2011 Greater Milwaukee Foundation's Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individuals Exhibition: Sonja Thomsen
Inova's Opening Night for 2011 Nohl Fellowship Artists
Friday night, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Inova/Kenilworth Gallery overflowed with people of all ages, people excited in Milwaukee art. The crowd rushed in for the opening of the “2011 Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists Exhibition,” which opened that evening, October 5.
Eight artists comprised the 2011 exhibition this October and included Justeeds Artists Cooperative printmaker, Nicolas Lampert, filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein and Sonja Thomsen, a former president of the Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA)in the established artist category.
Filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein’s documentaries were previewed on Saturday, October 6, which featured his As Goes Janesville showing at the Oriental Theatre. Besides this premiere event, a series of ongoing events coordinating with the exhibition continues through December 9, when the show closes. Inova also hosts a special panel presentation by the 2012 Nohl Fellowship Jurors Lisa Dent, Astria Suparak and IreneTsatsos on Thursday, October 25, at 6:00 p.m. for those interested in the award process.
When one entered, Inova’s expansive gallery space generously allows for monumental and free standing artwork. Upon arrival, Sonja Thomsen’s stunning and welcoming sculpture Trace of Possiblity greets viewers to the exhibition. Her angular structure constructed from steel, polycarbonate and vinyl surpassed expectations, surprising and enveloping viewers when they walked around and under the sculpture's cover.
Thomsen’s artist statement documents her move into this new medium on a grand scale while still exploring the elemental surfaces from her photography: light, reflections, shadow, and the intersection between person, place and surface. Her new sculpture invites the viewer to explore these tenuous qualities, constantly shifting, and step into the sheltered cavern under its pointed triangular wings to experience the bright sheen on these surfaces. Possibly imagining an experience similar to visiting a magnified silver crystal, a flake of glistening snow or the nick from a star that fell to earth.
Whether imagining a star from the Milky way or photographing milky glass, Thomsen reminds the viewer of these variable inspirations in her gallery statement. And in Inova's hallway adjacent to the foyer, nine pigment prints on vinyl titled Vessel return Thomsen to her roots in photography. A white haze filters over images of vintage milk glass objects, such as a candy jar, a cup and a vase, creating a film between the past and present, fantasy and reality, the vinyl producing the gleam to the finish. Thomsen also displays another of her “vessels, ”a rose pink sheath dress, shaped by a ghost figure, floating in white mid-air, enticing the eye and mind.
After first encountering Thomsen and her prints five years ago at Dean Jensen Gallery (a gallery where she will be also showing this October for Jensen's “25 for 25” exhibition) in her compelling photography exhibition, “Oil and Water,” Thomsen continues to venture down these expressive, reflective pathways using expanded potential, literally and figuratively with superb results. The artist lectures at Inova on November 1 at 6:00 p.m. with a talk titled Shifting the Frame.
Art Talk Milwaukee continues a chat on the 2011 Nohl Fellowship exhibiton with comments on Nicolas Lampert. For a complete listing of events coordinating with the exhibition, including Nicolas Lampert's UWM Arts Center Lecture Hall Artist's Now! lecture on October 17, 7:00 p.m, please visit: www.arts.uwm.edu/inova or www.deanjensengallery.com