Claiming Space: A New Century of Visionary Women 

July 24 – October 3, 2021 Upcoming Exhibitions
Image for Melissa Cooke Benson, Makeover, 2021

Melissa Cooke Benson, Makeover, 2021

Image for Gina Litherland, Beautiful Wolf Lady, 2018Gina Litherland, Beautiful Wolf Lady, 2018

Image for Claire Stigliani, Quest for the Unicorn, 2020Claire Stigliani, Quest for the Unicorn, 2020
In 1961, Melitta Hedwig Suder-Pick joined a select group of visionary American women who founded art museums, gifting future generations institutions including MoMA and the Whitney in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston, and, of course, the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.

Claiming Space: A New Century of Visionary Women celebrates MOWA’s 60th anniversary and its visionary founder with an exhibition featuring Wisconsin’s current crop of visionary women. Thirty artists contribute deeply personal works that touch on themes of motherhood, the body, life during the pandemic, daily routines, hair, and the otherworldly side of femininity. Accompanying the works of art are brief expositions written by curators, gallerists, historians, and poets. 

The exhibition highlights artists from across the state working with a wide variety of media. Some artists reimagine the possibilities of materials traditionally associated with domestic crafts such as buttons, ribbons, quilts, pillows, and wallpaper. Others engage with modern media including neon, video, and installation. Some works are overtly political. Others delight in non-representational colors and forms. The diversity in works reflects the diversity of life experiences.

The title, Claiming Space, refers to the long-overdue recognition of the underrepresentation of women in museum collections and art history as well as the expansion of this exhibition into MOWA’s permanent collection galleries. The exhibition raises timely questions about the representation of women—both on the canvas and in the art world—to promote appreciation of contemporary women artists and to inspire the next generation.

Exhibition Opening Party + 60th Anniversary Bash
Saturday, July 24 | 10:00-4:00
Location: MOWA in West Bend
Free with Membership

Celebrate MOWA's 60th Anniversary along with the exhibition openings of Claiming Space and Carey Watters: Tiny Cuts. Join us indoors and out with art and activities for all ages, plus live music with cellist Janet Schiff, light bites, and a cash bar.

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Panel Discussion | Taking InitiativeWisconsin Women's Art Collectives
Saturday, July 31 | 2:00-3:00
Location: MOWA in West Bend
Free with Membership

Representatives from woman-led art organizations discuss the origins of their collectives, the work they do, and what work lies ahead for them in Wisconsin. Panel members: Amy Cannestra (Spooky Boobs), Jody Alexander (Sisters of Creativity), Katie Loughmiller (LUNA, Heard Space). Moderated by MOWA Curator of Public Programs, Ally Wilber.

Virtual Talk | Deconstructing Narratives
Thursdsay, August 26 | 7:00pm
Free for everyone

Claiming Space exhibiting artists Niki Johnson and Valaria Tatera discuss the use of nontraditional media in their work to draw attention to political and personal themes. Moderated by MOWA Curator of Public Programs, Ally Wilber.


Expert Talk | Legacy of Mary Nohl
Saturday, August 28 | 2:00-3:00
Location: MOWA in West Bend
Free with Membership

Barbara Manger, author of Mary Nohl: Inside and Outside discusses Nohl's wide-ranging artwork and memories of the curious, accomplished Wisconsin artist. Moderated by Director of Collections, Education, and Research J Tyler Friedman.

Curator Talk | Wisconsin WomenRebels, Movers, and Shakers
Saturday, September 18 | 2:00-3:00
Location: MOWA in West Bend
Free with Membership

Director of Exhibitions Graeme Reid examines four of Wisconsin's historical artists who changed our art community by challenging and rebelling against expectations: Lydia Ely, Elsa Ulbricht, Charlotte Partridge, and Miriam Frink.