Lynden Sculpture Garden
Press Release

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund for Individual Artists Suitcase Export Fund Launches Seventeenth Funding Cycle

The Suitcase Export Fund is open to practicing artists residing within the four-county area who want to export their work beyond the area for public display.

By - Dec 3rd, 2019 10:31 am

The Bradley Family Foundation, in collaboration with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), announces the seventeenth funding cycle of the GMF’s Mary L. Nohl Fund for Individual Artists Suitcase Export Fund. Created to help visual artists with the cost of exhibiting their work outside the four-county area (Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington counties), the Fund is designed to provide greater visibility for individual artists and their work as well as for greater Milwaukee. To date, the Fund has supported a diverse group of 325 individual artists and eighteen artist collectives exhibiting throughout North America, and in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia. More than $193,000 has been awarded to artists working in a variety of media, from film to ceramics. They include well-established artists as well as those at the start of their careers. A special effort has been made to support Nohl Fellows as they exhibit work made during their fellowship year. (See below for a list of 2018 awardees.)

The Suitcase Export Fund is open to practicing artists residing within the four-county area who want to export their work beyond the area for public display. Priority is given to artists with exhibitions outside of Wisconsin. The Fund provides support in two areas: transportation of the work (packing/shipping/insurance) and transportation of the artist. The maximum grant available to an individual is $1,000. Funding is only provided for upcoming opportunities (exhibitions or screenings commencing between December 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020 for the Winter Cycle; similar opportunities commencing between June 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021 for the Summer Cycle).

The Suitcase Export Fund opens twice a year, disbursing awards in response to demand until the funds for each cycle are exhausted. The Winter Cycle opens on December 2, 2019, and the Summer Cycle will open on June 1, 2020. Approximately $7,500 will be awarded in each cycle. The guidelines are now online at, and the electronic application opened at 11 am on Monday, December 2. For those without computer access, paper applications are available from Polly Morris at or (414) 446-8794.

In addition to selling work, meeting artists and collectors, or beginning relationships with galleries, awardees encountered a range of benefits. Being present at openings, exhibition venues, and screenings has consistently created opportunities for artists: future collaborations; plans for artist and curatorial exchanges with the host city; the essential contacts filmmakers require to get their work in front of an audience.

Several artists were presenting work for the first time outside the state. Anja Notanja Sieger, presenting her Advice Tent outside Milwaukee for the first time, was asked to return for the next O, Miami Poetry Festival. Rosy Petri met with curators from two institutions–the Negro League Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum–in Kansas City while in the city for her exhibition to talk about exhibition opportunities. Skully Gustafson, whose solo show in France took him on his first trip to Europe, made many works on paper and visited museums and galleries while there.

Artists take advantage of Suitcase travel to layer on residencies, meet their counterparts in other locations, or embark on new projects. They hone the skills required to navigate the profession: taking work through customs, booking venues, preparing to make work on site in a new city, gaining a firmer understanding of what is reasonable to promise organizers, presenters, and gallerists. Veteran artists extend their networks and are sometimes tapped for their expertise: Rina Yoon, an established artist, was invited to do a studio visit with a current Jerome Fellow (the program serves emerging artists) when she was in Minneapolis for her exhibition; she also received invitations for future exhibitions, a visiting artist position, and an artist collaboration. According to Kristina Rolander, who makes her work on site, her experience in Canada “was a huge learning experience for me, regarding the scale of my work and what can be realistically accomplished in a tight timeframe.” Hannah Hamalian organized a tour of her film and animation work around residencies in Ireland and Wales. Lenore Rinder used some of her time in India to shoot footage with her local crew for a new film on tiger poaching and conservation.

Residencies enable artists to meet and spend time with colleagues from across the country or around the world; as Makeal Flammini noted, the tangible benefit was “securing relationships with artists from different places” (she also cited perspective and motivation as benefits). For Maeve Jackson, who was returning to a residency after three years, it was an opportunity to resume relationships with artists scattered around the world. Being able to travel “to the places where other artists collect,” she observed, “has a huge impact on my artistic practice and artwork. Knowing that I have support and encouragement coming from outside my home base is amazing and strengthens me.”

