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MIAD Creativity Series Archive

View previous Creativity Series hosted at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). For information about MIAD’s Creativity Series and upcoming events, visit

 Click on a bar to find out more about previous visiting creatives.
Want to relive a past Creativity Series visit? Listen to the available podcasts.
Asher Israelow - Furniture Designer | November 16, 2016
CS asher web 2Asher Israelow is the next visiting creative for the MIAD Creativity Series, Wednesday, November 16, 6 p.m.
Furniture and building designer Asher Israelow joins the MIAD Creativity Series November 15 – 17. A public presentation, “Asher Israelow: Craft and Lore,” is Wednesday, November 16, 6 p.m.
Israelow says his talk will “be an exhibition of my studio process and projects where inlay, mapping and storytelling are major components of the work.”
“I am attracted to most art forms and have a hard time distinguishing art from design. I think when design is done well, it becomes art.”
Asher Israelow

CS asher israelow headshotAbout Asher Israelow
Asher Israelow was born in New York City and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with degrees in fine arts and architecture. Back in New York, he currently works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, designing buildings and building furniture.
Drawing on his training as an architect and a love of lore, Asher designs work for the modern explorer. All the materials are ethically and locally sourced, building upon the importance of origins.

CS asher jewel table

Each piece narrates the story of its materials, with an honest approach to joinery and a touch of conceit. The studio produces all original and small batch pieces designed to last for generations. The work emphasizes a handcrafted and emergent vision of contemporary culture.

Israelow was named a 30 under 30 Designer by Forbes Art & Style in 2012.

Selected publications include:

Image: Jewel Table; American Black Walnut, Solid Brass Details; 109 x 42 x 30″

Amos Kennedy - Print Artist | November 11, 2015

Amos Kennedy joined the MIAD Creativity Series Wednesday, November 11, 6 p.m.

cs kennedy coffee black web

Kennedy left his corporate job at the age of 40 to pursue his passion for printing and continues to redefine the rules of printmaking everyday. In 2008, a critically acclaimed documentary, “Proceed and Be Bold!,” was produced about him by BrownFinch Films.

image | MIADDuring his week-long visit to MIAD beginning Monday, November 9, Kennedy was an artist in action. The community was invited to witness him printing in public spaces and view his variety of prints that tiled the walls of MIAD and were for sale during the public presentation. Kennedy’s talk discussed the nature of printmaking and the content of his work.

Kennedy enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study under Walter Hamady, a legendary book designer and papermaker, and earned an MFA in 1997. He later taught graphic design at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana Universiry, before heading back home to the Deep South and dedicating himself to printing full time.

Kennedy’s Talk on November 11

Robert Sabuda - Pop-up book artist | February 15, 2015

sabuda-headshotWith generous sponsorship by Eileen and Barry Mandel, Robert Sabuda joined the MIAD Creativity Series as the seventh visiting creative on Wednesday, February 25, 6 p.m.

Sabuda’s public presentation, “The Science and Art of Paper Engineering,” was from 6 – 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A moderated by Bonnie North, WUWM Lake Effect Producer and Co-Host. A reception and Boswell Book Company hosted book signing was from 7:15 – 8 p.m.

The presentation, reception and book signing were on MIAD’s Fourth Floor, 273 E. Erie Street.

MIAD Professor Christiane Grauert says, “Robert Sabuda persistently pushes the boundaries of what is feasible within pop-up design. He will provide an insight into his challenging negotiation of artistic vision and engineering considerations.”

About Robert Sabuda:
Robert Sabuda is a #1 New York Times best-selling children’s book creator, leading children’s pop-up book artist and paper engineer. Sabuda’s recent books, such as those depicting the stories of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan have received wide popular and critical acclaim.


He is a two-time recipient of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award and has over five million books in print. He is the co-creator of the Encyclopedia Prehistorica pop-up trilogy, which has been translated into over 25 languages worldwide.

Sabuda appears regularly on the television programs The Today ShowGood Morning America and Martha Stewart where he shares his enthusiasm for creativity, children’s book art and literature. He has also been an associate professor at Pratt, where he began a program in Paper Engineering that continues to encourage the next generation of paper artists.

He lives and works in New York. Arrangements for the appearance of Robert Sabuda made through Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau, New York, NY.


bbc-logo-webSpecial information about the book signing, hosted by Boswell Book Company:
A variety of Robert Sabuda’s books were available for purchase to have signed, including his newest release, The Dragon & The Knight: A Pop-Up Misadventure. Book prices range from $18-35.

