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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Museum of Wisconsin Art Recognizes Truman Lowe

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Truman Lowe’s artistic legacy branches out from northern Wisconsin—Black River Falls, to be specific. In this scenic town, sculptor Lowe grew up in the Ho-Chunk community and attended Black River Falls Mission School. Lowe’s heritage has influenced his renowned artwork and professional teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In recognition of his illustrious career, the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA) presents the exhibition “Truman Lowe: Limn” beginning March 17.

Lowe’s parents, who created split-plait baskets, beadwork and canoes in their American-Indian tradition, inspired the serene aesthetics showcased in the exhibition. From this framework Lowe constructs his abstract artwork, which mingles craft elements with fine art to reference the natural surroundings that recall his childhood home. The nearby forests and Black River inform sculptures that reflect water and wood through architectural simplicity, similar to drawing in three dimensions with twigs and twine. The artwork honors American-Indian culture portrayed through Lowe’s singular, contemporary interpretations.

While incorporating the timeless craftsmanship gleaned from his parents’ handiwork, Lowe ingeniously uses bark, feather, leather, paper, rawhide, stone and wood in his artwork. Whether designing wall hangings or large, site-specific installations, Lowe’s sculptural pieces create awe and surprise in respect to their scale, form and construction while also evoking a meditative quality from the tranquil landscapes of northern Wisconsin.

For the MWA exhibit, Lowe’s work includes a site-specific installation, floor standing sculptures and wall hangings, as he transforms the galleries into his own artistic statement.

Among Lowe’s many prestigious honors are a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a sculpture installed in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden in Washington, D.C., and a 2007 Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Lowe, an art professor at UW-Madison since 1975, also served as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian from 2000-2008.

“Lowe is a major artist nationally, who stays and works in the state,” explains MWA Assistant Director Graeme Reid, “and any time we can show Truman’s work in his home state, this is a very good experience.”

The exhibit’s opening reception takes place March 21 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Lowe will also speak Thursday, March 25, at MWA’s “The Moment” in a special program titled “Following the Line, Finding Nature’s Geometry: A Conversation with Truman Lowe.” Joining Lowe for this program will be Beloit College art history professor Jo Ortel, author of Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe.

This March 25 event, which occurs from 5 to 8 p.m., will offer Lowe’s personal insights into his reverence for nature and American-Indian culture as seen in his artwork.