Mary Nohl (1914–2001) was a wood-carver, painter, sculptor, ceramist, printmaker, potter, writer, illustrator, and jeweler who described herself as simply “a woman who likes tools.”
Nohl was also an environment builder; her creations permeated every room in her home and between every tree in her yard. She was deeply influenced by the Lake Michigan shoreline and her woodland surroundings.
She mixed concrete from the sand and stone of her beachfront property to build dozens of sculptures. Her colorful wooden reliefs of swimmers and boaters graced the home’s exterior. Wind chimes and wooden fish hung in the trees. Inside her home, in addition to altering every wall, light fixture, vase, and piece of furniture, Nohl worked on paintings, jewelry, glass sculptures, wood assemblages, ceramics, wire figures, and puppets.
In the spring of 2015, after some doubts about whether or not the art environment could remain in situ, the Arts Center embarked on a large-scale restoration of Nohl’s lake cottage in its original Fox Point, Wisconsin, location.
For this exhibition of works from the Arts Center’s collection, Catherine J. Morris, the Sackler Family Curator for Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, has chosen works that highlight Mary Nohl as a prolific artist in many media. The selections showcase Nohl as a creative individual with an identity beyond that of an outlier in her community.
Catherine J. Morris is the Sackler Family Curator for Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, with an emphasis in using feminism in art as a methodology, and working to assert histories that complicate singular narratives.
Scholars, artists, preservationists, educators, activists, art historians, collectors and devotees will delve into the complex subject of artist-built environments during a three-day conference at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
Through a variety of performances, panels, and workshops, attendees will share new ideas and broaden the collective knowledge and appreciation of this unique style of art making that is the focus of a yearlong series of exhibitions at the Arts Center.
The conference, titled The Road Less Traveled, is the third Divine Disorder program of the National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). In addition to the Arts Center and NCPTT, Kohler Foundation Inc. is a hosting partner for the conference.
Sep. 27, 2017 - Sep. 29, 2017Register
This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, Kohler Foundation, Inc. and Sargento Foods, Inc. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) (nonprofit) organization; donations are tax deductible.
The Road Less Traveled 50th anniversary program was conceived by Amy Horst, deputy director for programming. The exhibitions series was organized and curated by Arts Center Curator Karen Patterson. Special thanks to Emily Schlemowitz, assistant curator, for the curation of Driftless: Nick Engelbert & Ernest Hüpeden and Folk & Fable: Levi Fisher Ames & Albert Zahn, and Amy Chaloupka, guest curator of The World in a Garden: Nek Chand and Volumes: Stella Waitzkin.