Event attendees were able to bring their own books to be signed. Boswell pre-ordered books were available at the event by ordering form through

RSVP preferred, but not required to

Watch a video of Sabuda’s work.
More information on Robert Sabuda.

Mark Dziersk - Managing Director, LUNAR Design | November 12, 2014

November 12 – 13: Mark Dziersk, Managing Director at LUNAR Design

“Design Thinking, Creativity & Risk” 

Wednesday, November 12, 6 p.m.
dziersk-headshotMIAD’s Fourth Floor
Sponsored in part by the Bert L. & Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust

Mark Dziersk is the Managing Director at LUNAR Design, based in Chicago. He is a recognized expert in industrial design and brand management, and has worked for a large range of clients including Hewlett Packard, Unilever, Dell and Nestle. Dziersk is also a sought-after contributor to Fast Company magazine, holds more than 100 patents and has won numerous awards, including IDEA Gold and ID Magazine Best of Category. He is past president of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), and the current editor of Innovation Magazine for IDSA.

Fast facts:

  • cs-dziersk-speakerKnown for reinventing and revitalizing brands through the use of design
  • Designed Dove’s award-winning “Real Beauty” campaign
  • Fast Company’s blogger for “Design Finds You”

Recent articles by Dziersk include:
Head Before Hands: When Design Meets Strategy
Brand Bloodlines

More information on Mark Dziersk.

Dana Arnett - Founding Principal & CEO, VSA Partners | March 25, 2014

The MIAD Creativity Series returned Tuesday, March 25, 6 p.m. with Dana Arnett for “Change is Possible.

dana-arnett-cs-headshotThe event, which was free and open to the public, was held on MIAD’s Third Floor, with a reception following.

Chicago-based Dana Arnett, founding principal and CEO at VSA Partners, propelled the fifth installment of the Creativity Series with his leadership in international branding, design and enterprise.

In a Design Thinking Out Loud video series, Arnett says, “You have to have a creative mindset to solve today’s complex business problems.”

“The work of VSA Partners doesn’t stop at amazing answers. Instead their work creates strategic advantages and takes a leadership position for not only shaping external perceptions, but building and strengthening internal culture from a renewed self understanding. Clients of VSA often learn something profoundly exciting and rewarding that they didn’t realize about themselves and what their true potential is!”
Michael Davidson, MIAD Chair of Fine Arts

Arnett is a founding Principal and CEO of the internationally recognized firm of VSA Partners, headquartered in Chicago, with offices in New York City and Detroit. Arnett and his colleagues are known for creating award-winning design programs, digital and interactive initiatives, and brand marketing solutions for a diverse roster of clients including: Harley-Davidson, IBM, General Electric, Coca-Cola, Thomas Reuters and Nike.

Over the course of his 30 years in the field, Arnett and the firm have been globally recognized by over 60 competitions and designations including: Communication Arts, AIGA, Graphis, ID, The LA Film Festival, the AR100 and the American Marketing Association. Arnett was a 1999 inductee into the Alliance Graphique Internationale, and holds the honor of being named to the ID40 – who has cited him as one of the 40 most important people shaping design internationally. He was recently announced as the 2014 recipient of the AIGA Medal, the highest honor of the design profession.

Arnett is a former member of the AIGA National Board of Directors and he currently serves as a board member of the Architecture and Design Society of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is also active as an advisor and member of the business development and venture capital group, Cueball Collective, who fund and incubate consumer and socially driven ventures.





Image courtesy of Dana Arnett.
Watch a video about VSA Partners, “Dana Arnett: Beyond Design.”


Nicola López & Gandalf Gaván - International Artists | November 12 - 15, 2013

International artists Nicola López and Gandalf Gaván engaged the MIAD and Milwaukee communities November 12 – 15 during the continuation of the MIAD Creativity Series.

The two world-traveled and exhibiting artists visited classes and studios of foundations students to seniors. On Thursday, November 14, 6 – 7:30 p.m. at MIAD, they participated in public Artist Talks and a Community Conversation moderated by Bonnie North, Arts Producer/Co-Host of Milwaukee Public Radio’s Lake Effect (WUWM 89.7).

lopezheadshotNicola López
Born in Santa Fe, Nicola López currently lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y. Through her work in installation, drawing and printmaking, she describes and reconfigures our contemporary – primarily urban – landscape.

cs-lopez-closed-systemsLópez’s focus on describing “place” stems from an interest in urban planning, architecture and anthropology, fueled by time spent working and traveling in different landscapes. her site-specific work, Un-building Things is on view at the Balcony Lounge at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Watch Nicola López creating the site-specific installation for the Balcony Lounge at the Met.

