About the Exhibition

Deeply personal works reflect the diversity of life experiences

July 24–October 3, 2021


A 60th anniversary exhibition showcasing 30 contemporary Wisconsin artists working with a wide variety of media touching on themes of motherhood, family, the body, hair, and more.

In 1961, Melitta Hedwig Suder-Pick joined a select group of visionary American women who founded art museums, gifting to future generations institutions such as 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 enterprising founder with an exhibition featuring Wisconsin’s current crop of visionary women. Thirty artists contribute deeply personal works that touch on themes of motherhood, family, the body, life during the pandemic, daily routines, hair, and the mystical, intuitive side of femininity. Brief texts written by curators, gallerists, historians, and poets accompany the works of art.

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 industrial media including molded Plexiglas and video. Some works are overtly political. Others delight in nonrepresentational compositions of colors and forms. The artistic diversity 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 the art historical record. It is also a reference to the extension of this exhibition into MOWA’s permanent collection galleries. The exhibition raises timely questions about the representation of women—both in the objects themselves and in the art world generally—to promote appreciation of contemporary women artists and to inspire the next generation.

Support for 60th Anniversary Year exhibitions
generously provided by

James and Karen Hyde

Thomas J. Rolfs Family Foundation

Pick Heaters and Prudence Pick Hway

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

Horicon Bank

Beth Ramsthal

Bob Ramsthal

RDK Foundation