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

Needing to Know How Things Feel

Posted May 20, 2020

Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, Needing to Know How Things Feel, 2018-19; video, 11:45 min.

Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels’s sculptural interventions shift our sense of reality and reveal the significant role our environment plays in our perceptions of being. Where is the border between the physical world and our imagined version of it, and how can one become the other? What is possible when the line blurs or is crossed?

In Needing to Know How Things Feel, compiled for Beauty Surplus, Fels shares moments of inspiration for the textures and visuals she uses in her work. Filmed on her mobile device over the course of two years, the composition brings viewers into close familiarity with the artist’s fingertip explorations of her world.

Fels’s fingering of surfaces, filmed prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, takes on new significance as concerns about viral exposure limit our own connections with broader environments.



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.