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Sculpture Milwaukee's 2022 collection illustrates the city's relationship to nature

Sculpture Milwaukee 2022 exhibit by Maya Lin.
Sculpture Milwaukee 2022 exhibit by Maya Lin.

For the past five years, Sculpture Milwaukee has been bringing public art to the streets of downtown Milwaukee. Since it began, the project has featured pieces from prominent artists, displaying them in public spaces for all Milwaukeeans to enjoy.

This year’s newest exhibition will feature various works that play on the city’s relationship to nature. Brian Schupper, Sculpture Milwaukee’s executive director, explains that as of last year, they initiated a Guest Curator Program. This year, the program will feature internationally known artist Ugo Rondinone and his exhibition titled “Nature Doesn’t Know About Us.”

“As a center of our excellence in Milwaukee and Milwaukee being that for the world, we wanted to invite these world-class artists and curators to have the platform that is the entire city to tell the story,” Schupper explains.

Sculpture Milwaukee organizers hopes that the public will appreciate the story that each individual piece tells and the story the collection tells as a whole. In theme, the exhibition will not be placed on the street all at once but gradually grow across the city.

“One of the great things about Sculpture Milwaukee was it was envisioned as this temporary installation, we would bring these pieces in and we would take them out. But a number of the pieces became so beloved by various individuals and community members that they purchased them and either put them on their own property, but public-facing so that the public could interact with them, or were donated to the communities,” Schupper says.

While exhibitions in years past have promoted three-dimensional pieces, this year, Sculpture Milwaukee wants to push the boundaries of sculpture. In further dedication to the theme of nature, Schupper confirms that there will be at least two living pieces in the exhibition this year.

“Part of the challenge and opportunity that we have this year is that it’s very much an organic exhibition. I mean that figuratively and literally. [A] number of our pieces actually are growing, they have life to them and the exhibition itself is growing.”

Until the end of October 2022, you can view 30 pieces from Sculpture Milwaukee on the streets of downtown Milwaukee. These pieces are from exhibitions “there is this We,” “Nature Doesn’t Know About Us” and the Legacy Collection, which Schupper expects to have additions this year.

Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Cait Flynn was an assistant producer for Lake Effect 2022 to 2023.
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