April 7, 2018 - John Michael Kohler Arts Center - Unseen Forces
April 7, 2018

John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Installation view of Funk Dreamscapes from the Invisible Parallel Universe: Renée Stout at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2018. Courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center. 

Unseen Forces
A series of five exhibitions

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
608 New York Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11am–4pm,
Thursday 11am–7pm

T +1 920 458 6144
F +1 920 458 4473

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Unseen Forces considers various ways that fiction, myth, discovery, identity and belief influence contemporary art practices and our experience of the world. This series of five exhibitions is on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center through September 2.

Three exhibitions in the series feature original installations by Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck, Iris Häussler and Renée Stout. Reinstallations of works by Emery Blagdon and Stella Waitzkin, drawn from the Arts Center’s unparalleled collection of art environments, round out the series and offer new interpretations of this unique style of art making.

Out, Out, Phosphene Candle: Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck
Through September 2, 2018

Employing Arthur C. Clarke's third law—“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"—Feasley and Swenbeck contemplate the impact an unknowable future has on humanity in their immersive installation.

From the perspective of a mysterious alien creature observing humanity from afar, the Philadelphia-based artists examine truth, mysticism, belief and scientific testing in a large-scale multi-room installation. Components were created by the artists during their residency with Arts Center’s Arts/Industry program in the foundry of Kohler Co.’s factory. Out, Out, Phosphene Candle also includes works by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and Levi Fisher Ames from the Arts Center’s collection, work created in collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia), and objects on loan from Independence Seaport Museum (Philadelphia) and the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia).

Tale of Two: Iris Häussler
Through August 19, 2018

Known for her elaborate, narrative installations involving both fictitious characters and historic facts, Toronto-based artist Iris Häussler raises issues regarding truth, art and identity. For her first Wisconsin-based installation, Häussler explores the story of Florence Hasard, a character introduced in Häussler’s recent “Sophie La Rosière Project.”

Tale of Two presents ideas and speculations about life in Wisconsin for Hasard. Hasard’s artwork, archival material from the Layton School of Art and dolls made during the Wisconsin Handicraft Project help to build the narrative. In addition, interviews with regional experts, historical memorabilia and artist ephemera aid in the portrayal of this character.

Funk Dreamscapes from the Invisible Parallel Universe: Renée Stout
Through August 5, 2018

Stout's multimedia installations often include materials traditionally used in folk medicine practices. She employs potions, roots and herbs, found objects, bones and feathers along with painted and sculptural elements to create complex narratives around characters conceived by the artist. Funk Dreamscapes from the Invisible Parallel Universe features psychic Fatima Mayfield, Stout’s alter ego, and the tools Mayfield uses to tap into an alternative universe in her journey of self-discovery.

The Healing Machine: Emery Blagdon
Through July 1, 2018

This presentation of Blagdon’s (1907–1986) “Healing Machine” includes an evocation of the entire shed that the artist built from the 1950s through the ’80s in rural Nebraska. Blagdon probed the boundaries of evidentiary science in this dense art environment that arose from a fascination with electrical forces and a belief in their curative powers. In addition to his sculptures made of baling wire, aluminum foil, hand-painted lightbulbs, salts and other organic matter, the gallery features never before exhibited paintings by Blagdon.

Lost Library: Stella Waitzkin
Through May 20, 2018

With enigmatic cast-resin books acting as stand-ins for aspects of Stella Waitzkin’s (1920–2003) biography, Lost Library explores the impact that place can have on one’s self-discovery. Several of the artist’s large-scale works from her Hotel Chelsea apartment environment anchor this exhibition, including The Wreck of the UPS and Details of a Lost Library.  This presentation expands on the scope of work exhibited in the Arts Center’s 2017 series The Road Less Traveled.


Unseen Forces is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, Kohler Foundation, Inc., and the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
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