Author: Sherry BonDurant

Alaura Megan Seidl is Making Art and Making Change

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Alaura Megan Seidl

Alaura Megan Seidl is one fascinating and busy creator and community activist. Alaura is an artist, founder of ArtWrite Collective, and teaches at the University. She even found time to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Alaura has a lot to share, so let’s get right to it!

Alaura Megan SeidlI see that you are the founder of an intriguing cooperative called ArtWrite Collective. In one sentence, how would you describe ArtWrite Collective to the community?

The ArtWrite Collective is an emerging organization of LGBTQ folks, folks of color, and womyn who are cultivating a resilient community through art.

This initiative is already doing so much–ArtWrite can’t be fully captured in one sentence! Our strategies for cultivating a resilient community include: creative youth development, activist artist development, and public aesthetic diversification. We support artists who support our community through anti-oppression work; we collaborate with local organizations in order to celebrate our community and catalyze change. Keep an eye out for summer art shows and projects around Dane County, WI!

So one of your pleasures in life is finding objects. What are some of your favorite “keepers”?mirror2

I believe that art, writing, and creative expression should be accessible for everyone in our community. This means that everyone has access to creative education and materials for creation. Often, people assume that means we need expensive gouache or fancy easels, and that absolutely is not the case. Creativity surfaces when we move, in conversations with friends, or through experimentation with the everyday objects around us. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with finding traditionally domestic objects, objects that have been discarded, or objects with visible history—ultimately, I project my own identity and experiences onto those found objects by drawing self-portraits directly onto their surfaces with inexpensive permanent markers. Paper or canvas, for me, can be costly, intimidating, and truly boring—I prefer cardboard fresh out of the dumpster, cups no longer needed by friends, and plates that have been eaten off of by a stranger.

My favorite “keepers” have been antique or vintage mirrors. I don’t own a car, so, locating and hauling these heavy mirrors back to my studio entails a certain kind of physical labor; I once walked two miles with a mirror bigger than I am in order to get it to a private space for toiling. The physicality of the projects continue through the self-portrait-drawing process. I place myself in mundane or precarious positions and repeatedly trace the lines of my body that I see in the reflection. In this sense, I consider the mirror portraits to be performance pieces that explore ability, gender expression, and the boundaries between art/craft while implicating onlookers in my story.

I read that you will be teaching a new course at the UW entitled “Art + Social Justice.” Can you share a brief synopsis of what this class will be about?

Art 448 Lab 009: Art + Social Justice is a UW-Madison Art Department course in creative grassroots activism. Art + Social Justice is open to undergraduate or graduate students of any discipline and will explore counter storytelling as a tool for social change, develop students’ narrative aesthetic for anti-oppression work, and engage in community-based projects.

What piques your interest outside of the art world and finding objects?

I care about what type of society that young people are growing up in today. Dane County, WI has profound racial disparities that the public needs to critically and innovatively address with persistence—there are local groups who have taken leadership roles in shifting the culture of institutions and policies around us, and we need a larger wave of allies to acknowledge and immediately join that movement in order to see big change today and for the generations who will follow us. Research and personal experience also show that queer and trans* folks disproportionately experience food and housing insecurity, trauma, and other health disparities in our community and across the country. These experiences can’t be overlooked. My role in all of this starts with introspective reflection but manifests in community through youth partnerships. Through projects with the ArtWrite Collective, I’ve had the joy​ of collaborating with youth groups in order to celebrate the unique talents, experiences, and voices that make up our community but who may not always be heard. Individual voice and autonomy pique my interest. Waves of impassioned voices really get me going.

Alaura Megan Seidl You did something reminiscent of Cheryl Strayed, author of the book Wild, by hiking more than 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  What did you learn about yourself on this journey?

I’ve wanted to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail since high school but have had chronic back pain stemming from a wrestling injury that made me believe I could never do it. A series of fortunate upswings in my health and some serious financial planning ultimately allowed me to walk 1,019 miles of trail, see nearly twenty bears up close, and pee (a lot) in the woods for five months last year. Although a new injury ultimately took me off trail, the journey really allowed me to grow into my body. The body can be an especially funny thing for folks with chronic pain, for queer folks, and for womyn. For me, being inundated with feelings other than back pain (exhaustion, chafing, thirst, blisters) actually helped me refocus my emotional energy on my relationships and not on how much I may hurt—because in a lot of ways, we always hurt. I still struggle with chronic pain, but now I know that I can be sore at home on the couch or be sore at the foot of a stream, laughing with friends, checking out red spotted newts, and feeling ready for whatever may come. There’s a lot of privilege that comes along with that awakening, but I am forever grateful that the hike gave me the capacity to feel and exist beyond the physical limitations of myself.

Anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?

There is no way I could do anything of value without reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships. So many folks in our community are doing creative, thoughtful, and necessary work that I wouldn’t be able to name them all. Thank you to all of you doing the hard work in your intimate circles and out in public spaces. We need all of you.

You may contact Alaura by email at

Or visit her website:


Jessica M. Pankratz

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Jessica M. PankratzJessica M. Pankratz is one of The Artery’s new artists. I actually saw Jessica’s work for the first time at a solo exhibition at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse. I was so impressed that I wanted to learn more about her and her unique style of art. Find out how Jessica gets her creative juices flowing, and more, right here.

I read that you started as an artist by writing poetry. Do you still write and have any of your poems been published?

Yes, I started writing poetry when I was 13 years old (about 22 years ago). I also started doodling cartoon characters all over my homework and notes back then. As far as if I still write, it’s rare these days. When I switched over to exploring visual art (3 years ago), the words stopped flowing out of me the way they once had. It was interesting to notice that switch in gears.

Yes, I have had poems published. When I went to school at UW-Eau Claire, there was a poetry and visual arts book called NOTA that got published every year. I had a few poems in the book for two different years. Also, one other time in a magazine/book called Poetry Motel in 2003. It’s funny, because they sent me a copy of the book that they said would have my poem in it, but it was the wrong issue so I never saw it actually published.

I also read that you are a self-taught artist. What advice would you offer to others who wish to share their creativity with the world?Jessica M. Pankratz

When I look back, there were so many times as a child, as a teenager and as an adult that I wanted to be an artist, but then would stop because I would give my power over to others to determine whether I was “good enough”. One day, after taking a good look at where this belief came from that “I wasn’t an artist” or “wasn’t good enough”, I realized that it wasn’t true. It was clearly a life changing experience, because I started seeing the world in a totally new way. It was as if I had just opened my eyes for the first time and everything was brighter, shinier and more colorful. From that moment forward, the “art” flowed out of me and wouldn’t stop:) So, I would say, realize your own power, play as much as you can when you create, let go, take risks, and listen to yourself because your art IS you, an extension of you and your unique expression. There is no right or wrong with art. That’s the beauty in it. Nobody can tell you that you did it wrong. Many people may try, but it’s your choice how you want to hear them.

Jessica M. PankratzMany of your pieces include the image of a Buddha. Is there a special meaning behind this?

I honestly can’t explain it. I feel drawn to these images like a magnet. Typically, the images I find are statues that I take photos of and then feel inspired to draw from a different angle or many angles. There may also be an underlying influence because of my spirituality/spiritual journey, but the “feeling” of being inspired is what is more present when I read this question.

Do you have a favorite place to give life to your beautiful art?

Thank you for the compliment:) Yes, I do almost all of my artwork at Mother Fool’s coffeehouse on Willy St. One of the owner’s actually made a silly ad for his Facebook page of me indicating that I “only feel creative at Mother Fool’s”. Ha ha. It was a cheesy but funny advertisement. Typically though, I feel inspired by something in the world and then feel like making the actual art at Mother Fool’s. Many people ask me to create bigger pieces, and the main reason I don’t, is because then I’d have to be holed up at home or in a studio. That doesn’t feel exciting to me:)

What are your goals for the future?Jessica M. Pankratz

Other than to create a website for my art work, I have to think about that. Right now, I feel like I’m nurturing my soul and that the next wave of artwork that’s going to come out is in a cocooning period.

See more about Jessica M. Pankratz!

Madison Artery

Deepa Sampath

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Deepa Sampath adds beauty and color to the world with incredibly vibrant paintings. Deepa is quite versatile, working with a number of different mediums. Did you know you can paint with coffee powder? Deepa has done it, and find out what else this talented artist can do right here!

