Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these exhibitions are now scheduled for 2022.
Lois Bielefeld: New Domesticity
Lois Bielefeld has always been fascinated by people’s habits and personal spaces and what they reveal. The New Domesticity series arose from reading “What would Lynne Tillman Do?” by Lynne Tillman with her Milwaukee artists' book club. Each artist made new work thinking critically about Tillman’s essays. For Bielefeld, this was a series of portraits and audio interviews of the artists and their families (including her own), with the goal of asking how the idea of home and making home looks today. Since those original five portraits, Bielefeld has made portraits of over 52 families for this series.
Bielefeld’s portraits are highly collaborative. They begin with an in-depth audio interview, and result in her subjects performing or acting out domesticity within their homes for the camera in elaborate curated scenes. She is interested in the negotiation of the home space, how people are considering home and their roles within it, and the intersection between overarching cultural ideas and personal manifestations of home.
View images from this series
Comfort Wasikhongo: Bodies of Knowledge
Known for his dramatic, monumental paintings of bodybuilders, Madison artist Comfort Wasikhongo has recently turned his attention to portraits of Black intellectual leaders. Bodies of Knowledge will include a series of Wasikhongo’s canvases depicting contemporary bodybuilders alongside his portraits of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and E. Franklin Frazier. Wasikhongo describes the relationship between these disparate bodies of work in this way:
"My latest portraits are inspired by the leadership and history of three African-American men who made legacies while fighting against racism in the late 19th- and early 20th century. As I worked to capture their likeness and personality, I kept thinking about how focused, determined, and well-spoken these men had to be to define the terms of their own philosophies and to work with others toward their goals of racial uplift and social justice. As I painted these intellectual leaders and read their words, I found qualities of conviction and self-assurance that I also found in the bodybuilders I have been painting for years. In discovering their work, success, and belief in what they were doing, I have been granted a new depth of thought about the bodies, personalities, and values of these types of men."
Thanks to Wisconsin Academy donors, members, and the following sponsors for their support of these James Watrous Gallery exhibitions: