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Artists Without Borders: Reflections on Art and Place

May 12–Aug 1, 2021

MOWA DTN

What makes an artist a Wisconsin artist? Is it their birthplace...their place of residence...their artistic subject matter? As the sole institution dedicated to the past, present, and future of Wisconsin art, MOWA does not seek to answer this question definitively, but rather to mount exhibitions that take the pulse of the present and encourage continued questioning. How does a particular place give shape to its native art? How does art instill a sense of belonging to a place? What can art reveal about the ways place informs our identities?

Artists Without Borders positions these questions front and center. The eight featured artists—all with indelible roots abroad and currently residing in Wisconsin—present eight distinct takes on the relationship between art and place.

Six of the artists are first-generation immigrants who draw artistic influence from their home countries: Nirmal Raja (India) in her use of domestic objects common in an Indian household; Nina Ghanbarzadeh (Iran) in her celebration of the beauty of the Persian alphabet; Jason Yi (South Korea) in his sculptural interpretations of South Korean landscapes and legends; Rina Yoon (South Korea) in her adoption of Korean printing and paper-making techniques; Xiaohong Zhang (China), who melds traditional Chinese painting with Western digital art; and Francisco X. Mora (Mexico) with a suite of self-portraits in the tradition of Mexican surrealism.

Gabrielle Tesfaye and David Najib Kasir were born in the Midwest, but their work represents attempts to understand the worlds their parents came from. Tesfaye’s films delve into the history of Ethiopia, and her larger-than-life puppets are inspired by the folk arts of Southeast Asia. Kasir’s paintings use Arabic motifs to depict Syrian refugees and images derived from the current war-torn state of his mother's homeland.

Artists Without Borders is also on view at MOWA West Bend through July 3rd.

On View Starting May 12, 2021:
Open Daily 7 AM - Midnight

Interested in learning more? Click here to be linked to specially-curated art events at Saint Kate.

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