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Milwaukee Art Museum Presents Remains: Contemporary Artists and the Material Past
Beth Lipmann, Still Life with Metal Pitcher, 2007; glass/wood/mixed media 85 x 103 x 96 inches. Courtesy Heller Gallery, New York.

MILWAUKEE, WI.- Three midwestern artists explore the dreams, fantasies, and memories that people project onto material objects in Remains: Contemporary Artists and the Material Past, on view February 12–June 7 in the Decorative Arts gallery at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Beth Lipman, Sarah Lindley, and BA Harrington breathe life into historic forms through their new work, collectively raising questions about the lingering lifecycle and hidden meanings of things in our homes. The occasion brings the artists to the Museum for an
opening night roundtable on Thursday, February 12.

Installed on the Museum’s lower level, Remains is juxtaposed with the diverse holdings of the American Collections galleries, where objects are explored through transdisciplinary scholarship and a number of artistic interventions in order to bring diverse viewpoints and interpretive possibilities to the study of early American decorative arts.

Beth Lipman’s monumental sculpture Still Life with Metal Pitcher presents a dining table covered in some four hundred hand-blown vessels, each of which is a transparent rendering of a historic form. Lipman loosely bases her compositions on Dutch still-life paintings, drawing parallels between the golden age of Holland and today’s era of mass consumerism. She is the coordinator of the artist-in-residence program at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan.

Sarah Lindley’s chests and cabinets are haunting skeletal re-creations of eighteenth-century furniture, built of high-fired porcelain. Stripped of all decoration, these white, fragile forms reveal the uncertainty that underlies the domestic interior. Lindley is Assistant Professor of Art at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. Trained as a ceramicist, she has spent her career transforming clay into unconventional forms.

BA Harrington probes sexual metaphors lurking in old dowry chests in her installation, Lineage, which combines the artist’s hand-crafted cabinetry with her own textile work and video projections by collaborator Chele Isaac. Courting some confusion, the overlays and open panels in Harrington’s work expose once-hidden contents to undermine the authoritarian elements of solid forms. Harrington is a candidate for an MA in art history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She received her MFA in woodworking in 2007.

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