About the Open House Project

Beauty Surplus is part of the Open House Project series, an ongoing Arts Center initiative providing a platform for emerging and underrepresented artists and art forms. Artists and organizations are invited to collaborate and experiment with new ideas and original content in exhibitions that use the galleries in the John Michael Kohler home as a place for artistic inquiry. The home, built in 1883, is a unique setting for the generation of new curatorial explorations of topics ranging from the familiar to the phenomenal. 


Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels
July 14, 2019 - May 24, 2020

Brooklyn-based artist Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels is interested in redefining what is deemed beautiful regarding the human body, nature, and architecture.

Beauty Surplus investigates the intersection of “desirable” and “too much.” Each room of the John Michael Kohler house galleries is altered through ecologically inspired interventions that emulate bodily “flaws” and question cultural standards of beauty. Bulging ceilings, mysterious ceramic growths, perforated walls, and cloud-like structures fill the exhibition space with an “architecture of becoming.”

Bothwell Fels’s installation conflates the real and the imaginary, encourages heightened observation, and challenges presumptions of stability in fixed spaces and structures. Visitors are invited to consider floors, ceilings, and walls as vehicles for change and new thinking.

This exhibition is part of the Open House Project series. The Open House Project is an ongoing Arts Center initiative providing a platform for emerging and underrepresented artists and art forms to cultivate creative examinations of history, source material, contemporary art practices, and site-specificity.

Word Cloud

Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels blurs lines. She explores the smudgy, indistinct territories between make-believe and reality, between beauty and imperfection, between our environment and our bodies.

Her Beauty Surplus sculptures reflect the tensions that emerge when expectations are disrupted. Where does familiarity subside and discomfort begin? How can we find something simultaneously compelling and repelling?

In order to better capture and define the push-pull present in the Beauty Surplus sculptures, we’d like you to contribute a single word you associate with this feeling to our word cloud. As more people contribute, the word cloud will grow and change, so check back often! Add your word here.


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.