The autofocus feature on a camera automatically prioritizes the focal point of an image. Removing the human instinct in the creation of an image, the mechanics of this tool can affect how we perceive something right in front of us. Autofocus uses this characteristic as the basis for a community-driven exhibition that invites visitors to consider various perspectives on the things and places we see every day.
Items such as postcards, historic markers, and maps shape how we view a community and can also inadvertently leave out what is most significant to those who live there. What if the community got to decide what is in focus? What would we choose? Instead of a statue in a park, would we pick a favorite park bench?
The exhibition includes collaborative activities that prompt visitors to share their viewpoints of the places, objects, or moments that make up our daily lives. Over the course of six months, the exhibition will come to life with a diversity of photographs, drawings, text, and dialogue generated by the community. The result will be an ever-changing and highly personalized understanding of Sheboygan.
Visitors are encouraged to return to the gallery to see the impact of their involvement and to continue the conversation with friends and family.
On view in Autofocus January 14–February 16, 2020
JMKAC invited three local educators to pilot our new Teacher Fellowship Program, inspired by a similar and successful program at Chicago’s INTUIT: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. The student-made artworks displayed in Autofocus are the result of lesson plans produced during this pilot program. This work provides yet another way to think about how we can use visual art to communicate ideas and participate in our communities.
Through the program, each teacher developed a lesson plan inspired by the work of Lenore Tawney and the theme of dialogue. The teachers then took their students on a field trip to JMKAC to see Tawney’s work for themselves. Back in the classroom, students used a variety of media to create collages, paper embroidery, sculptures, weavings, illustrated journals, and wooden tiles. A student from Oostberg High School said it best: “I made this piece in Lenore Tawney’s style, but with my own style twist to it.”
The lesson plans will be the first in an online catalogue of teacher-developed curricula connected to the Arts Center’s collection on view at the Art Preserve, opening August 2020.
This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, Kohler Foundation, Inc., and the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year.