Tawney’s studio environment on view – Kohler Arts Center’s Art Preserve

Lenore Tawney Installation
Objects from the Lenore Tawney Collection displayed at the Art Preserve, Sheboygan, WI. John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection, gift of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation and Kohler Foundation Inc.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center worked closely with the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation to acquire hundreds of key components from the artist’s last studio environment in 2019, with assistance from Kohler Foundation, Inc. The 486-piece collection includes artwork, collages, assemblages, furniture, and supplies.

An installation of Tawney’s studio environment is on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Art Preserve, which opened in 2021 and provides the public and researchers year-round access to an unparalleled collection of art environments that now includes works by more than 30 artists.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center: 608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan, WI
Art Preserve: 3636 Lower Falls Road, Sheboygan, WI

Free admission at both locations

Art Preserve

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe featured in the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival

Movie poster for Lenore Tawney - Mirror of the Universe
Image Credit: Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe documentary poster. Designed by Monica Lazalier, 2020.

The Milwaukee Film Festival starts Thursday October 15, and this year’s lineup includes the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s short documentary Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe. The festival is being held virtually this year, so the 197 selected films will be streaming online October 15-29. The documentary features interviews with collaborators from the Mirror of the Universe exhibition series and accompanying publication: Glenn Adamson, Indira Allegra, Julia Bland, kg, Judith Leemann, Anne Lindberg, Kathleen Nugent Mangan, Michael Milano, Karen Patterson, Sheila Pepe, Mary Savig, Shannon R. Stratton, and Florica Zaharia. It was directed by Valerie Lazalier and Andrew Swant.

For additional information about the film and the festival, see Milwaukee Film Festival.

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe receives 2019 George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe has been recognized by the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) for excellence in art publishing. Karen Patterson, curator at the Fabric Workshop and Museum and former senior curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, accepted the 41st Annual George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award. A video presentation of the award is available on the ARLIS/NA website.

Established in 1980, the Wittenborn Award honors the memory of George Wittenborn, a premier New York art book dealer and publisher who was a prominent supporter of the Society in its formative years.

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe is the largest survey dedicated to the artist, examining her work and influence over the course of her 100-year life. This extensive catalogue accompanied an ambitious program of four exhibitions mounted at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Published in association with The University of Chicago Press, the publication was the product of a distinguished group of contributors: Glenn Adamson, Kathleen Nugent Mangan, Karen Patterson, Mary Savig, Shannon R. Stratton, and Dr. Florica Zaharia. As the first extensive survey of Tawney’s artistic output in nearly three decades, the catalogue serves as an overdue and welcome reassessment of this important artist’s oeuvre and influence.

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe to open at John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Lenore Tawney in her Chicago studio, 1957. Photo by Aaron Siskind.

A series of  four exhibitions explores Lenore Tawney’s life and impact, offering a personal and historical view into her entire body of work.

Lenore Tawney’s studio, 1985. Photo by Paul J. Smith.

In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney (October 6, 2019 – March 7, 2020) anchors the series with an evocation of Tawney’s studio underscoring the relationship of the artist’s space to her creative practice. This exhibition reunites over 120 key works—weavings, drawings, collages and assemblages—with art and artifacts from Tawney’s highly personalized studio environment, revealing her processes and inspirations, and dissolving boundaries between the material surroundings she constructed for herself and the work she produced.

Lenore Tawney, Windows, 1985.

Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archives of Lenore Tawney (September 15, 2019–February 16, 2020) explores correspondence, journals, artist books, photographs, audio interviews, and ephemera drawn from manuscript collections at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation. Tawney’s papers do not merely reflect her artistic legacy; they reveal her complex—and at times contradictory—identities as an artist, friend, woman, reader, wife, thinker, collector, weaver, sculptor, traveler, and seeker.  More than a repository of materials documenting her life, Tawney’s archive is also a landscape she cultivated as a daily log of inspiration for her art. 

Even Thread Has a Speech, installation view.

Even Thread Has a Speech (September 1, 2019–February 2, 2020) is a group exhibition exploring Tawney’s lasting impact on eight contemporary fiber artists with new, site-specific installations commissioned by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center as well as two- and three-dimensional works. From crocheted installations to macramé sculptures, video, assemblage, and performance, the works echo Tawney’s visual language of abstraction and the desire to communicate without sending specific messages. Artists in the exhibition include Indira Allegra, Julia Bland, Jesse Harrod, Judith Leemann, Anne Lindberg, Michael Milano, and Sheila Pepe.

Lenore Tawney, Cloud Labyrinth, 1983.

Cloud Labyrinth (August 18, 2019–January 19, 2020 fills an entire gallery with a work originally created for the Lausanne International Tapestry Biennale in 1983.  This monumental piece exemplifies the evolution of Tawney’s practice while maintaining an unmistakable connection to weaving. Accompanying the installation will be an ongoing screening of the film Cloud Dance (1979) in which dancer and choreographer Andy De Groat improvises movement in response to Tawney’s Four-Armed Cloud at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe is accompanied by a new 304-page monograph of the same name, co-published by The University of Chicago Press, which, through new scholarship, sheds light on Tawney’s enduring and multifaceted impact on contemporary art.

Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 to open at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Lenore Tawney, Four Petaled Flower II, 1974.

Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (November 22, 2019 –January, 2021) provides new perspectives on subjects that have been central to the artists in the display, including abstraction, popular culture and feminist aesthetics. The works reveal how craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is crucial to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art.

Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s permanent collection, the exhibition will include works by Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, Erin Jane Nelson, and Mickalene Thomas.

Weaving Beyond the Bauhaus on view at the Art Institute of Chicago

Lenore Tawney, The Bride Has Entered, 1982.

Established in 1919, acclaimed German art school the Bauhaus was home to an innovative weaving workshop whose influence stretched across the Atlantic.

Like the larger institution, the weaving workshop embraced the principal of equality among artists and the arts alike. Although the realities of the Bauhaus never quite matched its utopian vision, the workshop nonetheless served as an effective incubator of aesthetic and pedagogical talent. In the decades following the school’s forced closure in 1933, the Bauhaus went on to have a wide-reaching impact on American art—due in part to the large number of affiliated artists who immigrated to the US, where they continued to practice and teach in the spirit of the school’s educational system and theories.Weaving beyond the Bauhaus (on view through February 17, 2020)  traces the diffusion of Bauhaus artists, or Bauhäusler, such as Anni Albers and Marli Ehrman, and their reciprocal relationships with fellow artists and students across America. Through their ties to arts education institutions, including Black Mountain College, the Institute of Design, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Yale University, these artists shared their knowledge and experiences with contemporary and successive generations of artists, including Sheila Hicks, Else Regensteiner, Ethel Stein, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler, shaping the landscape of American art in the process.