Deepa Sampath


Do you generally look at an object when drawing or painting?Deepa Sampath
I prefer looking at an object, especially when I sketch, because of the detailing. In the case of painting, like landscapes, I put them in my own way.

I read that you sketch or paint on just about any surface. Do you have a favorite? Is there a surface that is more challenging than others?
Yes, I love to paint on different surfaces. My favorites to paint on are wood, egg shell, and grip mats. The challenging surface is ‘egg shell,’ because it needs careful handling techniques starting with the cleaning procedures and then painting on them.

Deepa SampathYou use an excellent array of colors in your work. Have you ever done black and white?
So far, I haven’t tried painting with black and white, but I have an idea of doing it. I also do ‘coffee painting’, a technique I practiced using coffee powder. This type of painting has just the brown color.

Deepa SampathIf you could only choose one color, what would it be? What is the first word that comes to mind with that color?
If I had to choose one color, I would go for ‘green,’ which I feel is the most attractive among all colors. Thinking about the color green, the word that first comes to me is ‘leaf.’

What are your aspirations for the future?
I have exhibited my artworks in Megan’s Custom Framing store as a part of the MMoCA Gallery night for the past two years. In the future ­ I aspire to be featured in more art galleries displaying my unique style of paintings; look forward to being an art instructor, where I can inspire people who are really interested in learning new styles of painting; and planning to be part of future art fairs conducted across Wisconsin.

Deepa Sampath


Madison Art Hub

Madison Art Hubby Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Madison Art Hub is a new space on the east side that is ready to welcome artists with open arms. In need of a place to create? They have you covered with 17 private studio rentals available. The Hub would also love to showcase your work. Want to learn more about what they can do for you? Look no further than right here, as Sher interviewed co-owner Jeff Gabriel.

What inspired you to open Madison Art Hub?
Ever since I was a teenager, my friends and I would drive past old warehouses and factories, and imagine using them as an art studio, gallery, coffee shop, or pretty much anything else for that matter. After meeting my wife several years ago, with her background in arts management, we decided it was time to do something productive with ourselves. As much as I love working on art, I know I don’t yet possess the skill to cut it as a full time artist, so erecting the Hub was our way of promoting our own development as artists and trying to help the rest of the art community.

Madison Art HubAre you and/or your wife artsy? Do either one of you have a favorite style of art?
My wife and I have always been interested in the arts; however, we both have very different styles and opinions on the matter with her being more sculptural, and myself more in tune with painting and photography. Rachael has a good eye for combining found objects and re-purposing them into something new and more interesting. I tend to focus on photography, working a lot in details and macro work.

What do you like to do outside of the art world?
Unfortunately, that implies we have any spare time. That said, when Rachael and I aren’t working, trying to organize things at the Hub, or running between other events, we actually spend most of our time at home with our two dogs.

Do you plan to host any community events?Madison Art Hub
We’ve already been putting on exhibits for artists in our gallery since our grand opening back in June. The Hub’s got several shows under its wing already, and I’m looking forward to more in the next year. Aside from that, we’ve been in contact with a few arts organizations (Project Famous for one) that have helped us hold a few workshops and events including a writer’s workshop and the “art jam” earlier this year. In the future, I’d like to start having our resident artists and myself put on classes, but I’ve been holding out this year until we can raise more awareness about the studio.

Madison Art HubWhat types of services are available to artists at Madison Art Hub, and do you charge a fee for these services?
Here at the Hub, we’ve been offering access to gallery space for artists, a communal workshop, and several individual studios. We have been charging varying fees for the spaces available, because sadly, the studio costs money to run and maintain. Additionally, there are some extra opportunities we’d like to provide in the future that we’re still working on, so I hope everyone stays posted by following our website and Facebook page.

Will the Hub be doing any exhibitions, and if so, is this service available solely to artists who live in Madison?
I plan to keep up on exhibitions as best as possible, although I expect we’ll take it a little more easy during the winter months, since turnout is always a trick with Wisconsin weather. Currently, we’ve been focused on artists in the general area, but it’s been more a matter of logistics. However, for gallerynight, we contacted Tyler Holman, an artist fresh out of Lakeland College near Sheboygan, to offer him a solo show. I have no reservations about allowing artists from outside of Madison to utilize our space, but the goal is to help promote local artists as best we can.

