Alum is 2021 Guggenheim fellow, Sculpture Milwaukee co-curator

Michelle Grabner (UWM MA, Art History, 1986).
Grabner’s sculpture, Untitled, was featured in Sculpture Milwaukee in 2017. (Courtesy Sculpture Milwaukee )

Learn about Art History MA program at UWM.

November 2021 Update
Milwaukee Magazine feature: Meet the Bettys 2021: The Creative Genius. Michelle Grabner is an artist at the top of her game.

Artist, writer, and curator Michelle Grabner (UWM MA, Art History, 1986) is a 2021 Guggenheim fellow and co-curator of this year’s Sculpture Milwaukee exhibition downtown.

As noted on the Guggenheim website , Grabner "examines power structures inherent in patterns and arrangements" in her work, seeking to answer questions such as, "How much difference can be introduced into a pattern field without collapsing the composition into unreliability? Will referential and overfamiliar patterns tip compositions into platitudes and precepts? What organizational conceits can be developed to unify disparity?"

Sculpture Milwaukee , which launched in June, is one of the largest annual outdoor exhibitions to focus on contemporary sculpture and public art practices. Grabner’s sculpture, Untitled, was featured in its inaugural exhibit in 2017.

Upon being named co-curator in February, Grabner said, “It is exhilarating to co-curate Sculpture Milwaukee with (Chicago-based social practice installation artist) Theaster (Gates), knowing that the process will result in wholehearted and attentive conversations between two artists who are deeply invested in sculptural form, materiality, and the urgent political and aesthetic issues embedded in a large-scale public exhibition.”

Grabner is the Crown Family Professor of Art and senior chair of the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has taught since 1996. She has also taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art at UW-Madison, Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts at Bard College, Yale University School of Art, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. In 2014 she curated the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art and appeared at number 27 on Artnet’s list of the The 100 Most Powerful Women in Art .