Milwaukee Art Museum

A Day at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

One of the fun things about exploring new cities is seeing their art museums. We had one day in wonderful Milwaukee where we sampled their best coffee, the Domes at Mitchell Park, the Harley Davidson Museum and the architecturally amazing Milwaukee Art Museum.

Here are some of the highlights of the latter. You can see my preference for abstraction using fiber and mixed materials in these choices.

I’ll say more about that once you have had a chance to see these four pieces.

-Cornelia Parker-

Cornelia Parker is a British sculptor and installation artist whose 1999 installation Edge of  England is constructed from chalk, wire and wire mesh. Parker’s work often feature household objects that have been broken and reimagined into new abstract structures. 


Portrait Cornelia Parker
Edge of England by Cornelia Parker
Edge of England (detail) by Cornelia Parker
Come Out #5 by Glenn Ligon
Portrait Glenn Ligon
Come Out #5 (detail) by Glenn Ligon

-Glen Legion-

Glenn Ligon is an African-American conceptual artist whose work explores race, language, desire, sexuality, and identity. His monumental 2014 silkscreen on canvas piece Come Out #5 took up a whole wall of the museum. This text-based piece was inspired by the 1966 spoken-word piece by composer Steve Reich, who was in turn influenced by the Harlem race riot of 1964. The layers of the text Come Out become so dense that the piece morphs into abstraction.

Glenn Ligion Website


-Robert Morris-

American sculptor Robert Morris was an important and controversial figure in the Minimalist movement. His sculptures, performances and critical writing explored facets of conceptual art and ideas about ephemerality. His spare 1970 piece Untitled is composed of industrial felt that hangs gracefully on the wall.

Robert Morris Artworks

Untitled by Robert Morris
Portrait Robert Morris
Morris Obituary
Inni-Che-ru-he (Stone Wall) by Truman Lowe
Portrait Truman Lowe

-Truman Lowe-

Truman Lowe was an American Ho-Chunk sculptor and installation artist known for large site-specific installation pieces utilizing natural materials. Like many contemporary Native American artists, Lowe’s art tells stories about the Winnebago people and his relationship to the environment. Inni-che-ru-he (Stone Wall) from his Canyon series is a massive and delicate installation made with chalk on paper and willow branches.

Each of these pieces excites me. They all refer to the grid, even if they are breaking it like Cornelia Parker and Robert Morris. These artists are all using humble or industrial materials in innovative ways. They gravitate towards a pared down or stark statement. And all of these pieces are large, breath-taking and elegant. 

And let me not forget to say that they were all hung in the soaring, winged, Milwaukee Art Museum, completed in 2001 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, featuring a moveable sunscreen, with a 217-foot (66-metre) span.

Although it wasn’t initially on my radar, Milwaukee is an outstanding cultural destination and the Museum was a gem. 

Fiberart International Opening

Fiberart International Opening

10 Days Left to see the Triennial

Attending the opening for Fiberart International in Pittsburgh, PA was thrilling and inspiring. There were 55 artists from 8 countries in this 23rd triennial exhibition and about half of them were able to come to the events that were sponsored by the two galleries that hosted the show, Contemporary Craft and the Brew House. The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh also sponsored a day long event featuring a keynote by Jane Sauer, gallerist, artist and thought leader in contemporary fiber arts. The jurors were Jane Sauer and Sonya Clark, Distinguished Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

The exhibition took two years to organize and the coordination of this effort was shared by Rae Gold and Risë Nagin. There were so many highlights for me and I’ll share a few here.

Madeline Darnell, my hostess in front of the Pittsburgh skyline

First of all, I was hosted by the lovely Madeline Darnell, a member of the Guild. She not only had me as a guest in her home over the long weekend but also took me on a tour of Pittsburgh and to some of the area galleries. 

Fiberart Amy Morgan
Amy Morgan, Owner of Morgan Contemporary Glass

 We visited the Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery and had the opportunity to meet the owner, Amy Morgan, who is a firecracker and mover and shaker in the Pittsburgh art scene. 

Jim Arendt's first place piece, Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap

Some of my favorite fiber artists were also in the show. I met Jim Arendt, who collected the first place prize for his powerful piece Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap, which uses reclaimed denim to address labor issues.  There were several men whose work garnered awards and attention, a refreshing change in the female dominated fiber field. Another artist, Louise Silk, who also works with recycled denim, hosted a lovely dinner at her artist loft. She told me that she had been inspired by my installation Tribe of Dina that she saw in the 1980s. It’s great to learn that our work is making a difference.

