Aram Han Sifuentes — Let Us Vote!

According to exhibition curator Brandon Bauer, “this exhibition brings together works by Aram Han Sifuentes that focus on democracy, citizenship, and political participation. The works in this exhibition manifest the notion of democracy as a contested space in which one can gain a political voice through citizenship, protest, or giving voice to those excluded politically.” It includes handmade protest banners, an Official Unofficial Voting Station, and a banner lending library.

A central feature of the exhibition is a wall of handmade protest banners. Sifuentes hosts workshops to teach sewing skills and banner-making techniques, passing on a traditional, intergenerational skills while drawing communities into conversation about protest and demonstration. Some banners were created by Sifuentes or during previous lending libraries, but a collection of banners made by campus community members are available to be checked out. Next to the poster is an instructional video on how to create a fabric banner with felt letters. A banner making workshop, with instruction by Moki Tantoco, will be taking place at noon on Thursday, October 20 at noon in the Mulva Library.

The St Norbert Community’s Protest Banner Lending Library

The Official Unofficial Voting Station is a symbolic voting station open to all. In addition to creating opportunities for anyone to cast a vote, stations bring together communities for conversation, protest, and celebration. Sifuentes, as a noncitizen immigrant, created the program in response to her inability to vote. The first iteration, prior to the 2016 election, included 25 collaborative activations of the station through performances and installations. The project was reiterated during the 2020 elections, with 50 voting station kits sent across the nation. A voting station is housed online, along with a developing archive of responses and vote tallies.

At the Bush Art Center’s Official Unofficial Voting Station, gallery visitors can fill out a freeform kind of ballot, sharing the reasons that they vote, as well as listing local, national, and global issues they’d like to vote on. The Official Unofficial Voting Station, a station for all people and for all issues, creates conversation around who can vote, and what issues visitors most want brought to the ballot. The anonymous ballot responses will be recorded and archived.

Ballots, a ballot box, and stickers, as well as voting rights informational handouts.

The exhibition will be on display between October 3 and October 27, with a reception from 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m., on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Brandon Bauer — A Call to Halt

A Call to Halt is an installation and critical timeline of the Euromissiles Crisis, and the nuclear abolition movement in the United States from 1977-1987. The installation includes a reenactment of the 1982 Nuclear Freeze Referenda, in which Wisconsin was the first in the nation to put international nuclear disarmament policy to a popular vote.

Th exhibit includes a timeline of important events during the crisis as a series of archival images and captions superimposed with stenciled spray paint. Cultural, political and activist events are referenced, telling a story of collective public outcry and the power of ordinary people.

Visitors can use provided ballots and reenact Wisconsin’s nuclear disarmament referendum. The reenactment is both a reminder of the power of democracy and an opportunity for viewers to become active participants.

A Call to Halt will be on display from September 26 to October 27 in the Permanent Collection Gallery.

April Beiswenger: An Advocate for an Imposter

Through a broad, tactile mixture of textiles, printmaking, painting, and sculpture, An Advocate for an Imposter explores the nuanced relationship between imitation and authenticity. Beiswenger’s embroidery, sculpture, and weavings comprise an expansive, kind, and thoughtful conversation.

The central feature of An Advocate for an Imposter is a formal armchair upholstered in AstroTurf, flanked by two log end tables and resting on a large rug. On one side is a bowl of acorns. The arrangement creates interesting conversation about the distinction between “imposter” and “genuine.”

The AstroTurf upholstery is a particularly entertaining juxtaposition. AstroTurf is definitely an imposter, oversaturated plastic pretending to be a perfect, living yard. As upholstery, it’s doubly false–fake grass pretending to be an appropriate fabric for a seat (but actually a prickly, unpleasant surprise). The natural end tables, however, complicate the situation. Raw, unfinished wood–bare nature–is inserted into this indoor, almost domestic scene, yet the AstroTurf upholstery attempts to imitate the vibrance of living plants outdoors. Which belongs where? Who is really the imposter?

The rug below the chair has been printed with scrabble-worthy words that would pose a challenge for even the most experienced elementary school spelling bee champion. The nest of words is beautiful but overwhelming. It can be easy to feel like an imposter, standing in a space covered in terms you are ashamed you don’t know.

