Running from July 10 to October 19, the Postcards from America: Milwaukee exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum should not be missed. The exhibit features photographs from 11 different photographers who visited Wisconsin. Photographs range from the interesting faces of the Wisconsin State Fair to the children of Black River Falls to the women working in lesser-known professions.
Each artist brings a different perspective and style to the show, and because the pieces are centered on recognizable symbols in Wisconsin, many people believe that the exhibit could be considered one of the most intriguing exhibits the art museum has had in recent years.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by the faces of the unique strangers at the Wisconsin State Fair grounds.
Close-up shots mounted on the wall display the unique features of these people, wrinkles and make-up as they were in reality, and the candid photos offer an interesting look at the everyday people attending a popular Wisconsin event.
Along the same set of walls, other photographs are displayed following the state fair images. Various shots of telltale Wisconsin icons are shown, such as a person eating a cream puff or a drinking a Bloody Mary from Comet Cafe, drawing onlookers in as they take note of the things they know so well from home.
Following this set of images, a group of photographs that capture the lives of people from Black River Falls provide a curious set of snapshots for visitors. Many of these photos are of students and youth from the city, and the beautiful photographs not only are nice to look at, but make you wonder about the lives of each individual pictured.
Within the same room, other pieces by various photographers line the walls, which then move into another room containing images of our home state.
Visitors are in for a different perspective when they peer at a wall holding a diverse amount of photographs with women working in many types of professions, including a factory worker and a woman working with sausage production.
Accompanying these snapshots are notes about each woman’s perspective on her job. This offers an absorbing short story that connects the images and the fascinating personal notes written by the women who make up many parts of Wisconsin’s work force.
One of the most memorable parts of the exhibit may have been enclosed within the series of cases nearing the end of the show, which held the individual pictures of everyday citizens. Around twenty five tiny photographs were neatly laid out for onlookers to interpret, where people from varying races, age groups, genders and walks of life were represented.
After looking closer at the photographs, visitors were able to see lines of script handwritten by those pictured in the images and were in for a lively and distinctive look at the lives of these people.
The photographer asked them to write something about themselves in the form of a single sentence or two, which resulted in both remarkable and humorous responses. Many people in the photographs wrote about something that defined them in their past, such as their insecurities, but many wrote about personal things that made them proud to be themselves.
One man wrote a short note on how he took pride in his friendly personality, while another woman said she liked her sense of fashion. A young boy liked the fact that he could spell a certain word, while other stories told of rough pasts.
What made this area of photographs the most fascinating was the surprise that came along with it: a single sentence attached to a small photographs allowed visitors of the exhibit a look into the lives of Wisconsinites, and left them with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
Placed in a corner, a video projected onto the wall allowed visitors to see the streets of Milwaukee from a very different perspective: from the viewpoint of a man on top of a van. The artist of this piece had driven along the streets of Milwaukee, and even Shorewood, atop a van, offering an interesting viewpoint and prompting strange looks from the people in the video itself. An interesting thing about the video was that while watching, visitors were able to take note of certain places and landmarks, but upon further thinking, were not able to necessarily place it on a map.
The Postcards from America: Milwaukee exhibit was able to capture the different parts of Wisconsin in the form of the photograph, and was surely worth the visit. While offering recognizable and connectable stories, the show also gave valuable insight into the everyday people of our home state.
by Celeste Carroll