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MIAD Creativity Series

MIAD Creativity Series. Pao Houa Her: "Freshly Cut Plastic Flowers: The Hmong-American Dream"

Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 6 p.m.

Pao Houa Her
“Freshly Cut Plastic Flowers: The Hmong-American Dream”
MIAD, 273 E. Erie St. Milwaukee

Free admission. Tickets are required for this event due to limited seating. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

About the presentation

Pao Houa Her – an award-winning Hmong American photographer and Guggenheim Fellow – fled the northern jungles of Laos with her family when she was a baby, crossed the Mekong on her mother’s back, lived in the refugee camps in Thailand, and landed in America on a silver metal bird in the mid-1980s.

Her’s presentation will share stories, images, and observations centered on the Hmong American experience and the complex realities of diasporic communities.

Her is an assistant professor in Photography and Moving Images at the University of Minnesota. She holds an MFA in Photography from the Yale University School of Art (2012) and a BFA in Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2009).

Her’s lightbox photographs are on view as part of Sculpture Milwaukee’s 2023/24 exhibition, Actual Fractals, Act I. Their installation locations include along MIAD’s Riverwalk, outside the MIAD Gallery at the Avenue, and at the southeast corner of Wisconsin Ave. & Broadway St. in Downtown Milwaukee.

Sculpture Milwaukee

Generously sponsored by the Bert L. and Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust with additional support from Sculpture Milwaukee.


“Through the MIAD Creativity Series, the college will bring distinctive and internationally renowned creatives to Milwaukee from a broad spectrum of the visual arts to enrich the experiences of MIAD students while engaging the community in new ways of thinking about, and appreciating, the arts and the world of design.”

MIAD Past Board Chair Madeleine Kelly Lubar

Pao Houa Her
An electric sign with a photograph of a jungle installed on the Milwaukee Riverwalk.

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Want to relive a past Creativity Series visit? Listen to the available podcasts.
Cas Holman - "The Power of Play: How We Can Use Imagination and Curiosity to Change the World"| February 15, 2023

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 6 p.m.
Cas Holman – “The Power of Play: How We Can Use Imagination and Curiosity to Change the World”
MIAD, 273 E. Erie St. Milwaukee

Free admission. Tickets are required for this event due to limited seating. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

About the presentation

Award-winning toy designer and educator Cas Holman illustrates how play is a fundamental element of creativity. Using her own design work and decades of observing and facilitating play, Holman explains how play inspires unexpected outcomes and allows for new discoveries.

Holman is founder and principal at toy company Heroes will Rise, and the designer of the world-renowned RIGAMAJIG. Her work can be seen at

Generously sponsored by the Ruth Foundation for the Arts.

vanessa german presents "citizen artist" | November 10, 2022

Thursday, November 10, 2022, 6 p.m.
vanessa german presents “citizen artist”
MIAD, 273 E. Erie St. Milwaukee

Free admission. Tickets are required for this event due to limited seating. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

This event is generously supported by Bert L. and Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust.

About the presentation

Sculptor, painter, writer, activist, performer, poet and visual storyteller, vanessa german is known for her sculptural assemblages or “Power Figures.” german will offer an intimate, interactive talk that journeys through the worlds of her practice as a visual and performance artist.

In conjunction with Then as Now: Woodland Pattern 1980-2022 exhibition on view through December 3, 2022.

Note: No audio recording, video recording or photography is permitted during this event.

About vanessa german
(b. Milwaukee, WI 1976)

vanessa german is a self-taught citizen artist working across sculpture, performance, communal rituals, immersive installation, and photography, in order to repair and reshape disrupted systems, spaces, and connections. The artist’s practice proposes new models for social healing, utilizing creativity and tenderness as vital forces to reckon with the historical and ongoing catastrophes of structural racism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, resource extraction, and misogynoir.