The wall facing the gallery entrance is dedicated to a life-sized skeleton, layers of patterned fabric exactingly embroidered with tight, floral embellishments. Next to it is pinned a small, three-inch square portrait. The contrasts between the two–in size, media, style, and presentation–are stark. The portrait, in its intimately small scale and open, unguarded expression, offers a deeply genuine moment of connection, while the skeleton is a much more precisely arranged look inside a person (literally). Both are undeniably appealing, but deeply different.

A series of cloth panels juxtapose carefully embroidered forms with sketches, splotches, and smudges. The organic, unintentional flaws and the precisely realized diagrams both have an appealing integrity to them. Sketches, coffee stains, and wrinkles–the fingerprints of an imperfect reality–honor the time, effort, and person beside the ideals of their work.

An Advocate for an Imposter will be on display in the Godschalx Gallery through October 20.

Rafael Francisco Salas – Summer’s End

As fall semester begins, take a moment to reflect on Summer’s End, an exhibition of achingly beautiful work by Rafael Francisco Salas. The exhibition primarily features oil paintings of indistinct rural landscapes and a county fair in “a metaphorical change of season. It is an oblique atmospheric meditation on political and social divides. The landscape emerges as an emotional rather than a literal one. The county fair at summer’s end is a place of reckoning, full of innocence, and innocence lost.” 

From left to right: County Fair #3 (Calf), County Fair #1 (Princess), County Fair #2 (Shovel), 2021. Oil on canvas.

Salas’ paintings feature luminous backgrounds, their inner glow contrasting with a persistent shadow that creeps in at the corners of the canvases. He doesn’t shy away from saturated, earthy colors, but, paired with muted grays, the overall effect is a sense of disillusioned nostalgia.

2021 Landscape, 2021. Oil on canvas.

Summer’s End layers the hopefulness of the ideal, the clarity of recollection, and the crumbling of memory. Sharply rendered figures and sparkling fireworks are placed atop hazy rural landscapes, bleeding into but distant from their surroundings. Focal points dissociate into abstract strokes of jeweled color, and backgrounds fade into the feeling of a landscape, rather than a physical location.

In addition to large oil paintings, Summer’s End includes a collection of process sketches. This body of delicate, thoughtful works contextualize the ideas that culminated in each painting. It’s interesting to see how a change in medium affects the perception of each subject, with small studies in ink, acrylic, and collaged paper a quietly different treatment than the large oil paintings.

Process work.

Salas is a professor of art at Ripon College, where he also serves as chair of the department of Art and Art History, and has also been appointed to the Wisconsin Arts Board. His work has been displayed in New York City, San Diego, and Boston. He’s also shown work extensively in the Midwest, including in the Neville Public Museum, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and the Frank Juarez Gallery. His work is represented by Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee. Salas has also worked as an arts writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Newcity Art Chicago, The Isthmus Magazine and Urban Milwaukee.

Rockets #1 and Rockets #2, 2022. Oil on canvas.

Summer’s End opened on August 29 and can be viewed in the Baer Gallery through September 22. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 8. The gallery is open to the campus and the community.

County Fair #3 (Calf), 2022. Oil on canvas.

Fall 2022 Exhibitions

Painting of a woman playing a trumpet in front of red and white stripes.
Rafael Francisco Salas, Song, 2022, Oil on canvas

Fall 2022, Bush Art Center Galleries

Rafael Francisco Salas: Summer’s End

Baer Gallery, August 29-Sept. 22, 2022, Reception: Sept. 8, 5-7 p.m.

“Summer’s End” imagines a metaphorical change of season. It is an oblique, atmospheric meditation on political and social divides. The landscape emerges as an emotional place rather than a literal one. The county fair at summer’s end is a place of reckoning, full of innocence, and innocence lost.


April Beiswenger: An Advocate for an Imposter

Godschalx Gallery, August 29-October 20, 2022, Reception: Sept. 8, 5-7 p.m.

A mixed media project by April Beiswenger, Associate Professor of Theatre at St. Norbert College.


Aram Han Sifuentes: Let Us Vote! 

Baer Gallery, October 3 – Oct. 27

Exhibition events: Banner Making: Noon to 2:00 pm, Thursday, October 20 (location tbd) Reception: Bush Art Center, 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 20

Let Us Vote features the work of Aram Han Sifuentes and highlights participation and disenfranchisement in the political process. This exhibition is curated by Brandon Bauer, Associate Professor of Art.


