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

Five Traits of Magical Realism

Posted July 11, 2019

Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels draws on the literary genre of magical realism as she creates her site-specific sculptural forms. In doing so, Bothwell Fels blurs the lines of reality and imagination to create a new environment within the gallery. What is real? What is make-believe? How do these elements look when they intersect?

As a guide, Bothwell Fels utilizes these five primary traits of magical realism from Wendy B. Faris’s book, Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community.

An "irreducible" magic that cannot be explained by typical notions of natural law and is often used to disrupt an established, expected order.

A realistic description that stresses normal, common, everyday phenomena, which is then revised or "refelt" by the marvelous. Extreme or amplified settings are often used to accomplish this, as are small subversive details.

These two visions or realms nearly merge or intersect.

It draws readers between the two views of reality. We are defamiliarized with the scene—what we thought we knew becoming strange and unexpected. Thus, we learn to "border skip" to move fluidly between the ordinary and the fantastical.

Space is often challenged; the identities of places, people, and objects are at times broken down and reconfigured to make new relationships.




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.