What kind of advice do you have for up and coming art peeps?Madison Art Hub

Although I’m far from the best person to take advice from, do not get discouraged. Whether you’re having a hard time finding receptive clients or positive feedback, do not let that slow you down in your passions. Art has so many facets to it and so many different kinds of people both working on it and backing it, that there will always be room for your work. I don’t mean to trail off, but an artist that showed with us earlier this year was very let down about the response he received to some of his pieces, and those same works ended up being the most popular in his show. So you never know what’s going to come around the corner, and you need to keep focusing and honing your skills.

In one sentence, tell Madisonians why they should check out Madison Art Hub.
Since the beginning, we have strived to help grow the art community, helping beginners and veterans become more connected to the art world, and we have every intention of doing everything in our power to continue promoting artists in their endeavors in the future.


Barb’s Fine Glass

Barb's Fine Glass

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Barb’s Fine Glass turns ordinary items into extraordinary glass pieces. Barb uses an abundance of color and her pieces are playful. She is ready and willing to create your custom design(s). With the holidays just around the corner, now is the time to have Barb create some unique gifts. Learn more about this artist right here.

Barb's Fine GlassHow did you become a glass artist and how long have you been doing it?

I have been doing stained glass for about 8 years. I had wanted to learn the process for years prior but found myself needing a reason to get out of the house as a new stay-at-home mom after my second son was born. I took a class at MATC one night a week, and I was immediately hooked. After honing my skills for years making gifts for friends and family, I finally started to believe what others had been telling me – maybe I really could sell this stuff. After a few fairly successful art shows, I formed an LLC earlier this year.

What is the process for designing fine glass and where do you create your pieces?Barb's Fine Glass

Being new to the medium, I used designs I would find in commercially available pattern books. As my mind got more creative I would start to envision designs I couldn’t find available in print or online. I study existing patterns at times and take elements I like from them and incorporate my own ideas. It is rewarding to see my skills developing as far as gaining the ability to make my ideas and visions concrete on paper and ultimately in glass.

Approximately how long does it take to produce a piece?

I offer a wide range of sizes of pieces so suit any budget, so the time I dedicate can vary considerably. I have small items I can complete in  an hour and larger items that require more time developing a pattern can be extensively time consuming.

barb1What is your greatest satisfaction with being a glass artist?

To me, the greatest satisfaction is when a customer is happy. I had a customer see a piece from across the street at an art fair and be drawn to my booth and exclaim, “It’s perfect!” Custom orders are my specialty, so being able to create a one-of-a-kind unique piece is a special feeling. I am currently in production of a beautiful butterfly designed by a melanoma survivor incorporating the cancer support ribbon. (I think the design was originally made for a tattoo) It will be a surprise for her from her boyfriend. That one will be really be a gratifying one!

What do you like to do outside of being an artist?

My life is also filled with two sons that keep me busy and a part time job outside the home in healthcare. I am an avid kayaker and take to the waters in this beautiful city two to three times a week when weather (and time) permits. Kayaking is so much more than a means of exercise to me. It’s good for the mind, body and spirit.

What is your ultimate goal with Barb’s Fine Glass?Barb's Fine Art

My experience in selling art is in its infancy. I hope to build up a customer base via online sales and art shows enough to keep me busy doing something I’m so passionate about. I’m beginning to break into the niche of recreating company logos of local businesses in glass for display in reception areas or conference rooms. I’m excited to be getting some interest in that area.

Molly Bernier’s Whimsy House

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Whimsy Pendants

Are you a lover of all things vintage? Do you strive to find that one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry or accessory? Then you need to check out Molly Bernier’s Whimsy House. Molly’s pieces are attractive, unique, and upcycled to boot. Whimsy never looked better, and find out how it all got started right here.

Check out Whimsy House’s Artery shop!

How did you become so crafty? 

I grew up with two crafty grandmothers.  One was artsy in that she liked to dabble in just about anything creative while the other was a talented quilter and cross-stitcher.  I remember being around them and loving that they were “makers.”  I loved “making” too.  I always favored art class to gym class 1 million fold!   Also, my mom is very gifted at decorating and making a beautiful home.  All of these ladies were influential to me and gave me the confidence to express myself both through Whimsy House and through my interior design business In Home Designs.  Creating is a way of life for me.  It’s very satisfying to my soul.


