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Press Release

MOWA to display A Year by the Lake

Exhibition August 18, 2023

(MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN) – MOWA on the Lake will host the work of four photographers who sought to capture the promise of a new day during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The show opens on August 31 with a reception from 5:00–7:00 at St. John’s on the Lake with a presentation from the artists at 6:00.

Metaphorically and literally, they were dark days. A global pandemic brought untold misery to millions. Anxiety soared and lockdowns and social distancing became ways of life. As customary activities became inaccessible, some individuals seized the moment as an opportunity to explore new avenues.

Showing remarkable commitment and perseverance, every day from September 2020 to September 2021, four Milwaukee residents and friends, Phyllis Bankier, Heather Ho, Diane Rychlinski, and Kathy Smith, photographed the Milwaukee County shoreline as the sun rose. Their stated goal was to capture each unique day as it emerged from the gloom. The dawning light of each new day offered spiritual renewal and the collective optimism of friendship.

The resulting photographs cover the Milwaukee shoreline from Doctor’s Park in the north, to Bender Park in the south. Normally, the area is densely populated, and human presence is evident in the Milwaukee skyline, but the hour is dawn and people rarely appear. In part a result of the time of day, this dearth of human activity underscores the effects of the pandemic on daily life. The mood of the images is subdued, even mournful, evoking a sense of quietude and timelessness.

The exhibition runs through December 3, 2023. Admission is free.


Image credit: Phyllis Bankier, Stillness, 2021