Lynden Sculpture Garden
Press Release

Haggerty Museum of Art Celebrates Fifteenth Anniversary of the Nohl Fellowship Program With Two New Exhibitions

Opening Reception is Thursday, June 7

By - May 30th, 2018 09:42 am

The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University opens two exhibitions celebrating artists recognized by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists program. The annual exhibition of work by the current fellows will be accompanied by an exhibition featuring work by nearly all of the ninety-six artists and collectives that have received fellowships during the program’s fifteen-year history.

Funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund and administered by the Bradley Family Foundation, the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists provide unrestricted funds for artists to create new work or complete work in progress. The program is open to practicing artists residing in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties.

The Nohl Fellowship exhibitions open on Friday, June 8, 2018 at the Haggerty Museum of Art, 1234 West Tory Hill Street, on the Marquette campus. A public opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 7, 6-8 pm.

The 2017 Nohl Fellows exhibition brings together work by Tom Berenz and Lois Bielefeld in the Established category; and three artists in the Emerging category: Sara Caron, Sky Hopinka, and Ariana Vaeth. The Fellows were chosen in November 2017 from a field of 142 applicants by a panel of three jurors: Michelle Jacques, Chief Curator, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada; Allison Peters Quinn, Director of Exhibitions & Residency Programs, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; and Gabriel Ritter, Curator and Head of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.The exhibition was curated by Emilia Layden, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Haggerty Museum of Art. This exhibition remains on view through August 5, 2018.

The Nohl Fellowship at 15 is the first of a series of exhibitions marking the fifteenth anniversary of the program. It will include a range of work by current and former fellows including: Terese Agnew, American Fantasy Classics, William Andersen, Ben Balcom, James Barany, Peter Barrickman, Emily Belknap, Tom Berenz, Lois Bielefeld, Sarah Buccheri, Tyanna Buie, Tate Bunker, Steve Burnham, Sara Caron, Cecelia Condit, Santiago Cucullu, Rose Curley, Dick Blau, Ray Chi, Paul Druecke, Waldek Dynerman, Richard Galling, Hans Gindlesberger, Neil Gravander, Gary John Gresl, Sheila Held, Zach Hill, Sky Hopinka, Jon Horvath, Michael Howard, Robin Jebavy, Juan Juarez, Michael Julian, Anne Kingsbury, Paul Kjelland, Mark Klassen, Dan Klopp, Jenna Knapp, Nicolas Lampert, Xav Leplae, Faythe Levine, Brad Lichtenstein, Erik Ljung, Sarah Gail Luther, Frankie Martin, Colin Matthes, Shana McCaw + Brent Budsberg, Jesse McLean, Kim Miller, Barbara Miner, Kevin J. Miyazaki, Jennifer Montgomery, Ashley Morgan, Joseph Mougel, Mark Mulhern, Dan Ollmann, Harvey Opgenorth, Mat Rappaport, Scott Reeder, John Riepenhoff, Maggie Sasso, Kyle Seis, Cris Siqueira, Chris Smith, Liz Smith, Special Entertainment (Bobby Ciraldo and Andrew Swant), Tim Stoelting, Fred Stonehouse, Marc Tasman, Brooke Thiele, Chris James Thompson, Sonja Thomsen, Josh Weissbach, Iverson White, Ariana Vaeth, and Jason S. Yi. The exhibition was organized by Emilia Layden and Polly Morris and remains on view through January 27, 2019. For more information on related fifteenth-anniversary exhibitions, see the
calendar at:

Each year, the Nohl exhibition invites us to consider what it means to be an artist in greater Milwaukee at a specific moment in time. The 2017 Nohl Fellows show, taking place against the backdrop of a group exhibition featuring the work of so many past fellows, inevitably elicits comparisons. One of the first significant changes we encounter is the identity of the fellows themselves. Women, frequently under-represented over the course of the fellowship’s history, make up 40% of the 2017 cohort, which also includes a genderqueer fellow. Two of the artists identify as Indigenous and African American respectively, whereas the vast majority of fellows—approximately 84%–have been white.

