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MIAD Sculpture Lab pushes senior’s ‘boundaries of creation’

The transformation of molten metal to solid metal and the opportunity to “experiment and push the boundaries of creation” in the Sculpture Lab at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) have always filled senior Caroline Calvano with “amazement and inspiration.”

That creativity and inspiration are most recently seen in Worthy of Adoration – Calvano’s senior capstone project in MIAD’s Fine Art + New Studio Practice major.

“I knew I wanted to work in metal for my thesis, because of how much I enjoy the process and the strong and monumental feeling that metal sculpture evokes,” Calvano says. “I also love to represent myself, and the body in a strange humorous way, specifically by using my belly button. I insert my belly button into the sculptures … incorporating a delicate, feminized part of the body into sturdy metal. The belly helps me embrace feminine power and showcase subversive femininity.”

“I was [also] inspired by sacred ornate metal objects, often seen in the Catholic Church. I am drawn to the over-the-top maximalist use of ornamentation and beauty given to precious, holy objects. I use some ornamentation and religious symbols in my work, and I emphasize beauty. I’ve also researched many piercings and I’m influenced by the way piercings embed jewelry into the body for the purposes of beauty and aesthetic. It’s been so fun to see my thesis work come together and evolve with these themes.”

Calvano’s sculptural work is on view with that of 210 seniors at the MIAD 2024 Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11.

Calvano says they chose to go to MIAD because “I wanted to go to a college where there was a smaller tight-knit community, where I could have stronger relationships with my peers and professors. I also really like the artsy feeling of the city of Milwaukee. I chose Fine Art + NSP because I enjoy the freedom to experiment. I wanted to branch out from my background in drawing and explore different ways of art making.”

“I have had many great opportunities to learn and expand my knowledge on so many skills,” says Calvano. “Learning to weld and cast metal has opened so many doors in my practice, allowing me to create things I never envisioned for myself. Sculpture Lab faculty Mira Rychner and professor Will Pergl have supported me immensely and created a space where metalworking is approachable.”

After graduation, Calvano is “excited to continue to sustain my art practice without the structure of school. I’m interested to see how my work changes in scale and material with less access to MIADs facilities. I am looking forward to becoming more involved in the Milwaukee art community.”

As for MIAD’s next 50 years, Calvano says, “I can see future art and design students working more collaboratively and across mediums. I think students will have a higher understanding of programs and machinery. I could see the overlap of craft and technology together in future students’ work.”

MIAD Galleries are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 273 E. Erie St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Learn more about MIAD’s Fine Art + New Studio Practice major. Visit MIAD.

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