Do you design on paper first or just throw yourself into creating each piece? 

No paper!  No plans!  I prefer to just go for it and create on the fly.

Since your jewelry and accessories are upcycled, do you have a favorite place to pick up “supplies?”

Oh, the thrill of the hunt!  Finding my supplies is half the fun.  I scour flea markets and antique malls, garage sales and eBay.  I’m fortunate to have been creating Whimsy House accessories long enough now that many people have button jars or vintage jewelry that they pass on to me.  Nothing is better than a big jar of buttons as a gift!  Silly as it sounds to many, it’s seriously a joyful experience for me.

Why are you so inspired by vintage and do you decorate your home in that style?Pendants

Growing up with parents who loved antiques, I’ve had a life time of “antiquing” experiences which equals inspiration for me.  My mom and I owned an antiques and gift shop together in downtown Middleton for a while which was great fun.  This was years before Etsy and the awesome arts and crafts shows around today.  We searched high and low for quality handcrafted items to sell.  When we sold our shop and I started down the road of interior design, vintage style continued to inspire me.  Whimsy House was born when I took time off from interior design to be with my two young daughters, the second who was born premature and needed some extra attention.  Whimsy House became my stay-at-home-mommy creative outlet.  During this time we were also in temporary housing with very little extra space so I needed to create with supplies that didn’t take up much room.  Buttons!  We now live in an 1850’s stone house that my husband and I had gutted clean down to the 2’ thick stone walls.  It took five years to get it to the beautiful place it is now and we love it!  So yes, I definitely have a vintage inspired home.  Make that a vintage inspired life!

The cuffs are one thing that really caught my eye. Do you have a favorite when it comes to designing?

I enjoy designing my pendant necklaces best.  I love sorting through all the hundreds of buttons and piles of vintage jewelry that I have in search of the perfect combination to make something unique and new.  I sometimes ponder the past life of the buttons and supplies I use and wonder how they made it so far and into my hands.  I love making things that are one-of-a-kind, that are truly unique and as individual as my customers who wear them.1185464_10151649286243300_1591923313_n[1]

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Enjoying many of the same things I do today… my dear family and friends, cooking and eating, reading and creating.  I know my work will always revolve around one creative endeavor or another.  I would love to eek out some travel time but would guess life will still be revolving around our home and our girls (now 7 and 10) which make my heart sing every day.


Exploring the Yellow Rose Gallery

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Yellow Rose Gallery

I had the pleasure of exploring the Yellow Rose Gallery for the first time, along with chatting up the owner, Miles Kristan. Aside from the impressive pieces of art on display, I’m really fond of the gallery’s layout. There are multiple rooms, so I felt like I was in an art “house.” The gallery is warm and inviting, and I look forward to checking out one of their events. The first photo you see here is a beautiful tribute, and it will become clear why after reading the interview.

Yellow Rose Gallery's Tribute

A beautiful tribute to a friend.

When did the gallery open and what inspired you to do so?

It opened in March of 2014, and I had been wanting to open a gallery for a while for two reasons. One – it was an opportunity to help the many artists in town, and two – to honor my friend Jim (who passed away two years ago). There was an anti-war bus called the “Yellow Rose of Texas” that Jim drove across the country, which is where the name yellow rose comes from. So in a way, the gallery is to honor my friend Jim and the State of Texas.

Yellow Rose Gallery 2Do you host regular events here at the gallery?

Yes, at least one event each month. We have had as many as three events in a month.

Are you interested in a particular style of art from artists and do you have a personal favorite?

I’m a photographer, and photography is probably one of the easiest mediums to hang. The pieces are usually smaller and can be placed in different areas; however, I’m interested in having any type of medium here from prints to ceramics to 3-D objects.

I have to say that Ryan Robinson is one of my favorite artists to work with. He has done amazing things as an artist, and I’m really interested in what he is doing with Fat City Emporium.

Photography, Art, Ceramics, 3-D Objects

 How can artists get their work exhibited here and is there a fee involved?

Artists can apply at The fee ranges from $25-50 depending on the size of the art work.

