May 12, 2019 - John Michael Kohler Arts Center - Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
May 12, 2019

John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Lenore Tawney, untitled (detail), 1961. Rayon and wool, 63 x 22 3/8 inches. Courtesy of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
Four-Exhibition Series to Explore the Artist's Life, Impact, and Work
October 8, 2019–March 7, 2020

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
608 New York Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081
United States
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Lenore Tawney (1907–2007), a pioneering American artist who created a body of innovative woven work that helped to shape the course of fiber art during the second half of the 20th century, was known for her monumental sculptural weavings as well as drawings, collage, and assemblage. Her life’s work will be the subject of a concurrent four-exhibition series, Mirror of the Universe, October 6, 2019–March 7, 2020 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC).

With work by the artist dating from 1946-1997, this series represents the most comprehensive presentation of Tawney’s ouevre since 1990. In conjunction with the series, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center will publish an in-depth monograph dedicated to the artist, the first in three decades.

Improvisational, experimental, and deeply personal, Tawney’s work redefined traditional notions of weaving as she worked with fiber to create abstract sculptural forms and complex woven structures. The complete integration of her art and her life was reflected in the ethereal interiors of the series of New York City lofts she occupied from the late 1950s until her death in 2007. The highly-personal environments she constructed in her studios is a major focus of the series.  

Mirror of the Universe will consider the many aspects of her creative practice in collaboration with the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The series, including the anchor exhibition In Poetry and Silence, is curated by JMKAC’s senior curator Karen Patterson.  Series collaborators include Glenn Adamson, senior scholar at the Yale Center for British Art; Kathleen Nugent Mangan, director of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art; and independent curator Shannon R. Stratton.

In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney
October 6, 2019–March 7, 2020

Retrospective in nature, this exhibition includes over 100 works of art, including weavings, drawings, collage, and assemblages. An evocation of Tawney’s studio, replete with art by friends, books, and collectibles acquired in travels, complements the exhibition. The contents of Tawney’s studio were recently acquired from the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation with assistance from Kohler Foundation, Inc. This installation demonstrates JMKAC’s ongoing commitment to the preservation and presentation of artist-built environments.

Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archives of Lenore Tawney
September 15, 2019–February 29, 2020

Tawney developed a deeply personal visual vocabulary intertwining language with found images, feathers, flowers, and stones. The exhibition, curated by Mary Savig, presents Tawney’s correspondence, journals, artist books, photographs, and other ephemera.

Even Thread Has a Speech
September 1, 2019–February 2, 2020

This group exhibition curated by Shannon R. Stratton focuses on Tawney’s lasting impact on eight contemporary fiber artists with new, site-specific work—from crocheted installation to macramé sculpture, video, assemblage, and performance—that echoes Tawney’s visual language of abstraction. Artists in the exhibition include Indira Allegra, Julia Bland, Jesse Harrod, Judith Leemann, kg, Anne Lindberg, Michael Milano, and Sheila Pepe.

Cloud Labyrinth
August 18, 2019–January 19, 2020

Cloud Labyrinth (1983) comprises thousands of individual threads, suspended from a canvas panel, that respond to any atmospheric movement with a slight swaying. Filling an entire gallery, the presentation allows full appreciation of the work as an apotheosis of Tawney’s decades-long career.

The Art Preserve
The work of Lenore Tawney, explored through an evocation of her studio environment, will be on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Art Preserve, which is scheduled to open in August of 2020. The Art Preserve will be the world’s first museum to focus entirely on work from artist-built environments.

About the John Michael Kohler Arts Center
The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was founded in 1967. Central to its mission is promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists. Since the 1970s, JMKAC has preserved, studied, and exhibited components from artist-built environments and has earned a worldwide reputation for its work in this area.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
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