About the Exhibition

This exhibition is open to the public at MOWA on the Lake, located inside the retirement campus of Saint John’s On The Lake in downtown Milwaukee. Learn more

For many years, Judith Friebert has focused on depicting family-owned dairy farms. As a child, she accompanied her parents—the Milwaukee artists Joseph and Betsy Ritz Friebert—on sketching trips in the countryside. They were often drawn to Wisconsin’s legendary dairy farms. The farmers were friendly, and pleased to have their land admired in this way. Years later, living in Massachusetts, Friebert began to explore this subject again. Moving back to her native state five years ago, she found similar pastoral subjects to portray, although not nearly as many as before: in the current era of corporate dairy farming, small farms struggle to survive.

Friebert aims to capture not the picturesque but, rather, essential elements of a working farm: the animals and the land that supports them. She finds cows particularly interesting, challenged by their ever-changing shapes as they appear against fields, sky, and buildings.  Pastel and charcoal are her preferred mediums, because this allows for an immediacy—applied to paper with deft, nervous lines and a subtle palette—and easy portability. She works on site, then refines and completes the drawings in her studio.

Friebert’s respect for farmers comes from a belief in the dignity of labor. They generously permit her to wander freely over their properties and share with her their concerns. Friebert tries to give back the best she can through her work and in advocating for them. She thanks her farmer friends for allowing her to make her art on their beautiful farms.

Image: Cows and Chicken Coop, 2018