Lynden Sculpture Garden
Press Release

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund for Individual Artists Suitcase Export Fund Launches Summer Funding Cycle, June 3

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 - Jun 3rd, 2019 09:41 am

The Bradley Family Foundation, in collaboration with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), announces the summer 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 313 individual artists and eighteen artist collectives exhibiting throughout North America, and in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia. More than $186,000 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 winter cycle 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 June 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020 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 Summer Cycle opens on June 3, 2019. Approximately $7,500 will be awarded in each cycle. The guidelines are now online at, and the electronic application will open at 11 am on Monday, June 3. For those without computer access, paper applications are available from Polly Morris at or (414) 446-8794.

Artists have responded very favorably to the Suitcase Export Fund and its simple application process. The Fund contributes to the creative health of the region by supporting local artists at all career stages, from the emerging to the established; alleviating some of the financial burden faced by artists who want to exhibit their work at a distance; and by getting the work of Milwaukee artists out into the world.

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. Anja Notanja Sieger, presenting her Advice Tent outside Milwaukee for the first time, was asked to return for the next O, Miami Poetry Festival. The exposure also brought an invitation to bring the participatory performance project to a museum in Billings.

Artists take advantage of Suitcase travel to layer on residencies, meet their counterparts in other locations, or undertake research on new projects. 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. Many awardees connect with local artists, and they keep an eye out for ideas and projects that could be adapted back home. John Riepenhoff is using his exhibition in Tbilisi to showcase the work of Georgian artists. Ultimately, his studio visits may bring some of these artists to Milwaukee.

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. Her $9.6 million bequest to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is one of the largest gifts the Foundation has received from a single donor in its more than 100-year history. The Fund, by supporting local visual arts and arts education programs, keeps Nohl’s 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. These artists–three of them Nohl Fellows—work in a range of media and their exhibitions took them to Miami Florida; New York, New York; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Park City, Utah. Destinations abroad included Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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