CDMC Now Hosting Four Gallery Exhibitions Online

When the UW–Madison campus closed for all non-essential work in mid-March, that mandate included the two galleries of the Center for Design and Material Culture (CDMC) at SoHE. The Ruth Davis Design Gallery was in the midst of a much anticipated exhibition of the Chinese-American Art Faculty Association, and the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery was hosting a timely show about the refugee experience. Both of those exhibits, as well as two others, are now available for online viewing, thanks to the work of several CDMC staff.

“These two galleries are critical resources within the Center for Design and Material Culture,” says Visiting Executive Director Dr. Sarah Anne Carter. “While it’s of course disappointing that we can’t welcome people to view these shows in person, I am thrilled that we can still host them and the very timely, important conversations they provoke.”

Find more info on these exhibits below and on the SoHE events calendar, and learn more about CDMC’s work by following them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

What Would a Microbe Say?

crocheted membranes of human limbs

“Crocheted membrane,” by Sonja Bäumel.

In this exhibition, artist Sonja Bäumel, collaborating with Helen Blackwell of the UW–Madison Department of Chemistry, explores the perception of what bodies are made of through microbes and the body’s surface. Bäumel reimagines skin as a fictional layer of communication, a multi-being landscape linked to the discovery of the human microbiome, which established the body as a walking biotope. Through the works in this exhibition, Bäumel examine how scientific knowledge has influenced the way we have perceived and interpreted the human body historically, and how this impacts our current society and the cultural contexts in which we act. Learn more, and view the show.

Harmony and Evolution: An Exhibition of the Chinese-American Art Faculty Association

Artwork by Xia Gao, "Beauty in Vacancy #1" (2019).

Xia Gao. Beauty in Vacancy #1. 2019. Installation view. Image courtesy of the artist.

Harmony and Evolution showcases the work of art and design faculty from across the U.S. to address the issue of how art and design express cultural integration and creativity. The Chinese-American Art Faculty Association (CAAFA) is a national organization with over 130 members representing art and design in the U.S. and China. This iteration of the CAAFA’s biennial exhibition represents the first time the association has exhibited in the Midwest and draws from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and creativity. Learn more, and view the show.

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage

Detail from Unpacked, scene in miniature of burned-out car and room. Image courtesy of nelsonimaging.com.

Detail from Unpacked. Image courtesy of nelsonimaging.com.

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage seeks to humanize the word “refugee.” This multimedia exhibit features the sculptures of Mohamad Hafez, a Syrian-born, Connecticut-based artist and architect who re-creates war-torn domestic interiors within suitcases. Each piece is based on interviews with refugees who were forced to leave their homes in countries ranging from Syria and Afghanistan, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and who now reside in the United States. Included in the series are Hafez and Badr’s own stories, which detail Hafez’s inability to return to Syria, and the bomb that entered Badr’s family home. Pieces from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection will be placed in dialogue with UNPACKED, which provides a unique opportunity to reinterpret the School of Human Ecology holdings. Learn more, and view the show.

Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas

View of the "Intersections" exhibit in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery at SoHE.

Gallery view of “Intersections,” fall 2019. Photo by Dakota Mace.

Indigenous scholars Kendra Greendeer (Ho-Chunk) and Dakota Mace (Diné) co-curate an exhibition exploring material interrelationships among cultures with long histories of exchange throughout the Americas: “As Indigenous curators, we felt that it was important to create an exhibition that came from an Indigenous perspective. We wanted to provide a new window to recognize and acknowledge the complexity and interconnectedness of Indigenous peoples through textiles.” Learn more, and view the show.


If you have SoHE-related (featuring SoHE faculty, instructors, or students) virtual events you would like featured on the SoHE calendar, please submit them here and/or invite SoHE as a co-host on your Facebook event. Questions? Contact PR manager Serena Larkin.

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