Yellow Rose Gallery 4



sound sculpture piece by Enrique Rueda

Enrique Rueda Sculpts Sound

sound sculptures being playedThe space between art and music is filled

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

I was immediately intrigued when I discovered the artist I was going to interview creates sound sculptures. I wasn’t familiar with them other than what I had seen on The Artery’s website. I learned about Enrique Rueda’s passion for sound sculptures as I sat down with him in his studio. Enrique constructs striking wood sculptures that produce melodious sounds. I feel fortunate to have experienced a personal interaction with some of these beauties, and was able to create some pleasant sounds myself even though I haven’t played an instrument in years. I’m ready to see Enrique perform a live show, and I bet you will be too after reading this.

 View Enrique Rueda’s Artery Shop!

sound sculpture cello

You can purchase this gorgeous sound sculpture, “Amazon Cello” in a secure transaction via The Artery! Click on the image for more information.

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

sound sculptur

sound sculptur

How did you get started constructing sound sculptures?

Working on my Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin, I met professor “Skip” Johnson, a well-known artist in the U.S. He inspired me to use skills I already had, making all types of traditional musical instruments, and apply them to making wood sculptures. Since I am also a musician, it was easy to figure out that I wanted those sculptures to produce interesting sounds. Little by little I started identifying my work with the ideas behind Sound Sculpture as an art form, and I have been doing that for the past 30 years. Every piece I create is unique, since I don’t like to repeat a design. It takes me about 2-3 months to fully finish a piece and be happy with the outcome.


sound1What exactly is a sound sculpture and where did they originate from?

Sound sculptures as an art form, fill the space between a sculpture and a musical instrument. They are more than a sculpture because in the hands of a musician, they are capable of producing interesting sounds. They differ from musical instruments, because they are unique like sculptures, and not objects with a standard shape, as musical instruments need to be. With this in mind, we can say that the origin of sound sculpture is parallel to human development. Sound sculpture actually started when the first human groups created devices to produce sound. For example, if we look at ancient African art, we will see many interesting objects that look like musical instruments, but have a very unique shape. They can be drums, harps or flutes, but they are all different. Many other cultures all over the world have created objects like that, that we can call sound sculptures.


sound3Do people typically buy them to use as an instrument or as an art display?

Because they are sold in a gallery setting, most collectors buy them as unique sculpture pieces. I do not mind that, but I work at making them good sound makers as well, in case a curious musician wants to try them.


What motivates you during the design process?

My motivation to make the sculptures comes from my curiosity about how they will sound and how they will be played. It is something very unique to musical instruments, that they need a talented human being to extract the sound and create music. Without that they will just be sculptures or copies of sculptures. The human interaction then becomes another element of the whole design that is very interesting to me and takes my pieces into the realm of performance art.


sound sculpture piece by Enrique RuedaDid you create any pieces that you actually play?

Yes, all of my pieces can be played and produce interesting sounds. I often perform with them in openings as well as record CDs that I later sell. This is something that is very important to me. My reward for creating them is to use them. I have a few friends in town that have purchased pieces from me, and they have specifically told me that I can borrow them whenever I want for a performance. I have taken them up on their offer many times.


Is it possible for an entire band to perform using sound sculptures?

Yes, it is! I have performed live with friends all using sound sculptures, sometimes in my own openings and other times in formal concerts. We performed with the name of “Artsemble” as one of the groups for the opening of the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. We used all sound sculptures, made by me or other member of the group.


Do you still perform live and/or sell CD’s?

Yes, I perform often. I play a few traditional instruments and have two different bands with friends. One is Xtring Quartet (, we play traditional music from the Andean regions in Colombia. Also, with another band, Cuicani (, we play a variety of Latin American music, including Andean music from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile


Has anyone ever asked you to create a sound sculpture that they designed? Do you take special requests?

Yes, I build pieces on customer’s request. Not from their own design, but rather a variation of design from something I made before.

Jason Yi Installing a Piece at the MMoCA

Jason Yi Installs Wonder at MMoCA

Jason Yi Installing a Piece at the MMoCA

I had the utmost pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jason S. Yi at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Jason has been installing an exhibition entitled A Fragile Permanence, and it’s quite an astonishing site. I have never had the experience of watching an exhibition unfold and wanted to capture it “behind the scenes.” Did you know that passersby are encouraged to not only peer through the museum’s State Street windows, but are welcome to come inside and get this same amazing experience first-hand? I encourage the public to come out and explore before the finished product is unveiled on August 23, and learn a little more about the mastermind right here.