Yet if one compares the original group of seven fellows with this year’s class of five, some things seem consistent. Painters—figurative and abstract—predominate (there were four in 2003, and two this year). The fellowship has long favored two-dimensional and time-based media work, so it is not surprising to also find photographers and filmmakers in both groups. On the surface, at least, subject matter—some of it personal and local–seems familiar. Among this year’s fellows, friends, lovers, and close-knit communities are everywhere—just as with Dick Blau and Mark Escribano fifteen years ago. One can easily identify the people who make up Ariana Vaeth’s world in her paintings. Sara Caron, whose anti-monumental, DIY fountains might make her the most recent in a line of 3D and installation-makers, sees her work as less about objects and more about “experiments in what is needed to make a space, both visually and socially”—gathering places she creates for her community. Lois Bielefeld restages the social events she observes for her Celebration series, many of which feature friends or subjects with whom she has worked for many years over the course of several projects. Tom Berenz asserts that narratives, often personal, lurk within his abstractions.

If the 2003 fellows saw themselves working outward from the personal to the universal, this year’s fellows are unapologetic about their overt and specific references to identity. Sky Hopinka describes himself as “a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians,” and views his technique of fusing sound, image, and text into dense, layered compositions as the outward manifestation of what he finds inside himself: “strata of information, presence, confusion, and history.” The fellows do not shy away from illuminating, or making work for, their tight social circles. They are confident that announcing one’s identity—as Indigenous, or a figure painter, or a maker of communal experiences—in a time when the act of representation is highly politicized can result in a transfer of cultural knowledge or personal awareness. Karen Patterson, in her essay in the exhibition catalogue, recalls the feminist dictum “the personal is political” in connection with Mary Nohl herself. The 2017 fellows, in their canvases, photographs, videos, and karaoke nights filled with bodies–Black, brown, queer, straight–protesting, lounging, celebrating; with white feet in pink socks; with the hands of artists and musicians lifting cocktails to their lips, have each staked out their own piece of that territory.

Several additional events for the 2017 Fellows have been planned (full details in the Fact Sheet, below). The events, all of which are free, include artist talks, a panel discussion, a birthday bash (and its restaging), a bingo night, a reading, and a screening. A double catalogue, highlighting the work of the 2017 Nohl Fellows and tracing the fifteen-year history of the fellowship program, will be available for purchase at the Haggerty Museum of Art during the opening reception and throughout the exhibition.

Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Museum admission is always free. The museum will be closed July 2-8.

Presentation of the 2017 Nohl Fellows exhibition at the Haggerty Museum of Art is made possible through generous support from the City of Milwaukee Arts Board.

(Please see Fact Sheet, below, for details, and a schedule of ancillary events.)

Established Artists

Tom Berenz uses chaos as a metaphor to discuss personal, sociopolitical, environmental, and ideological issues. His abstract paintings, as Doug Singsen notes in his catalogue essay, are “full of disguised violence.” Everything from major disasters (plane crashes) to the disruption of the mundane (exploding picnics) can be a stand-in for a common anxiety, or a deeply personal reference. “Everywhere you look,” writes Singsen, “the trappings of happy memories appear to be disintegrating and dissolving like the cake in ‘November Rain.’” In the four large paintings in this exhibition, Berenz continues to use the pile as a device to explore the existential self and examine personal narratives: “A pile is everything and it is nothing. It is a mound that once was and now isn’t; a mass of information, both physical and metaphysical, organized and chaotic.”

Tom Berenz is an assistant professor in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Berenz received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2005, his MA from Northern Illinois University in 2008, and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. His paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally and have been featured in multiple publications: most notably, New American Paintings and the Huffington Post.

The Celebration series grew out of Lois Bielefeld’s love of festivity: “I want to be wherever there are balloons, pennants, and colorful party widgets.” On the other hand, celebrations can be complicated situations to navigate, fraught with dread and unforeseen collisions. The photographs in this series are in fact restagings of events she observes and documents in real time. She reviews the material, selects key interactions, expressions, and moments, and then invites everyone back to enact this essentialized version. The work in this exhibition—triptychs, diptychs, and single images from five different events–explores the tension between our idealized notion of what celebrations should look and feel like and the reality of gathering individuals to mark occasions large and small, public and private, happy and sad, simple and elaborate. As Bielefeld notes, “our expectations breed their own anxieties.” Carl Bogner, in his catalogue essay, observes that the “transparent theatricalizing” in these images exposes a fundamental resistance to classification: “Celebration, like coincidence and unlike ritual, is something that we can author, transform through authoring. By claiming a gesture—a gathering, some eating, tea pouring, or sausage-making—as celebration, we assert our own scale of evaluation and therefore our own sense of time.”