Many awardees connect with local artists, and they keep an eye out for ideas and projects that could be adapted back home. John Riepenhoff used his exhibition in Tbilisi to showcase the work of Georgian artists. Ultimately, his studio visits may bring some of these artists to Milwaukee. Kristina Rolander made a point of talking about Milwaukee when she was interviewed in Sudbury, Ontario: “I consider myself as somewhat of an ‘art ambassador’ for our city every time I travel to and work in Canada.”

A special effort is made to support Nohl Fellows as they disseminate work made during their fellowship year. Cris Siqueira, whose film, Ape Girl, was funded in part by a Nohl Fellowship, was able to use a Suitcase Award to attend the five-screening premiere in São Paulo. Both grants “have been fundamental for this project and my artistic practice in the last few years.” She described the Suitcase, in particular, as “a wonderful opportunity to ease the financial burden of getting work shown away from Milwaukee.”

Finally, the Suitcase can provide life-changing experiences. Gabrielle Tesfaye, who is of Ethiopian origin, built a month-long visit to Ethiopia around her screening of recent and in-progress work at the Alliance Éthio-Francaise Cinema in Addis Ababa. She summed up the impact these opportunities can have on artists and the communities that surround them: “I feel it is important for artists to pursue deeply moving experiences such as these, as they in turn provide the artist with inspiration and life-changing ideas that may then offer the tools or their art to be community-changing.”

Artist Mary L. Nohl of Fox Point, Wisconsin, died in December 2001 at the age of 87. She left a $9.6 million bequest to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. Her fund supports local visual arts and education programs, keeping her passion for the visual arts alive in the community.

In the first half of the sixteenth cycle, the Fund made thirteen awards, providing assistance with shipping and travel to thirteen individual artists, two of whom worked on the same project. In the second half, the Fund made twelve awards, all to individuals. These artists–five of them Nohl Fellows—work in a range of media and their exhibitions took them to Carbondale, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Portland, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; New York, New York; Charlotte, North Carolina; Brownsville, Texas; and Park City, Utah. Destinations abroad included Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Debra Brehmer will create daily drawings during a one-month residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle in Assisi, Italy that will become part of the International Collective Exhibition of works produced by the artists and writers attending the residency during the past year. She will also engage local populations in the Portrait Society’s (her Milwaukee gallery) nonprofit sketchbook project, On the Wing.

HIJOS (Children of the Disappeared) invited Brian Carlson to install his memorial to the disappeared in Latin America, Aparecidos, at ex(ESMA), formerly a notorious detention and torture center and now a Museum of Memory in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The installation now includes more than 3000 painted portraits of victims of state terrorism in Latin America.

Kyoung Ae Cho brought two works to Minneapolis for Silver Jubilee, an exhibition celebrating the Textile Center’s 25th Anniversary. The exhibition featured eleven artists who have made significant and unique contributions to the field of fiber art over the past quarter century.

Christopher Davis Benavides was invited to participate in American Clay 2019, an exhibition held in the Sala de Exposiciones Roman Zaldivar during the XI Feria Nacional de Alfareria y Cermanica in Navarette, Rioja, Spain. Davis Benavides will also conduct a three-day workshop and deliver an artist lecture.

Makeal Flammini (Nohl 2018) brought her husband and two small children to the family-friendly Hotel Pupik in Schrattenberg, Austria, for a two-week residency that culminated in a public exhibition. Flammini created 20 drawings and paintings and two performances, and shared a studio with a long-time artist colleague based in Europe.

Sæter Jørgensen Contemporary, a non-profit gallery and nomadic curatorial practice focused on realizing projects in Norway and France, invited Skully Gustafson to participate in a solo exhibition in the Gaillac region of the Tarn in France. For Le mouton à cinq pattes, the artist showed portable works on paper, and sold several.

Hannah Hamalian took her film and animation work on a solo screening tour in the United Kingdom and Ireland. As part of her tour, she participated in residencies at Greywood Arts in Killeagh, Ireland, and at Createspace in Cardigan, Wales.

Maeve Jackson created work onsite during a residency at Hotel Pupik in Schrattenberg, Austria that became part of the three-day group exhibition at its culmination.

Director Brad Lichtenstein (Nohl 2011) and co-producer Madeline Power took Ashe ’68, a virtual reality short film about tennis champion Arthur Ashe, to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. They participated in the New Frontier section as part of the VR Cinema exhibition.

Kim Miller (Nohl 2009) screened a new work, ReWilding (2019), as part of an artist residency at the Performing Arts Forum in St. Erme, France. Initiated and run by artists, theoreticians and practitioners themselves, PAF is a user-created, user-innovative informal institution and all public events are open to the local population.