I had a reunion with Susan Avishai and her husband Bob Bernstein from Toronto. They had attended our 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency program in Mexico earlier in the spring and we had a wonderful connection as fiber artists. Susan’s piece No Place to Hide a Dark Heart is part of a series of  sculptures made from deconstructed, discarded clothing rescued from thrift shops. The other artist in our trio was Adrienne Sloan, who plans to attend the residency in 2020. Her piece 100 Days and Counting is a painful reminder of our current political debacle.

All in all, it was a great honor for my piece Kansai to be included in this exhibition and to have the opportunity to see so much excellent and innovative work in fiber.

Susan Avishai behind her piece No Place to Hide a Dark Heart
Adrienne Sloan's piece 100 Days and Counting and Deborah Kruger's piece Kansai

Fiberart International 2019

Drawings of Endangered Birds from Artist Residency In France

In October 2016, I spent a month at La Porte Peinte artist residency in a small medieval village in central France.  I did hours of research about endangered birds, which led to a series of 18 drawings of birds around the world whose existence is threatened by habitat destruction and other thoughtless human practices.

Initially, I only intended to spend the residency doing research and writing about my artwork. I wanted uninterrupted time to answer questions about why I was so compelled to make art about endangered birds and what relevance they had to my own life. However, in the process of the research, the images of the birds were so haunting, especially the ones that were nearly extinct, that I felt compelled to draw them. That process was so intimate as I realized that in many cases, people would never see these birds again except in books and on the internet and I wanted to honor them with the human hand and heart. These images are now appearing in silk screens for the feathers I use to create my artwork, on plates that we design for floor installations and for my other creative projects.

(Click to view larger image)

Kansai Has Been Accepted into Fiberart International


I am proud to announce that my piece titled Kansai, has been accepted into Fiberart International, a very competitive international exhibition scheduled to open May 31 and continue through August 24, 2019. Only 4% of the applicants were accepted and winners were judged by Sonya Clark, a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University and Jane Sauer, a reknown artist, gallerist and former Chair of the American Craft Council. Both jurors are thought leaders in the world of contemporary fiber. 


Fiberart International is the only on-going triennial open to textile artists everywhere in the world and a growing national and international audience. The exhibition is produced by The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, Inc. a nonprofit organization that promotes the appreciation of Fiber arts and fosters its development and continuation through member support and outreach.


The shape of Kansai is based on the map of a state with the same name in Japan. The colors of the piece reflect the Japanese flag and the feathers are fabricated from fused plastic bags screen-printed with images of endangered birds and endangered languages. I am not only honored to be included in this prestigious exhibition, but acceptance also signals an acknowledgement that my new materials exist within the fiber spectrum.

TERRA inFIRMA at the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, New York City

I feel privileged to have my piece Harbinger included in the climate-themed show opening at the inaugural exhibition at the new Dr. Bernard Heller Museum located at Hebrew Union College Museum near NYU in New York City.

Harbinger, 2018, 42 x 53 x 1”, screen-printing on fused plastic bags, sewing
Laura Kruger, curator of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

The exhibition, curated by Laura Kruger (no relation), focuses on climate change and global warning through the lens of Jewish values and contemporary social activism.  Laura Kruger explains, “According to our tradition, God created the earth and we are instructed to tend it and preserve it for future generations. It is our responsibility as the earth’s stewards to take action and effect positive change.”

Harbinger, Detail
Drawing of the Bengal Florican done during my artist residency in France, 2016

Harbinger, takes the shape of Cambodia as its form (a country considered extremely vulnerable to climate change) and last remaining habitat of the remarkably beautiful and nearly extinct Bengal Florican. My mixed media work using fused plastic bags screen-printed with images of endangered bird and languages, addresses the sharp decline in bird species as a result of habitat destruction, much of it caused by climate change and deforestation.

Like the other 65 artists in this show, I am haunted by spector of extinction and I join this talented group of artists who are all using their art to address climate change and contribute to Tikkun Olam, the healing of our planet.