2022-23 Juried Student Art Exhibition

Baer Gallery, November 7- Dec. 2, 2022, Reception: Thursday, November 10, 4:30-6:30 p.m. 

An annual juried exhibition of work by current St. Norbert College students. 


Senior Art Exhibition: Rachel Stover

Godschalx Gallery, November 7- Dec. 2, 2022, Reception: Thursday, November 10, 4:30-6:30 p.m. 

The Senior Art Exhibition is the capstone experience for all St. Norbert College art majors. 

Blake Williams — Commonplace

Blake William’s Commonplace is anything but ordinary. The show, which was housed in the Baer Gallery at the start of the spring semester, includes ceramic and wire sculptures, as well as furniture sourced from Williams’ family, like her great-mother’s dining room table. These sculptures explore the human condition, how an individual relates to their surroundings, and how identity is formed and reformed.

Gammy’s Runner, Great-Mother’s Table, 2009-2010. Porcelain, wire, and table. In the back, Secret Recipes, 2019. Porcelain, wire, digital decals, and chair.

Through imagery of bones and flowers, Williams studies the ghosts of the past in the everyday, the transience of life, and the search for identity. Her work places a special significance on the contributions of domestic work and honors the memories bound up in objects of ancestors.

Gammy’s Runner, Great-Mother’s Table, as well as Resilience II, with Waiting for Summer in March on the far left.

Blake Williams is an artist and Associate Professor at Michigan State University. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and she has pieces in national private collections, as well as the Jingdezhen Ceramics Museum. Williams has also been featured in American Craft and Ceramics Monthly magazines.

Nourish 2010. Porcelain, wire, and chair.

This peaceful, contemplative exhibition was on display between January 24 and February 17 in the Baer Gallery. It was a quiet space to consider home and self, and to honor the sacredness of memory.

2022 Senior Art Exhibition

The Senior Art Exhibition is the capstone experience for all art majors. Each art major creates a body of work centered around a theme of their choice and exhibit their work in the Bush Art Center galleries. This year’s exhibition, featuring work from eight seniors, explores a wide range of topics, including the greatest moments in sports history, a fantasy world that feels like home, and the power of water.

Our graduating art majors this year are Francesca Facchini, Cora McMains, Marybeth Koss, Kori Halstead, Ally Laidlaw, Trevor Cornell, Megan Huth, and Rita Hamm. The 2022 Senior Art Exhibition is on display in the Baer and Godschalx Galleries until May 6.

Works of Water. Marybeth Koss
Ophidiophobia—Fear of Snakes. Francesca Facchini
Bare Witness (detail) Ally Laidlaw

Third Coast Prints: A selection of work from Really Big Prints 2021

Be drawn into the Godschalx Gallery to experience a series of large-scale relief prints from last summer’s Really Big Prints! Organized by Berel Lutsky (UW – Manitowoc), Ben Rinehart (Lawrence University), and Katie Ries (St. Norbert College), this biennial event in Manitowoc, Wisconsin allows printmakers to stretch the limits of printmaking and produce work up to 4 by 6 feet in size. By carving into large panels, made out of birch plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF), only the uncarved area can be covered with ink. When paper is pressed to this inked surface, the resulting image is known as a relief print. Prints on this scale are too large to be pressed with a traditional printing press, so a City of Manitowoc steamroller steps up to the task.

A steamroller press in action. Underneath the steamroller is board and a thick foam mat, protecting the paper and the carved, inked block from shifting.

Woodblock prints on this intimidating scale can take hundreds of hours to carve and create, months before any steamrollers are involved. On the day of, each artist’s printing process depends on a whole team of “clean hands” and other assistants. After the event, artists wheat-paste one of their prints in an alley in Manitowoc, Wi on Washington Street, across from the courthouse. Though those prints have come down, each artist also contributes a print to the Really Big Prints Archive, to be shared in future exhibitions.

Wheatpasting Really Big Prints in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

The selection of prints from the 2021 event currently on display include work by a St. Norbert art professor, Katie Ries, as well as illustrator Rebecca Jabs, who exhibited in SNC’s Baer Gallery last year. These immersive paper-and ink worlds can initiate reflections on a sense of self and place, the role of stewardship, and the meaning of the natural world. Take an opportunity to surround yourself with these incredible prints before the exhibit closes on March 31!