Michelle Grabner: The Inova Survey, Inova, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

Installation view

July 27 – September 23, 2012

Inova opens the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Peck School of the Arts’ Year of the Arts with two prominent UWM alumni.

Chicago-based artist, writer, teacher and curator Michelle Grabner (BFA ’84, MA ’87) presents a selection of paintings, prints, sculpture and video spanning her formidable career. Guest curated by artist and gallery director John Riepenhoff (BFA ’04), this exhibition will also include a selection of work by Grabner’s former students who have gained prominence over the years, as well as the work of five pivotal mentors and professors who have had an impact on Grabner’s artistic practice.

Grabner is currently a Professor and Department Chair at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, visiting Professor at Yale University and with her husband Brad Killam runs The Suburban (est. 1999) in Oak Park, Illinois and the Poor Farm (est. 2008) in Waupaca County, Wisconsin.

This is a twenty-year survey exhibition that spans work from the early 1990s made while Grabner was living and working with her young family in Milwaukee to new work dating 2012. A range of paintings, prints, video, and sculpture will illustrate Grabner’s investigations into the concepts of work, labor, and the aesthetics and social-dynamics of the domestic sphere. Repetition, pattern, and indexical systems of mark-making are her preferred language yet this accumulative exhibition will also feature examples of representational work less familiar to her public oeuvre. “Maturing as an artist in Pluralism, educated in the 1980’s, and fusing conceptual practices with handcrafted objects, Grabner stands firmly in the gap between past and future” writes Molly Zuckerman-Hartung in her catalog essay. She goes on to say that, “Grabner grinds her teeth at night, and holds onto at least a semblance of conviction, while relentlessly evacuating any signs of passionate intensity. In every interview she critically refers to the “lurid” color of past work, the “optical bounce,” the domestic references. Look at the history of her paintings and note the continuing effort to repress the hallucinogenic color, the wavering psychedelic opticality.”

The exhibition will also include collaborative art objects with artists Brad Killam, David Robbins, and Gaylen Gerber. And in an effort to contextualize Grabner’s practice and reach, original work by prominent artists who Grabner studied with at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Northwestern University will also be featured. In addition, the exhibition will present a selection of work by artists who have studied with Grabner as students, representing a larger picture of her influences, pedagogy and her orbit in the field of contemporary art.

Work by Grabner’s former professors and mentors, Julia Fish, Leslie Vansen, Tom Uttech, and Ed Paschke will be featured. A selection of work by exhibiting artists who have studied with Grabner including Lesley Vance, Jesse Chapman, Evan Gruzis, Andrew Falkowski, Deirdre O’Dwyer, Kelly Williams, Aliza Nisenbaum, Hilary Wilder, Fatima Haider, John Neff, Elijah Burgher, Dana DeGiulio, Alex Jovanovich, Jose Lerma, Rodney McMillian, Barry Underwood, Julie Weitz, Aaron Van Dyke, and Molly Zuckerman Hartung will also be exhibited.

In addition to this comprehensive exhibition in the Inova galleries, a full scale replica of The Suburban, Grabner and Killam’s 13 year-old artist project space located in Oak Park, Illinois will be erected in Inova’s parking garage. This architectural twin will host three shows during the run of Grabner’s survey exhibition featuring projects by artists David Robbins, Kay Rosen, and John Riepenhoff.

A catalog accompanying this survey exhibition will include republished material, new essays by Nicholas Frank and Molly Zuckerman Hartung, and a conversation between Grabner and Riepenhoff.