Exhibitions by Contemporary Artists

Contemporary artists interrogate vital themes like identity, family, memory, activism, and representation in their work. These exhibitions often connect directly with curricular and co-curricular concerns across campus. 

A visual archive of past exhibitions is available on ArtStor.

See installation views of exhibitions in the Wriston Art Galleries from 2016 to the present.

Alexandra Bell: Counternarratives

Hoffmaster Gallery

Multidisciplinary artist Alexandra Bell will give a Convocation in winter 2022. In conjunction with her campus visit, select works from her Counternarratives series on disrupting media bias will be on view. In this series, Bell edits New York Times articles, altering headlines, changing images, and redacting text to reveal oppressive patterns in news reportage and society at large. (Winter 2022)

Three New York Times front pages, two with annotations and edits, pasted on a grey cinderblock wall
Alexandra Bell, A Teenager With Promise (Annotated), 2017, wheatpaste mural

Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), Remnants

In his Remnants series, Ho-Chunk photographer and UW-Madison art faculty member Tom Jones re-appropriates imagery from historical documents such as newspapers, etchings, and ledger drawings, engraving them on glass and laying them over photographs of patterned carpets and textiles taken at Indian casinos throughout the United States.

This exhibition offers visitors a deeper exploration of the ways American Indians have been visually represented in historical popular culture and also raises crucial questions about these depictions of identity. The dialogue between the engraved images and the vibrantly colored carpets in the photographs encourages reflection about events in U.S. history and the future for Indian communities with casino revenues.

Left panel: swirls of red, brown, and yellow. Right panel: a stylized snake broken into sections with the text "Join, or Die" underneath it.
Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), Join or Die, from the Remnants series, Digital photograph and engraved glass

An Unnamed Need: Pattern and Beauty in Contemporary Art

Over the past ten years, a growing number of artists have been creating works of unabashed beauty, a marked reversal from the denigration of beauty often evident in previous decades. Many of these artists pursue beauty through patterns and abstract designs.

An Unnamed Need: Pattern and Beauty in Contemporary Art brings together 5 nationally recognized artists who explore the ways in which pattern, beauty, and craft intersect: Anila Quayyum Agha, Jennifer Angus, Michelle Grabner, Heather McGill, and Tony Orrico. Together, they highlight the many forms that beauty can take, but also point towards complex cultural themes such as ethnic identity, gender, and humans’ relationship with the natural world. These are works that challenge the mind as they delight the eye. Curated by LU Professors Rob Neilson (studio art) & Ben Tilghman (art history). (Winter 2016)

Large, colorful insects arranged on a wall in geometric patterns to mimic wallpaper
Jennifer Angus, Arabesque (detail), 2015, Kallima inachus, Heteropteryx dilatata, Tosena albata, Attacus atlas, various stag beetles

Patrick Earl Hammie, Aureole

Patrick Earl Hammie’s artist statement: “From how we view black bodies as dangerous, virile, and exotic, to how we judge and objectify women based on aesthetics, to how we encounter difference, all are informed by art’s history and visual culture. We have learned to form meaning and value around people and their bodies in part though the images we consume and the narratives we inherit.

My work is defined by its ongoing engagement with the history of painting. In part my interest is historical: I study the pictorial, technical, and narrative conventions of Western art to explore the ways primarily male artists have imagined the body. Considering such conventions in a contemporary context, I deliver fresh ideals of men and women that both disturb the existing canon and normalize their presence in public art space and discourse.” (Fall 2017)

Drawing of two figures, one leans far back while the the other bends over to support them awkwardly with an arm under their back
Patrick Earl Hammie, Deposit, 2015, oil on paper

thaum koj tshwm sim / when you were made: Tshab Her & Victoria Kue

Tshab Her and Victoria Kue are emerging Hmong-American artists whose work addresses the complexities of being second-generation women members of this nationless ethnic minority. Through installation, sculpture, textile, video, and social-practice based pieces, they navigate the politics of displacement, as well as the impact of gendered social roles and traditions. This exhibition was curated by Kate Mothes, founder of Young Space, and funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. (Winter 2019)

Left side: four white arrow signs on a pole that say "You Are A Joke" against a grey field. Right: a horizontal band of bright colors and patterns that appear to turn toward the viewer
Left: Victoria Kue, Guidance, 2017, acrylic Right: Tshab Her, Reclaiming Existence, 2016, vinyl

Tyanna Buie, Irrational in Light of Danger

Tyanna Buie’s artist statement: “Signifiers, such as family photographs and familial objects, can elicit a residual emotional response. This exhibition explores a narrative sourced from specific moments throughout my adolescence as I carefully navigated through various accounts of childhood trauma.

Unaware of impending dangers and long-term effects of the abuse and mistreatment I witnessed and experienced at a young age, I now continue to unearth mutual histories within my family and explore past indiscretions. As I find connections passed down from one generation to the next, I can gain a deeper understanding of where we started, and where we need to be as individuals and family members.” (Spring 2017)

Artwork featuring a seated woman holding a large gold flower on the left and a side table with lamp and plant on the right. The woman and table are connected with a silver cord.
Tyanna Buie, The Family Matriarch, 2016, screen-print, hand applied ink, stainless steel on paper

David Najib Kasir: Addition of Tremors by Remainder of Years of Fire

The subjects in Milwaukee-based artist David Najib Kasir’s figurative paintings are overlaid with traditional, colorful Arab designs called Zellige. The scenes are drawn from his personal narrative, including his parents’ journey to the U.S. and the current crises in their homelands (Syria and Iraq). As an U.S.-born artist, David aims to inform viewers about the recent wars and violence in Syria as well, to build a greater understanding of the millions of voiceless Arabs now living in chaos and disarray.

Image of a man holding a child overlaid by organic, Middle Eastern style patterns
David Najib Kasir, Girl <greater than> Baba in Decimals, acrylic on Canvas, 2020