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The Future of Milwaukee Art

MIAD, UWM students display new works in April

Mar. 23, 2010
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For many students, spring break offers a time of rest and relaxation. For senior art majors at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design(MIAD) and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), however, it’s a frantic time to finish projects for exhibitions opening in April.

MIAD senior Molly Opitz has spent extensive time in the school’s 3-D Lab to finish not one, but two senior thesis projects. Opitz has a double major in industrial design and integrated arts, specifically sculpture and painting.

One project to be displayed at the MIAD Senior Exhibition, opening April 16, incorporates Opitz’s love of teaching and the outdoors. Her “Dino Excavation Tent” encourages 5- to 8-year-olds to play with and learn about dinosaurs while interacting with nature. Opitz, inspired by her mother’s career as a second-grade teacher, will give the tent to her mother’s classroom next fall.

Opitz’s second artwork, which will hang over MIAD’s lower-level reception desk, is a 12-by-12-foot mobile comprised of more than 30 hand-bent, joined, planed and veneered strips of red elm. Titled Seeing Through Water, this immense undertaking references the Lake Michigan shoreline Opitz often visited from her childhood home in Cedar Grove, Wis.

Opitz’s science classes in limnology, or the study of fresh water, inspired her to create the stylized fish swimming through her hand-bent wooden waves. The concept first occurred to Opitz last spring, though the actual process started in August when she collected red elm from Kettle Moraine.

While the two artworks appear dissimilar, both relate Opitz’s love of teaching and her wishes to someday design outdoor activities and equipment for children. When it comes to her sculpture, Opitz wants viewers to “ponder that the whole ecosystem, including the fish stocked in Lake Michigan, has human hands delegating the outcome.”

Briana Ziebell graduates from UWM in May with a double major in art history and inter-arts, along with a minor in theater. Ziebell is a nontraditional student who returned to college with the assistance of two scholarships from Executive Women International. The scholarships also allowed Ziebell to pursue her dream of opening Sitron Studios Art Gallery at 2671 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View. On April 9, Sitron opens “Details,” featuring Jerry Cahak’s floral photographs. Ziebell’s delicate watercolors with ink will be on display as well.

Ziebell is also planning two new events. The last Monday of every month is “Monday Funday for Families” at Sitron. Beginning at 5 p.m. on March 29, juice boxes and snacks accompany an art project at the gallery. A special charity event takes place on Wednesday, March 31, from 5-10 p.m. In honor of Women’s History Month, Sitron hosts a fund-raiser featuring live music, food and a silent auction, with a portion of all proceeds benefiting the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee.


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