lasser for fresh and insightful tours of the gallery.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum houses a Collection with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine “Best Design of 2001.”

Images and Interviews Available upon Request.