New exhibitions illustrate INOVA’s mission

Sara Krajewski, coming up on her first year as director, has put her distinctive mark on INOVA.

On July 15, Sara Krajewski hits the first-year mark as director of INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Two exhibitions opening this summer are the first she has brought to campus, and provide a glimpse of the direction she will lead INOVA.

During the past year, Krajewski has been surveying INOVA’s strengths and challenges to chart a future course. She emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the organization’s innovative curatorial work and raising support for the role of art as a mode of research inquiry.

“INOVA is unique among Milwaukee’s art institutions as the only public, nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to the national and international contemporary art dialogue,” says Krajewski.

“INOVA’s affiliation with the Peck School of the Arts also makes us unique and informs our artist-centered, idea-driven approach. As an institute housed at the university, INOVA is an independent, multidisciplinary unit charged with fostering directed and collaborative research in contemporary art.”

Krajewski sees this happening through exhibitions, programs and publications that bring results of artistic research to a public audience.

Program vision for 2013 and beyond

Krajewski has mapped out a program vision that turns on “the belief that artists are nontraditional researchers who tap creative, technological and intellectual resources, and that their investigations positively influence our culture.

“Research in art takes many forms,” she continues, “and generates outcomes as varied as an intensive study of a single medium; engagement with science, social issues or politics; and forging alternative, transdisciplinary practices.”

She points to the exhibitions opening June 7 and 21 as examples of how “INOVA seeks out artists who embrace these challenging positions and provides them a platform for experimentation.

“When audiences experience this new work, we believe it inspires new ways of seeing our world.”

INOVA information

INOVA is located at Kenilworth Square East. Hours are 12-5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and 12-8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free. For more information, phone 414-229-5070 or visit The website also will have updates on special programming that is being planned for the summer.


Martha Wilson
June 7-Aug. 11
Over the span of her 40-year career, Martha Wilson has embraced humor and satire to examine the roles of women in our society. Whether she’s masquerading as a striving secretary or performing as a former First Lady, Wilson’s work explores how one’s identity is a complex negotiation between self-expression and cultural expectations.

Wilson is also an underground hero as the founder and director of Franklin Furnace, an alternative venue for performance and socially engaged art.

The exhibition will include archival materials from dozens of projects that exemplify the power of art to raise awareness and encourage action on issues that face our communities.

“Martha Wilson” is a traveling exhibition organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and curated by Peter Dykhuis. Krajewski aims to connect the exhibition to the university community and Milwaukee through programs that generate dialogue around feminism and alternative art forms.

Steve Rowell: Uncanny Sensing
June 21-Sept. 15

Screenshot of a custom mapping resource Rowell is developing for his Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys project, with a focus on the Lake Michigan region for Uncanny Local.  Click image for a larger version.

INOVA will debut new work by artist and “experimental geographer” Steve Rowell. In an immersive video and sound installation, Rowell presents a “real-time” vision of activities happening in the natural world – animal behavior, industrial processes, effects of erosion – as they are captured by remote technology.

Cameras and listening devices placed in forests and in areas of scientific exploration offer us new forms of access yet leave us with a strong sense of the uncanny. What happens when the lens and the microphone replace human eyes and ears?

This array of 96 Yagi antennas in Adventdalen on Spitsbergen Island, managed by researchers from the University of Tromsø, monitors the activity in the tropopause, the intersection between the troposphere (the layer of atmosphere closest to the earth) and the stratosphere (about 9 kilometers above Svalbard). This array is a sounding array, measuring gravity waves and air turbulence. From the Cold Coast Archive project. Click image for a larger version.

Rowell’s work questions just how far technology should enter into nature, and what this impact means for the environment and our perception of it.

Steve Rowell is an artist, curator and researcher who focuses on overlapping aspects of technology, perception and culture related to the landscape. He recently received a Creative Capital grant in support of “Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys”; INOVA’s exhibition is the first of many localized experiments that will build this larger project.