Click here to view more of her works, bio, artist’s statement and exhibitions.
Click here to see López’s 2013 exhibition, Land of Illusion, at New York’s Pace Prints. Watch her create prints for this exhibition.

gavanheadshotGandalf Gaván

Gandalf Gaván was born in Berlin, Germany, and raised between Germany and New Mexico. He has lived and worked extensively in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Morocco and Germany; currently residing in Brooklyn.

Among his extensive exhibitions and accomplishments, he is the first non-Mexican artist to exhibit work at the National Museum of Fine Art in Mexico City. Re(a)prendido was on view from December 10, 2012 – February 28, 2013. Read about the artist and exhibit here.

cs-gavan-reaprenAccording to the October Gallery in London, where in 2011 Gaván exhibited Knots, “the artist’s works [created in his studio in Oaxaca, Mexico] are rendered through a prolific use of media – painting, drawing, glass, neon, anamorphic mirror, photography, ceramics and weaving … projecting a dazzling energy.”

Click here for his resume.
Click here to read his bio.

First image: Nicola López
Second image: Nicola López, Closed System II, woodcut on mylar, construction lights, zip ties, tape; 11 x 20 x 20′
Third image: Gandalf Gaván
Fourth image: Gandalf Gaván, re(aprendido), 2012, neon, glass, mirrors, paintings by Jose Juarez, 30 x 30 x 60′

View work from the artists on flickr. 

James Ludwig - Vice President of Global Design, Steelcase Inc. | April 23, 2013

series-ludwig-headshot-webIndustrial designer, architect and brand expert James Ludwig continued the MIAD Creativity Series with a public presentation and conversation – “Curiosity and Empathy as Essential to Design” – April 23, 6 – 7:15 p.m.

His visit was hosted in collaboration with Discovery World Center for Innovation, where the free, public presentation was held.

Ludwig is vice president of global design for Steelcase Inc., a global leader in the office furniture industry with a portfolio focusing on architecture, furniture and technology products.

series-ludwig-work-webIn a video interview for the Business Innovation Factory, Ludwig said of Steelcase, “We are as much concerned about what goes on around our products as the products themselves – broader social issues, cultural issues, anthropological issues, all those intertwined things.”

Before joining Steelcase in 1999, Ludwig was a founding partner of bold:architects.designers., an interdisciplinary design consultancy. There he promoted teams of architects and designers – both product and graphic – to realize diverse projects such as new buildings and renovations in the reconstruction of a reunited Berlin, furniture and office products, and graphic programs for international clients.

Madeleine Lubar said, “The college is honored to host an international designer of James Ludwig’s repute as the third ‘creative’ to participate in the MIAD Creativity Series.

series-ludwig-work-2-webBy joining artists Dana Schutz and Ryan Johnson, who visited MIAD in March, and Mark Rios, who visited in November of 2012, James Ludwig elevates the series’ mission of enriching the experiences of MIAD students while engaging the community in new ways of thinking about, and appreciating, the arts and the world of design.”

In addition to his April 23 evening presentation at Discovery World, Ludwig engaged with MIAD students on that day, and on April 24, when he participated in MIAD Define Day, an integral part of the 2013 Senior Exhibition encompassing campus-wide inquiry and discussion into the seniors’ journey and the MIAD experience.

Read James Ludwig’s bio.

View a series of 25-second videos with James Ludwig, including “Design is a full contact sport.”

Have 3 quick questions to ask James Ludwig about integrated design?

Dana Schutz & Ryan Johnson - Acclaimed New York-based artists | March 19 - 20, 2013

schutz-piano-webThe MIAD Creativity Series continues with the visit of acclaimed New York-based artists Dana Schutz and Ryan Johnson. In keeping with the mission of the Creativity Series, they will engage with MIAD students and with the general public. Their visit is generously supported by the Bert L. & Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust.

Schutz will give an Artist Talk on Tuesday, March 19, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

dana-schutz-headshotJohnson will give an Artist Talk on Wednesday, March 20, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

The talks, free and open to the public, will be held in MIAD’s painting studios.

Assistant Professor of Painting Kristopher Benedict, who was instrumental in bringing the artists to MIAD, said, “The artists create highly individualized work with an innovative use of fiction and a strong connections to art history.”

ryan-johnson-headshotHe described Dana Schutz “as one of the more internationally recognized and influential artists to emerge in the last decade. Full of color and pictorial invention, her paintings, drawings and prints depict narrative scenes ranging from the ecstatic to the grotesque to the unsettled everyday.”

