University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Exhibition & Program Schedule

Lisa Selby: Must come down & Benjamin DeMott: Teeter Jam

March 19 - May 18, 2014
Opening Reception March 20, 6-8pm

selby and demott

Lisa Selby:

Must come down, Lisa Selby’s first solo exhibition in the US, explores the performative nature of clay, particularly in relation to gendered notions of the domestic. Exposed to the elements of time, gravity, and human intervention, clay objects in both fired and unfired states become catalysts for transformation through the parameters that the artist imposes on them. Cast vases and other domestic ornaments are displaced from the realm of the everyday and, in the process, imbued with tangible intimacy as well as a subtle sense of alienation. The objects in Selby’s work become active participants in undermining the traditions and gendered etiquette historically attached to the medium of clay. Selby is based in London and created the work for the exhibition while in residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The exhibition includes sculpture, video, and a new performance that will debut at the opening reception on March 20 at 7:30. Not for you/ for them (2014) sees two performers—Sarah Buccheri and Kim Miller—in high heels, instructed to repeatedly step up a small platform made of bricks and back down into a pool of heavy clay soil. Through the performers’ struggle to keep up with this seemingly non-sensical task, Selby calls out the arbitrary nature of culturally sanctioned gender roles and socially dictated norms of female beauty. Must come down is curated by Sandra Erbacher for INOVA. Production funding has been provided by the Arts Council England, the British Council through the Artists’ Inter¬national Development Fund, and the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Benjamin DeMott:

In his first major solo exhibition, Chicagoan Benjamin DeMott explores the intuitive side of working with clay, a process the artist describes as one of “knowing through making.” For Teeter Jam DeMott created an array of sculptures installed together in what he imagines to be a fictitious workshop. Here a variety of assemblages play distinct roles. Larger works resembling deconstructed figures stand in for the craftsman. Made of molded clay and historically specific applications of glaze, they signify both the ceramicist’s expertise and the ceramicist himself. Suggesting the craftsman’s products, some include DeMott’s actual tools integrated into the things they are used to make. By merging medium and means, the works become a spirited reflection on labor’s relationship to creativity. Additionally, DeMott responds to the peculiarities of the gallery—its columns, moveable walls, natural light, pedestals and vitrines—and integrates them into his work as sculptural materials. The physical, visual, and imaginative experiences in the exhibition ask us to leap from the material world of objects to the subjective realm of creative play. Teeter Jam is curated by INOVA Director Sara Krajewski.

Curating the Whitney Biennial 2014 with Michelle Grabner

Michelle Grabner

March 31, 2014 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Artist and UWM alum Michelle Grabner speaks in conversation with Sara Krajewski about her experiences curating the 2014 Whitney Biennial, one of the most anticipated exhibitions of American art held every two years. The Museum selected Grabner alongside Stuart Comer and Anthony Elms to represent a range of geographic vantages and curatorial methodologies. Hear Grabner’s perspective on the challenges of contributing to this time-honored, and time-and-again criticized, exhibition.

Mendi + Keith Obadike

Mendi + Keith Obadike

American Cypher: April 4 - May 18, 2014

American Cypher is a suite of projects that considers the role of DNA in our current understanding of race and American identity. Stories about historical individuals including scientists, members of the criminal justice system, and politicians form poetic reflections on where the reality of scientific data complicates the irrational fears and powerful emotions wrought by the human psyche. The project began at Bucknell University where Mendi + Keith were invited to research the stories of president Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings, who was his slave, his wife’s half sister, and the mother of some of his children. Through this investigation, Mendi + Keith recalled “we began to see how much the DNA evidence that undeniably links the Hemings and Jefferson family lines affected the historical record… for us, this opened the door to other conversations about the role of DNA in our understanding of roots, race, and American identity.”

The eight-channel sound installation at the core of the exhibition derives from recording a 200-year-old bell belonging to Sally Hemings. The audio becomes a meditation on the resonance that genetic material holds over time and through biological lineages. Passages in the accompanying video projection depict DNA’s double helix form discovered by scientist James Watson, who became infamous in 2007 for his racist remarks about perceptions of African genetic inferiority. Later his genetic identity revealed African descent in his family lineage. Letterpress prints describe other stories through image and text and cover the use of DNA as evidence in the criminal justice system and the ways identity may be embellished to attain cultural notoriety or manipulated by others with political motivations. According to Mendi + Keith, “the spark for all of this is the Hemings and Jefferson story. We see the Hemings/Jefferson story as an American origin story. It gets to the heart of two questions—who gets to be American and how do we identify them?”

On April 2 at 7pm, Mendi + Keith will speak about their work in the Artists Now! lecture series at the Arts Center Lecture Hall on the UWM Campus. The exhibition opens on April 3, 2014 from 6-8 pm and includes Body Lock, a short performance by Mendi + Keith, at 7 pm. Mendi + Keith Obadike’s visit to UWM is co-sponsored by PSOA’s Art + Design Department, Music Department and UWM’s Center for 21st Century Studies.

BodyLock: April 3, 2014, 7pm, reception to follow

The Obadikes perform a short musical (voice and harmonium + electronics) meditation on identity and the body’s code as a key or a lock. Running time 20 minutes.

Morgan Thorson: Journeyman

April 14, 2014 at 7pm, and April 17, 2014 at 7:30pm


Solo Flight is a week-long festival curated by Alverno Presents featuring the work of powerful individual performers in music, dance and theatre. At INOVA, choreographer Morgan Thorson will present her new work Journeyman, a two-phase project that mediates conversation, the solo dance form, and the itinerant life of the dance maker. First Thorson will meet an individual she does not know at a party on April 14 and, through a one-on-one discussion, craft a solo dance missive performed privately for that person later. On April 17, a performance of the dance will be performed publicly.

This is a ticketed event. For more information about Solo Flight and to purchase tickets, please visit

Leo Saul Berk: The Uncertainty of Enclosure

June 7 - August 14, 2014
Opening Reception, June 6, 6-8pm


Leo Saul Berk, Clinkers, 2011, courtesy of the artist

The Uncertainty of Enclosure explores the impact of an architecturally iconic residence—Bruce Goff’s Ford House in Aurora, Illinois—on the art of Leo Saul Berk. Goff utilized unconventional materials and extraordinary techniques to achieve fluid forms inspired by nature. Berk has created a body of work informed by his childhood experience at the home, his historical research, and his ongoing reflection on the house’s pivotal role in the development of his artistic vision. INOVA will tour this exhibition nationally. Support for this exhibition is provided in part by grants from the Mary L. Nohl Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.