Lois Bielefeld is a series-based artist working in photography, audio, video, and installation. In 2012, she received the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship for Visual Artists as an emerging artist. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Racine Art Museum. Bielefeld has shown at the International Center of Photography, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Charles Allis Art Museum, Portrait Society Gallery, and several campuses of the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Parkside, La Crosse). Bielefeld is represented by Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee.

Emerging Artists

Sara Caron views her projects as “experiments in what is needed to make a space, both visually and socially.” She identifies a role for herself (bartender, shopkeeper) within the communities she wants to engage and support, and utilizes forms that are traditionally authorless–a bar or roadside farm stand–and quotidian materials such as ceramics, food, and drinks, inviting the confusion that arises when these forms are repurposed as art. Writer Lilly Lampe connects Caron’s practice with Gordon Matta-Clark’s generative 1970s experiment FOOD: “Matta-Clark and his collaborators wanted to make a restaurant for artists, a place for vegetarian meals and performances.” With Unknown Potters Caron tackles the act of gathering through a series of fountains—landmarks and focal points in town squares from time immemorial–made in collaboration with friends with whom she shares a studio. In her ancillary event, her nomadic bar, the Bermuda Triangle, touches down at the Haggerty Museum of Art for a bingo night. The bar’s signature beverage, the Seasnake, will be served in ceramic vessels on display in the gallery, the work of amateur ceramicists–anonymous individuals whose vessels populate the shelves of thrift shops, friends, and Caron herself.

Sara Caron (b. 1988, Chicago) graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2011. She bartends at the Bermuda Triangle, hosts Full Moon Karaoke and Variety Show, and works as the proprietor of the Poor Store. Caron has been an artist-in-residence at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee and at the Troedsson Villa in Japan. She is currently co-president of Friends of Blue Dress Park.

Sky Hopinka’s work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscape, designs of language and facets of culture contained within, and the known and the unknowable. As a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the announcement of identity is integral to his work, reflecting the “layered strata of information, presence, confusion, and history” that he finds within himself: “I am a part of these stories, as a tribal member and as the maker, and I take steps to acknowledge my presence and involvement.” Nancy Mithlo, in her essay, writes that “Hopinka enacts this homegrown Indigenous knowledge in his richly layered, complex, and mesmerizing film palettes.” Hopinka’s videos—he will screen Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2017) and three excerpts from Fainting Spells (2018) in the exhibition–layer figures and text and are dense in image and sound. Hopinka uses these tactics to question the simple movements and deeper complications of knowledge, access, and artifact, to move toward an “indescribable understanding—for the viewer and myself.” Ultimately, as Mithlo observes, the disorientation created by Hopinka’s “imperfect puzzles” reminds the viewer that “they are a stranger to this territory. We wander, we stray, he brings us back again.” Hopinka will also display a large calligram on vinyl, Situated on the East End of Devils Lake.

Sky Hopinka was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent several years in Southern California and Portland, Oregon. In Portland, he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images, Wavelengths, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sundance, Antimatter, Chicago Underground Film Festival, FLEXfest, and Projections, and was selected for the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial. He was awarded jury prizes at the Onion City Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the New Cinema Award at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.

Ariana Vaeth’s autobiographical paintings—six of them on view in this exhibition–chronicle relationships rooted in intimacy. They memorialize her interactions with the people who shape her. Working from preparatory photoshoots that capture gesture and expression, Vaeth straddles the line between participant and observer: “By including myself in the paintings, I restrict my agency: I can never fully be director or actor when building a composition but occupy both roles simultaneously.” Writer and artist Claire Stigliani traces a lineage for Vaeth that includes Mary Cassatt, Lucian Freud, and Eric Fischl. She also links her to two contemporary developments: “a fresh figurative art movement, championed by artists like Marlene Dumas and Mira Dancy, known for reimaging the female nude with electric colors and a feminist gaze” and the work of artists like Kerry James Marshall, Kehinde Wiley, and Amy Sherald who have demonstrated that “the figure has also emerged as a rich vantage point from which to explore race.”