A visual storyteller, german utilizes assemblage and mixed media, combining locally found objects to build protective ritualistic structures known as her power figures or tar babies. Modeled on Congolese Nkisi sculptures and drawing on folk art practices, they are embellished with materials including beading, glass, fabric, and sculpted wood, and come into existence at the axis on which Black power, spirituality, mysticism and feminism converge.

german’s artistic practice is intertwined with and inextricable from her dedicated role in activism and community leadership. In 2011, german founded the Love Front Porch, an arts initiative for the women, children, and families of the local neighborhood that began after she moved her studio practice onto the front steps of her home. Three years later, in 2014, german opened the ARThouse, which combines a community studio, a large garden, an outdoor theatre, and an artist residency.

german has been awarded the 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, the 2017 Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2018 United States Artist Grant and, most recently, the 2018 Don Tyson Prize from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Her work is held in private and public collections including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Akron Art Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, Montclair Art Museum, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Everson Museum of Art, Figge Art Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

Salvador Jiménez-Flores - "Art, Education & Citizenship: A Creative Journey" | November 17, 2021
MIAD Creativity Series, Salvador Jiménez-Flores. Nov. 17, 2023.

MIAD Creativity Series welcomes Salvador Jiménez-Flores

Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 6 p.m.
vanessa german presents “citizen artist”
MIAD, 273 E. Erie St. Milwaukee

In-person at MIAD | Free & open to the public
Generously supported by Sculpture Milwaukee.

About the presentation

Salvador Jiménez-Flores shares his journey as an artist, an educator and a citizen. From making art as a coping mechanism as an immigrant teenager to the art he makes today, he explores the politics of identity and addresses issues of colonization, migration, “the other” and futurism. Jiménez-Flores has work on view along MIAD’s Riverwalk as part of Sculpture Milwaukee. 

Titus Kaphar - Making Space for Black History: Amending the Landscape of American Art | February 5, 2020

Wednesday, February 5, 2020, 6 p.m.

Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar presents “Making Space for Black History: Amending the Landscape of American Art”
MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space. Free admission. .

Generous support by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s African American Art Alliance and the Layton Visiting Artist Fund.

About the presentation

Titus Kaphar confronts history and the canon of Western art head on – exposing troubling histories of our nation’s past and amplifying the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves.

About Titus Kaphar

A painter, sculptor and activist, Kaphar’s work is in public collections worldwide and his numerous accolades include:

  • 2018 MacArthur Fellow
  • 2018 Art for Justice Fund grantee
  • 2018 Rappaport Prize winner
  • 2016 Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist
  • 2015 Creative Capital grantee

Kaphar’s artworks capture the spirit of social justice and change in America today (exemplified in his TIME cover portrait of the Ferguson protests).

The public presentation for the MIAD Creativity Series is part of a short residency at MIAD, during which Kaphar will engage with MIAD students in the classroom as well as with Milwaukee Public School students.

Strange Fire Collective - Institutional Questions/Questioning Institutions | October 25, 2019
Strange Fire Collective

Strange Fire Collective founding members (clockwise from top left): Hamidah Glasgow, Jess T. Dugan, Rafael Soldi and Zora J Murff

Friday, October 25, 2019, 6 p.m.

Presented by the four founding members of the Strange Fire Collective – Jess T. Dugan, Rafael Soldi, Zora J Murff and Hamidah Glasgow
MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space
Free admission. Seating is first-come, first-served. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

About the presentation

The Strange Fire artist collective founders address three topics – policing bodies, political action and access to power – through the works and words of artists, curators and writers from unique and diverse perspectives.

About Strange Fire Collective

The Strange Fire artist collective, formed in 2015 by Jess T. Dugan, Rafael Soldi, Zora J Murff and Hamidah Glasgow, is a group of interdisciplinary artists, curators and writers focused on work that engages with current social and political forces. They seek to create a venue for work that critically questions the dominant social hierarchy and are dedicated to highlighting work made by women, people of color, and queer and trans artists.

Their collective practice is centered around increasing the visibility of meaningful work and creating dialogue and community through publications, exhibitions and events. They are committed to making their projects accessible, affordable and socially relevant.

The public presentation for the MIAD Creativity Series is part of a short residency at MIAD, during which the Strange Fire Collective members will engage with students in the classroom.