Jason Yi Piece at MMoCAHow do bystanders play a role in the creation of this art installation?

Art for me is interaction, whether it’s just observing and seeing the work and getting interpretations out of that or about revealing the process of making. When people walk into the space, some don’t actually talk to me while others engage in conversation, but they hear me talk about the work to my assistants on how to arrange and finish off a certain area. For me, the interaction is for them to get insight on how I produce the work and what I have in mind as far as my overall vision is concerned. If they want to engage in a conversation with me about the why and how, I will talk to them about that as well. The conversations are wide ranging from very practical stuff to fairly conceptual aspects about what I’m trying to do.

Do you prefer working with color or black and white?

It depends on the work. Two or three years ago I preferred not to use color, but lately I have been inserting color into my work. The reason was because of the stereotype and representation of color – color is related to emotions, mood, and so forth (red means this, green means that). I prefer a certain level of subtlety to my work. A lot of it comes from Asian landscaping, because when you look at it, it’s very minimal color or no color. I think I was influenced by that and always fascinated with how much information can be relayed with just an image that doesn’t have any color to it. More and more, I’m inserting a jarring color into what I do. Why am I doing that? Maybe it’s because I’m just evolving. I’m using orange as a practical, functioning color. There’s something about orange that attracts people, but at the same time, it symbolizes re-direction to things.

Jason Yi Installing a Piece at the MMoCA

What is your favorite activity outside of the art world?

I like traveling as much as possible. The immersion into a different culture and region rejuvenates my senses about who I am, and gives me a good bearing about what I’m wanting to do with my art work and how I want to communicate what I do to my audience. I’m interested in what artists from other parts of the world are formulating, and what they do and are influenced by. Ultimately, I would like to think that we can see creative practices happening not just in a museum or gallery setting, but all around us, and for me to witness or discover that also feeds into what I do.

What is the Pitch Project in Milwaukee all about?

I’m one of four co-directors of the Pitch Project, which is a gallery and artist studio space. We have a large gallery within the building with 22 artists who reside there in artist studios. It’s a space that tries to bring the contemporary art world outside of our region to Milwaukee as much as possible. The Pitch Project, through the gallery space, tries to expose the community of Milwaukee to artists who are in the larger outside art world. The gallery has been open for about a year now and is really an exciting space.

I want to add that people will get a special treat if they come prior to the opening while this is being put up, because it will change and they can see the fascination from day to day.


Wheelhouse Studios: a Public Playground for Artists

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery


There is an exciting new “playground” for artists called Wheelhouse Studios. The studios are located in the lower level of the newly renovated west wing at the Memorial Union.

wheelhouse studios MadisonI had the pleasure of attending a preview party, and the space is quite impressive. Wheelhouse is made up of three studios:

1)     A full ceramics studio for wheel throwing, hand building, sculpture, and more

2)     Art metals, stained glass, glass fusing, lampworking, and polymer clay jewelry

3)     Drawing, painting, printmaking, digital photography, laser cutter, and fabric arts

wheelhouse Studios Madison, WIArtists should be excited about the hours, because they will be open from noon-11pm seven days a week. UW-Madison students will have free access, and all others can purchase passes in the form of daily, weekly, monthly and annual (best value).

Daily: Union Members $4 / Non-members $5

Monthly: Union Members $15 / Non-members $25

Discounted annual passes will be available and sold at either the Wheelhouse Studios Store or online: Union Members $135 / Non-members $225

wheel6In addition, the studios will offer DIY projects, courses, drop-in events, workshops, group parties, instruction and private instruction.

I spoke with Jay Ekleberry, Director of Wheelhouse Studios, and he is very excited about sharing the facilities with the community. I asked him what he feels Wheelhouse Studios will add to the art scene – “A true art maker space with multiple media capabilities and a truly affordable open studio space.” His advice for up-and-coming artists? “From someone who is not a professional/selling artist himself, enjoy the process and don’t get hung up on the end product.”

Wheelhouse Studios opens their doors to the public on September 2, 2014; however, you can check out their website now at Think about all the possibilities….