On Being Here (and There)

Between You and Me

June 28, 2020 — January 10, 2021

Between You and Me assembles a group of contemporary artists whose work engages in acts of connection and care. The exhibition considers varying proximities for care, both intimate and mediated. Whether working in their immediate communities or extending themselves to strangers, these artists employ practices of connection that might model ways for fuller participation in the places we call home.

Featuring everyday objects including furniture, toolkits, books, menus, letters, signs, and other articles designed and made by artists, Between You and Me tackles a range of subjects—from hospitality to belonging—that intersect with ideas of making and sustaining community, both in situ and at large.

The exhibition invites looking beyond the specific work of art—to appreciate the less material, though impactful, outcomes of the artists’ processes. Each of these acts of making and connecting, or connecting through making, confirms that artists are environment builders when they cultivate networks, nurture the growth of skills and knowledge, and care for or minister to the needs of others.

Artists include: Chloë Bass, Sara Clugage, General Sisters (Dana Bishop-Root and Ginger Brooks Takahashi), Harriet Tubman Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice with Lisa Jarrett and Harrell Fletcher, John Preus, Benjamin Todd Wills, and Christine Wong Yap.

On Being Here (and There)

In a time of divisive public discourse and social polarization, On Being Here (and There) highlights the roles cultural organizations and artists perform as citizen, custodian, neighbor, and friend. The works presented in this series of exhibitions reveal ways our communities are enhanced and shaped by a diverse spectrum of artistic practices and engagement. 

With the August 2020 opening of the Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, it felt right to revisit the breadth of the work the Arts Center does in preserving, creating, and showcasing cultural assets. Since the 1970s, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center has cared for artist-built environments in Wisconsin and beyond, acting locally, nationally, and internationally. Through residencies, exhibitions, and outreach, the Arts Center has sought to strengthen connections, open dialogue, and engender collaboration among its various local and international constituencies. 

On Being Here (and There) is anchored by a group exhibition titled Between You and Me, which brings together contemporary artists whose practices are intentional acts of care for their neighbors or broader communities.

Complementing Between You and Me are three exhibitions that engage the Art Center’s own history of collaboration, collecting, and preservation. Tokens of Appreciation is a story about the unique relationships that develop between Kohler Co. factory associates and artists participating in the Arts/Industry residency program. Good Road to Follow evokes Adolph Vandertie’s in-house museum to hobo and tramp art and explores the role of grass-roots archiving in the maintenance of histories. Visible Repair uses the 1883 John Michael Kohler home as the container for artwork and objects that speak to intimate, domestic, and personal acts of care and repair.

These exhibitions are supplemented by The Projector Room, a gallery newly dedicated to the showing of film and video artworks that expand on themes pertinent to the Arts Center’s mission, collection and programming. Three films—Who Is Bozo Texino?, Inscriptions of an Immense Theater, and EDM House—broadly examine belonging, questioning some of the invisible structures that help create, define, and destroy our sense of self in relation to the world around us.

This exhibition is supported by the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education, Kohler Foundation, Inc., the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.