Ariana Vaeth was raised in Baltimore and graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2017. As an undergraduate, she returned to Baltimore for an exchange program with the Maryland Institute College of Art. Vaeth recently completed an artist-in-residence program at her alma mater. She has shown her work locally, including at the Portrait Society Gallery and the Museum of Wisconsin Art at Saint John’s on the Lake, and in Chicago at Woman Made Gallery and the Museum of Science and Industry.


Haggerty Museum of Art
Marquette University
Phone: (414) 288-1669

Haggerty Museum of Art, 1234 West Tory Hill Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Museum admission is always free. The museum will be closed July 2-8.

June 8-August 5, 2018
Established Artists

Emerging Artists
Ariana VAETH

June 8, 2018-January 27, 2019

Thursday, June 7, 2017, 6-8 pm
Public opening reception

Join the Nohl Fellows, past and present, for the opening of these two exhibitions.

Nohl 2017 Ancillary Events
All events are free, open to the public, and take place at the Haggerty Museum of Art unless otherwise indicated.

Thursday, June 14, 2018, 6-8 pm

Nohl fellow Sara Caron makes work by identifying a role for herself within the communities she wants to engage and support. She considers these projects experiments in what is needed to make a space. For this event, her nomadic bar, the Bermuda Triangle, touches down at the Haggerty Museum of Art for a bingo night. The bar’s signature beverage, a non-venomous Seasnake, will be served in ceramic vessels made—like the bingo cards–by the artist.

Thursday, July 19, 2018, 6-8 pm

Nohl Fellows Ariana Vaeth and Lois Bielefeld team up for a two-part event. Vaeth, who frequently paints her friends, celebrates her 23rd birthday with them (and with cake). Bielefeld, whose current series of photographs is about celebrations, will be on hand to observe and then to restage and photograph her interpretation of the event on July 21. Spectators and participants welcome. Some participants will need to return on July 21 for the restaging.

Saturday, July 21, 2018, 2-3:30 pm

As part of her Celebration series, Lois Bielefeld re-stages and photographs scenes from Ariana Vaeth’s Birthday Bash. Spectators welcome.

Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 6 pm

In conjunction with his Nohl exhibition, Heavy Socks, Tom Berenz has organized a panel discussion on contemporary painting. Moderated by Ben Grant, the panel will include Doug Singsen (who wrote the essay on Berenz’s work in the exhibition catalogue) and others.

Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 6 pm

Language and text are integral elements in many of Nohl Fellow Sky Hopinka’s videos. This evening, he reads from a forthcoming collection of writings, What Was Always Yours and Never Lost.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 7:30 pm
UWM Arts Center Lecture Hall, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Information: (414) 229-6052 or

Ariana Vaeth, a 2017 Nohl Fellow in the Emerging category, is a representational painter focused on personal narrative. A graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Vaeth recently completed the first artist-in-residence program offered by her alma mater. Vaeth has shown her work in Milwaukee including at the Portrait Society Gallery, the Museum of Wisconsin Art at Saint John’s on the Lake, as well as in Chicago at Woman Made Gallery and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 6 pm

Reception begins at 6 pm; talk begins at 6:30 pm
The three jurors who will be selecting the five recipients of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund for Individual Artists Fellowships (2018) will give a public talk about their institutions and curatorial interests. The talk begins at 6:30 pm and is preceded by an informal reception. Jurors will be announced in the fall.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30 pm
UWM Arts Center Lecture Hall, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Information: (414) 229-6052 or

Sky Hopinka, a 2017 Nohl Fellow in the Emerging category, is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. His videos use figures and text that are layered and dense in image and sound; those tactics are used to question the simple movements and complications of knowledge, access, and artifact. His talk will consider the production of these videos and their influences using selections from his work, as well as adjacent writings, responses, and problems around their existence.

Watch for an Experimental Tuesdays screening with Sky Hopinka at the UWM Union Cinema in the autumn.


NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us