Related Exhibitions

Strange Fire Collective’s “In this body of mine” exhibition is on view October 18 – December 7, 2019 in MIAD’s Frederick Layton Gallery. The exhibition is generously supported in part by the Mary L. Nohl Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The exhibition features works of 14 Strange Fire Collective artists and questions what it means to occupy a body – and how bodies are policed – through an intersectional lens spanning gender, sexuality, race and representation. MIAD’s galleries are free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

In addition, works by Strange Fire foundation members will be on display in MIAD’s Perspectives Gallery in Room 299 at MIAD from October 18 – December 7, 2019.

Michael DelGuadio - Design++: Living at the Intersection of People and Technology | February 13, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 6 p.m.

Michael DelGaudio presents “Design++: Living at the Intersection of People and Technology”
MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space

Michael DelGaudio shares the critical role designers play in shaping how we experience new products, environments, brands and the world around us.

The MIAD Creativity Series is generously sponsored by the Bert L. & Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by Angela Colbert, Russ Jankowski and Deborah Sova.

Michael DelGaudio

Michael DelGaudio, UX Design Lead, Google

About Michael DelGaudio

Michael DelGaudio is the UX Design Lead at Google, where he leads user experience teams for Android TV and Internet of Things. His teams develop strategy and design for Google’s new and emerging products. His belief is that all products can be made better by understanding people and how they use technology.

Prior to Google, DelGaudio was Creative Director at Frog Design New York where he reinvented innovation services and worked on products, design systems and user interfaces for companies such as GE, Verizon, United Nations and Ernst & Young. He holds multiple design patents and is a frequent speaker at design and technology conferences worldwide.

DelGaudio received an undergraduate degree from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in Communication Design and a graduate degree from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. He formerly taught at the School of Visual Arts and currently serves on the Milwaukee School of Engineering industrial advisory committee. He resides in California where he enjoys sunshine, rock climbing, and running marathons.

DelGaudio’s public presentation for the MIAD Creativity Series is part of a short residency at MIAD, during which he will engage with students in the classroom.


LaToya Ruby Frazier - Art as Transformation: Using Photography for Social Change | November 14, 2018

November 14, 2018, 6 p.m.

LaToya Ruby Frazier presents “Art as Transformation: Using Photography for Social Change”
MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space
Free admission. Seating is first-come, first-served. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

About LaToya Ruby Frazier

LaToya Ruby Frazier (Image: Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine MacArthur Foundation)

For LaToya Ruby Frazier, art is a weapon—a catalyst for social justice. Her photographs and videos document today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and environmental toxicity. Bridging the personal with the social, her gorgeous work amplifies the voices of the vulnerable and transforms our sense of place and self.

Frazier was chosen by Ebony as one of its 100+ Most Powerful Women of All Time, and is a visual artist and TED Fellow. Her first book The Notion of Family received the International Center for Photography Infinity Award. Frazier has received the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

Frazier’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, with solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Seattle Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Her most recent exhibit, “On the Making of Steel Genesis,” is a profile of artist and archivist of black working-class life, Sarah Gould Ford. In The Atlantic’s Martin Luther King Jr. issue, Frazier utilized a helicopter and aerial photography techniques to capture how Memphis, Baltimore and Chicago have responded to decades of oppression.

Frazier holds a BFA in applied media arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in art photography from Syracuse University. She has studied under the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and was the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow for visual arts at the American Academy in Berlin. She is an Associate Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has previously held academic and curatorial positions at Yale University School of Art, Rutgers University and Syracuse University.

Frazier’s public presentation for the MIAD Creativity Series is part of a two-day residency at MIAD, during which she will engage with students in the classroom.

Jaime Hayon - Form Follows Function, and Then What? | February 13, 2018

Jaime Hayon, an iconic international artist-designer, joins the MIAD Creativity Series February 13-14, 2018. He gives a public presentation, “Form Follows Function, and Then What?,” February 13, 2018 at 6 p.m. in MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space. 

Generously supported by the Bert L. & Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust. Additional support provided by Tim & Sue Frautschi.

Hayon’s visit is co-hosted with the Milwaukee Art Museum. Hayon’s current exhibition, “Jaime Hayon: Technicolor,” is on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum through March 25, 2018. The museum will host an Artist Gallery Talk February 14 at 2 p.m.

jaimehayonwebAbout Jaime Hayon

With his installation projects Mediterranean Digital Baroque (2003) and Mon Cirque (2006), Jaime Hayon emerged as an artist-designer at the forefront of a new wave in contemporary design. He participated in London’s Design Week 2009 and had his first survey exhibition, Funtastico, at the Groninger Museum, in the Netherlands, in 2013.

