Terese Agnew (1959 - )

Birth date: 1959 Death date:  
Birth location: Death location:  
Media: Installation , Sculpture , Textile Web site: http://www.tardart.com/index.php
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

Began art career as a public sculptor.
1991, began making art quilts, using her "drawing with thread" method to create intricately detailed and intensely embroidered quilts.

1985, The Dragon Project, 1st major installation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (local & national recognition)
1995, The Wisconsin Workers Memorial, Zeidler Union Square, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (collaboration with Mary Zebell)
1995, 35 large tree stump concrete sculpture installation, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Brookfield, Wisconsin
2002, On Nature: Five Wisconsin Artists, Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin
2005, Portrait of a Textile Worker, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Brookfield, Wisconsin
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.
Renwick Gallery
Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin
John M. Walsh III Collection of Contemporary Art Quilts
The Art Quilt by Robert Shaw


Terese Agnew
Born 1959
Resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Born in 1959, Terese Agnew has distinguished herself in two quite different artistic media: large-scale public sculpture installations and painstakingly intricate art quilts on novel themes. In either mode of expression, Agnew thoughtfully explores relationships between people and their built and natural environments. Unafraid to expend great amounts of time and effort to realize her visions, Agnew is especially attuned to workers’ issues and the passage of time.

Agnew made a name for herself with The Dragon Project (1985), a huge fiberglass sculpture installed on a historic water tower in Milwaukee; the project’s impact far exceeded its five-day duration. In 1995, she collaborated with Mary Zebell on The Wisconsin Workers Memorial, a permanent sculptural installation at Milwaukee’s Zeidler Union Square. In these works, among others, Agnew shows a flair for realizing the potentials of our public spaces and communities.

Terese Agnew began making art quilts in 1990. She may be best known for her Portrait of a Textile Worker (2005). The portrait is of a female Bangladeshi textile worker; the materials, thousands of designer clothing labels, hand-stitched to a fabric backing so as to refashion the photographic subject in a quilted textile mosaic. Agnew, a passionate and articulate voice for social justice, said of the anonymous textile worker: “[S]he is denied agency or humanity by the system that allows her to be driven like a machine. I intend to find her name.” Meanwhile, the brand names on the many designer labels that make up the quilt speak to us about the system of production that Agnew critiques.

For all her seriousness, however, Agnew’s quilts and sculptural installations tend to include elements of playfulness and understated humor. Agnew’s quilts are found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and elsewhere; Portrait of a Textile Worker was acquired by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York for its permanent collection.

Wisconsin Affiliations

No affiliations were found.

Wisconsin Art Organizations

No art organizations were found.

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