Melissa Mursch was one of eleven women artists featured in Soft Somethings, a group exhibition at the University of Texas Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas. Mursch is submitting soft sculptures/wall hangings that explore her experiences as a racially ambiguous queer woman. She will travel to Austin and Houston to meet other artists and to see where her grandfather grew up as she prepares to make a new body of work.

Rosy Petri was represented by six textile works in a group exhibition hosted by the Black Archives of Mid-America and held in conjunction with the National African American Quilting Convention. This was Petri’s first exhibition outside Wisconsin, and she took advantage of her time in Kansas City, Missouri to visit the Negro League Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum to discuss works for their collections.

John Riepenhoff (Nohl 2009, 2014) travels to Tbilisi, Georgia, to stage an iteration of Handler, an exhibition of sculptures of legs that support paintings by other artists at Project ArtBeat. The opening of the exhibition coincides with the city’s contemporary art fair. Riepenhoff, who runs the The Green Gallery in Milwaukee, will also do studio visits with local artists.

Lenore Rinder screened her 2018 documentary, People of the Wild Tiger, at the Indian Institute of World Culture in Bangalore during Conservation Week. The film focuses on the people who live and work as naturalists and ecologists to save India’s endangered tigers in Karnataka; she remained in India for a month to pursue new collaborations with her Indian cast and crew.

Kristina Rolander traveled to Sudbury, Ontario, to create a multi-use and immersive installation for Up Here, an independent urban art and music festival. Each summer, Up Here brings together dozens of muralists, musicians, and installation artists to transform the city’s downtown. Rolander’s installation, within the foyer of the Grand Theatre, was a life-size diorama with hand-painted backdrops, hanging elements, sheer fabrics, and environmental structures that transformed from day into night.

Nicole J. Shaver drove her work to Charlotte, North Carolina, for Homeward Bound, a group exhibition she curated at Goodyear Arts, a nonprofit multi-arts space.

Anja Notanja Sieger produced the fifth iteration of her Advice Tent project–its first foray outside Milwaukee–at the O, Miami Poetry Festival in Florida. She trained twenty local teens to offer advice to visitors.

Cris Siqueira (Nohl 2013) attended the premiere of her documentary, Ape Girl—a film supported by her Nohl Fellowship—in São Paulo, Brazil. The film screened five times to full houses at two venues. The success of the premiere acted as a spur to distribution in both Brazil and the United States.

Roy Staab was invited to exhibit photographs, video, and new site-specific work in conjunction with his Proyecto en Sitio residency at La Coyotera Taller-Estudio in Umecuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. For the residency, he created site-specific outdoor work, as well as a work with native sunflowers in the gallery. This was Staab’s first exhibition in Mexico.

Hungry Gardens, Tori Tasch’s solo exhibition at the Portland Art Center in Portland, Indiana, included 30 wall panels, four silk panels hung from the ceiling, and books. She offered workshops and a gallery talk that focused on sustainable art making practices.

Gabrielle Tesfaye screened her latest film, The Water Will Carry Us Home, and previewed her next film, Yene Fikir, Ethiopia, at the Alliance Éthio-Française in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She also facilitated community discussions about her new work, taught a stop-motion animation workshop, and gave an artist talk connecting her cultural storytelling to ancient and contemporary Ethiopian art practices.

Shane Walsh shipped several large paintings to New York City for his solo exhibition at the Asya Geisberg Gallery. He followed to install them and attend the opening.

Michael Ware was in Colorado, for the opening of Clay National XIV Nature Reconsidered: Reimagining the Natural World through Ceramics, the annual juried exhibition at the Carbondale Clay Center. His work was included in the exhibition.

Rina Yoon exhibited a large installation work in With Through and Beyond: Celebrating the 20th Year of the Women’s Art Institute, a twelve-artist invitational exhibition at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

For more than a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community, during their lifetimes and for future generations. The Foundation consists of more than 1,300 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable causes of their choice. The Foundation also deploys both human and financial resources to address the most critical needs of the community and ensure the vitality of the region. Established in 1915, the Foundation was one of the first community foundations in the world and is now among the largest.

For further information about the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists program and Suitcase Export Fund, please visit

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. While it is believed to be reliable, Urban Milwaukee does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

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