Wallpaper magazine included Hayon in its Design Power List, featuring one hundred of the world’s most powerful players; Time magazine also lauded him as a “visionary” and one of the “most creative icons.”

Hayon has designed furniture, accessories, lighting fixtures, footwear, menswear and more for iconic brands such as Baccarat, Fritz Hansen, & Tradition, Magis, Swarovski, Whittman, Cassina and Arflex.

Photo courtesy of Hayonstudio. Portrait by Klunderbie. 

Rob Schrab - Embrace the Dumb: The Rob Schrab Experience | November 16, 2017

The MIAD Creativity Series welcomes Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated writer and director Rob Schrab November 14-16, 2017. He gives a public presentation titled “Embrace the Dumb: The Rob Schrab Experience” on Wednesday, November 15 at 6 p.m. in MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space. 

ArgosyFoundation Logo Black1Generously sponsored by the Argosy Foundation.

About Rob Schrab

robschrabheadshot1Schrab is a MIAD alumnus (’92 Illustration). He has made his mark in Hollywood writing the Oscar-nominated animated film “Monster House,” co-writing an Emmy-winning musical opening for Hugh Jackman at the “81st Academy Awards,” and co-creating the critically acclaimed “The Sarah Silverman Program” for Comedy Central. Most recently, Schrab served as Consultant Producer of FOX’s “Ghosted.”

Schrab also directed 19 episodes of “The Sarah Silverman Program,” as well as episodes of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and “Community,” Spike’s “Blue Mountain State,” Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital,” and “The Mindy Project” for Hulu, among other projects.

He conceptualized the trippy brainwashing sequence for the movie “Zoolander,” wrote/directed the internet promotion for “Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny,” produced VH1’s “Acceptable.TV” series, animated a segment for “Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show” and directed the “Crooked Teeth” music video for Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans album.

His Hollywood career launched in 1997 when the popularity of his cult comic book Scud: The Disposable Assassin was optioned by Oliver Stone and made into two video games. In 2003, Schrab co-founded Channel 101, a competitive digital festival that spawned talent such as The Lonely Island, Tim & Eric and Human Giant.

Schrab continues to write, direct and animate feature film, television and digital media. He is originally from Mayville, Wis., and currently lives in Los Angeles.

Guerrilla Girls - Feminist Activist Artists | February 22, 2017

cs guerrilla 1

They could be anyone. They could be anywhere. And after decades, the Guerrilla Girls are more relevant than ever.


Nationally-recognized feminist activist artists the Guerrilla Girls join the MIAD Creativity Series February 22 – 23, 2017, with a public presentation Wednesday, February 22, 6 p.m.

Their visit is generously sponsored by Katie Heil, Madeleine Lubar and the Bert L. and Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. RSVP preferred but not required to

“The work of the Guerrilla Girls elevates cage bar rattling to fine art.”
The New York Times

“Their material remains true, outrageous and provocative.”

From the Guerrilla Girls website:

The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists. Over 55 people have been members over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. Our anonymity keeps the focus on the issues, and away from who we might be.

We wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture. We undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked and the downright unfair.

We believe in an intersectional feminism that fights discrimination and supports human rights for all people and all genders. We have done over 100 street projects, posters and stickers all over the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Mexico City, Istanbul, London, Bilbao, Rotterdam and Shanghai, to name just a few.

We also do projects and exhibitions at museums, attacking them for their bad behavior and discriminatory practices right on their own walls, including our 2015 stealth projection about income inequality and the super rich hijacking art on the façade of the Whitney Museum in New York. Our retrospectives in Bilbao and Madrid, Guerrilla Girls 1985-2015, and our U.S. traveling exhibition “Guerrilla Girls: Not Ready To Make Nice” have attracted thousands.

More info on the Guerrilla Girls.
Watch them on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

For previous Creativity Series events, please see the MIAD Creativity Series Archive.