An unusual combination of art exhibitions recently opened at the Wriston Art Center. Currently, the three galleries house an unlikely juxtaposition of propaganda art, nearly non-objective color forms and a series of steel sculptural pieces. In the first gallery, an exhibit entitled “Propaganda in the Permanent Collection” is the product of an art history class on propaganda. Students selected and researched a piece of persuasive art from the private collection, which consisted mostly of World War I era posters, paintings, and etchings. Plaques alongside pieces in the show display information written by students about their chosen works.
One particularly striking poster by Joseph Pennel, entitled “That Liberty Shall Not Perish From the Earth,” shows the Statue of Liberty and the city of New York behind it, in flames after being bombed by German planes.
Milwaukee artist Arianna Huggett’s series of painted plaque-like forms is on display in the second gallery. “Arianna Huggett: Color Forms,” consists of a series of plaques and wall hangings that resemble domestic objects, painted with brightly-colored acrylic in patterns that resemble optical illusion designs.
Wriston Art Center Galleries curator Frank Lewis explains, “Huggett started using the kind of plaques you can buy at craft stores, then became interested in the effects of how designs interact. She uses shapes and colors almost as optical illusions and emphasizes how one color plays off another.”
The third gallery houses a variety of steel sculptural forms. Entitled “Kim Cridler: Assuage,” the works are ornately wrought steel constructions whose graceful and organic flora and fauna motifs are reminiscent of the kinds of still-life oil paintings executed in the renaissance. In one piece, Cridler even incorporates a combination of whole eggshells and pale green satin to create a vessel-like steel structure hung with fragile ornaments. Lewis comments, “Cridler’s sculptures are about the way the art process itself freezes and makes something permanent and important. The works are literally human size, and her sculptures reconfigure how we look at things in space.
Cridler is the coordinator of the Kohler Company’s Arts Industry Program, in which the company supports artists by supplying them a space within which to work and access to certain tools and machines.