I will be at the opening reception on Thursday September 6, 2018 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. If you are in the metro-New York area, please consider attending the opening and saying hello (you will need ID to be admitted). Laura Kruger has designed a beautiful catalogue for the show.

Aileen Bassis. Submerged City: Manhattan, 2018

Exhibición Centro Cultural Chapala

Mi exhibición individual titulada Turbulencia: Aves, Belleza, Lenguaje y Pérdida, se inauguro el 4 de Agosto, 2018 en el Centro Cultural Chapala “Antigua Presidencia” y tuvimos una gran asistencia.

Hay 10m nuevas piezas en exhibición en la sala principal y 6 piezas anteriores en una sala más pequeña donde el nuevo documental de Miguel Mata se reprodujo de manera continua.

También hay 4 impresiones en glicee en la sala pequeña, diseñadas a partir de detalles de las nuevas piezas, impresos y tensados en lienzo para dar apariencia de pinturas abstractas.

El nuevo trabajo realizado utilizando bolsas de plásticas fundidas y cosidas, montados en las paredes así como una escultura en forma espiral. En el medio de la galería, realice una instalación de piso, utilizando platos de cerámica quebrados y escombro. Las imágenes pintadas a mano en los platos están basadas en dibujos de aves en peligro de extinción, que realice mientras estaba en Francia en una residencia artística.

La inauguración de la recepción fue muy concurrida con más de 200 personas de México y la comunidad extranjera. Colegas volaron desde la ciudad de Nueva York y Madison, WI y el Presidente Municipal de Chapala dio un pequeño discurso y me entrego un reconocimiento.

¡Fue una gran noche!

Si vives cerca del Lago de Chapala, México, el show estará abierto al público hasta el Sábado 15 de Septiembre, 2018

Horas de la Galería son:
Lunes – Viernes 9:00 am – 2:00 pm y 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm 
Sabado 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Domingo 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Chapala Cultural Center Exhibition

My solo exhibition titled Turbulence: Birds, Beauty, Language & Loss opened on August 4, 2018 at the Chapala Cultural Center and we had a great turnout.

There were 10 new pieces on view in the main gallery and 6 older pieces in the smaller gallery where Miguel Mata’s new documentary ran on a continuous loop.

There were also 4 giclee prints in the smaller gallery designed from details of the new pieces printed and stretched on linen so that they appeared as abstract paintings.

The new work using fused and sewn plastic bags featured work on the wall as well as a sculpture shaped like a spiral. In the middle of the gallery, I built a floor installation using broken plates and building debris. The images on the hand-painted plates were based on drawings of endangered birds that I had done while on an artist residency in France.

The opening reception was well attended with over 200 people from the ex-pat and Mexican communities. Colleagues flew in from New York City and Madison, WI and the Mayor showed up to give a short speech and present me with a certificate of appreciation. It was a great night!


If you live near Lake Chapala, Mexico, the show will be up through Saturday September 15, 2018. 

Gallery Hours are:
Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 2:00 pm y 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm 
Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm


Nasher Museum at Duke University in Durham, NC

Mark Bradford, A Private Stranger Thinking about his Needs, 2016

Every artist dreams of being in a major collection and this exhibition at the Nasher Museum is an excellent example of how powerful collecting can be for the artists and for the public.

Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection focuses on abstract  African-American artists from 1940s to the present.  Beginning in 1999, the collectors identified Post-war and contemporary black artists and committed to collecting works over a span of their careers so that the public can see the trajectory of these visionary artists. The collection’s focus has expanded to include artists from Africa and the global African diaspora.

The exhibition includes two of my favorite artists, Mark Bradford, and Sam Gilliam. I saw other exciting artists including Kevin Beasley,  Leonardo Drew (Wow!), Norman Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Shinique Smith, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

The Nasher has made a commitment to exhibiting black artists from the South and from around the world and it deserves kudos for making these exhibitions a regular, rather than token, part of their curatorial agenda.

Sam Gilliam, Stand, 1973
Leonardo Drew, Wood 2013
Kevin Beasley, Untitled (Vine), 2016
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Fly, 2012


Exhibition Information at the Nasher Museum:

Installing Mark Bradford’s “A Private Stranger Thinking about his Needs”

Enrance to Exhibition
Mark Bradford, Detail of A Private Stranger Thinking about his Needs, 2016
Leonardo Drew, Detail of Wood, 2013