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.