Ryan Johnson’s sculptures, said Benedict, “blur the distinctions between the real and imagined and offer us a brilliant reflection on the process of representation. He works with a variety of approaches and materials, creating art imbued with a sense of play that is in turn personal and monumental.”


Schutz is represented by Petzel, New York, and Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin.

Johnson is represented by the Suzanne Geiss Company in New York.

View works from the artists (who are also a married couple) and read their bios.
View Schutz’ recent exhibition of paintings at the Denver Art Museum, and of prints and drawings at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.
Read about Johnson’s installation, Self Storage, in the New York Times.
Read the cover story about Schutz in Art in America Magazine.

Top image: Dana Schutz, “Piano in the Rain,” 2012, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York
Second image: Dana Schutz
Third image: Ryan Johnson
Fourth image: Dana Schutz, “Small Apartment,” 2012, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York
Fifth image: Ryan Johnson, “Rocking Horse,” 2012, cedar, plywood, acrylic paint; from Self Storage, Suzanne Geiss Company. Photo: Mattu Placek.

Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA - Principal, Rios Clementi Hale Studios | November 13 - 16, 2012


“I’ve visited many art and design schools around the world and found an atmosphere and confidence at MIAD that are unique… Students have a clear and well-deserved sense of themselves and their work, and that is a rare thing.”

Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA, founding principal of Rios Clementi Hale Studio, concluded with these thoughts during his visit to MIAD, which culminated in a Community Presentation attended by more than 200 members of the MIAD and Milwaukee communities.

During his visit to MIAD’s Third Ward campus from November 13 – 16 for the first MIAD Creativity Series, Rios engaged with students in classes, critiques and projects spanning the fine arts and design disciplines, and the GEHC + MIAD Compassion Project, and said, “There is diversity, passion, curiosity, confidence, nurturing and rigor here. Cherish your culture!”

Selected photos from Rios’ visit are available on flickr.

rios-lubars-web“Mark Rios is internationally renowned for redefining the boundaries of design innovation,” said newly elected Board of Trustees Chair Madeleine Lubar. “Words such as ‘culture,’ ‘the storytelling of place,’ ‘community,’ ‘urban responsibility,’ ‘joy’ and ‘iconic form making’ help describe him and his multidisciplinary talents, which will create a one-of-a-kind experience for the college and community.”

rios-collage-webAward-winning faculty joined Rios for the community event:

  • Jill Sebastian, installation, interdisciplinary and public artist, Professor of Sculpture at MIAD;
  • Eric Vogel, architect, designer and Layton Art Collection president, MIAD Chair of 3D Design and Professor of Interior Architecture and Design; and
  • Bonnie North, arts producer and co-host of Lake Effect, WUWM 89.7, moderated.

Members of both the Milwaukee and MIAD communities were intrigued and engaged, valuing Rios’ perspectives on design issues and solutions related to every community, including how to incorporate and represent community views and culture into design.

One student asked the panel about advice for a freshman, and a recent alum in the audience answered that the student already had 18 years of experience and all the tools needed to succeed, to which Rios added, “Be fearless.”

Throughout the visit, Rios drew on his and his studio’s award-winning reputation for collaboration across an unprecedented range of design disciplines: architecture, landscape, interiors, urban design, graphics, branding, planning and product design.

Clients include entertainment studios and venues, cultural institutions, schools and universities, city agencies and departments, retail and restaurant establishments and individuals. Commissions have ranged from the design of public parks – such as the new Grand Park in Los Angeles – plazas and streets, to private gardens, furniture and products. Get to know Mark Rios.


Read the news release to discover why Madeleine Lubar and her husband, David Lubar, provided a grant to found the MIAD Creativity Series.

Read about Art & Architecture Critic Mary Louise Schumacher’s Creativity Series experience in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

First image: Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA; photo credit: Jim Simmons
Second image: Rios with Madeleine and David Lubar
Third image: Rios with Eric Vogel’s Senior Design Studio class; Rios with students in Will Pergl’s Senior Thesis Seminar; MIAD Creativity Series signage

In the inaugural year of the MIAD Creativity Series, renowned creatives Mark Rios, Dana Schutz & Ryan Johnson, and James Ludwig shared insights, participated in class critiques and gave presentations to the Milwaukee and MIAD communities.