Friday, Jan. 17, marked the opening of the Wriston Art Center Galleries Winter Exhibitions. Starting at 6 p.m., the upper floor of Wriston was bustling with people enjoying refreshments and wandering the gallery to take in the new installations. One of the featured artists, Maeve Jackson, gave a talk to honor the opening. Jackson is an emerging artist from Milwaukee who works mostly in photography and videography. In preparation for this event, Assistant Professor of Art History, Curator of the Wriston Art Center Galleries and Museum Studies Interdisciplinary Area Program Director Beth Zinsli was in conversation with Jackson for almost two years, first toying with and then smoothing out the details of an exhibition here at Lawrence. Jackson began her talk in the Kohler Gallery in front of her main installation piece, a towering structure of corrugated tin that created a space for two video channels to play simultaneously. This created a natural stage where she faced a crowd of students and Appleton residents.
Jackson explained that each of the channels behind her were footage of two different residencies that she has gone to since she finished her bachelor’s degree at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2014. Both channels — one from Scheifling, Austria in 2016 and the other from Wexford, Ireland in 2019 — explore concepts of caretaking, movement and identity. She spent much of her time getting to know herself by using her experience as the subject of much of her filming. The result is a montage that mirrors itself through images of doing laundry, raking hay into piles and moving through spaces that are unfamiliar. She commented that these everyday tasks of women made her think more deeply about her place in the world and who came ahead of her to allow her that space. It also gave her the opportunity to be director, editor and performer in her own pieces. The soundtrack of musicians in residency with her became the guideline for the editing that she would do.
A different body of Jackson’s work was also shown in the slightly smaller Hoffmaster Gallery. It contains a collection of portraits that were taken in various places from her residencies and in the area around her home. She went more in depth here about the theme of her works, “To Find the Stillness in Movement.” Her use of object labels next to her photographs highlighted the movement aspect of her works, as they described where the people are from as well as where the pictures were taken. Jackson explained that she is really drawn to this idea of movement. One way she emphasized it is that the pictures were moved here to be displayed. To push that even further, the pictures were presented in frames that look like beehive screens, which means they can be once again packed away and moved. This thread of movement wove its way through all of her work in the Lawrence galleries, even down to the fact that the tube televisions showing videos of landscape were displayed in wheelbarrows they had been brought in on.
Moving into the Leech Gallery, the work of Helen Hyde was highlighted, as well as work from Bertha Lum, Lillian May Miller, Hiroshi Yoshida, Ito Shinsui, Hasui Kawase, Utagawa Hiroshige and Ishikawa Toyomasa. This exhibit, “Helen Hyde and the Japanese Print Tradition,” was an exploration of the Japanese style of woodblock printing. On the labels were details to look for within the paintings that are distinct to the style, giving viewers an opportunity to compare them to the techniques they are familiar with. The use of technique varied slightly from one to the next, but overall this exhibit was a collection representing the female American artists that have more recently taken up this process of printmaking as well as the Japanese artists that have influenced them from the past.
The Wriston Center Art Galleries are open to the public, and these exhibits will be available to explore throughout the rest of Winter Term.