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Overture Center gallery hosts MIAD alumni

Two alumni from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) are exhibiting work at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts. Stacey Steinberg’s ’04 (Drawing) paired installation “Un/Inhabited” is in Gallery I, while Cassandra Smith’s ’06 (Sculpture) work is part of a group exhibition in Playhouse Gallery.

In “Nature’s Kaleidoscope: Patterns of Fragility and Resilience,” Smith and five other artists explore a deep connection with the natural world and human systems. “Nature’s Kaleidoscope” runs through March 3, 2024 in the Playhouse Gallery. Read more about Smith’s work and experience at MIAD.

“Un/Inhabited” explores the intersection of habitation and self. Steinberg, currently MIAD’s executive director of marketing and communication, worked with artist Stephanie Barenz for the paired exhibition. Barenz explores the link between our external surroundings and inner landscapes inspired by her daily walks near water. Meanwhile, Steinberg depicts homes that are in flux, embodying resurrection through destructive forces. Together, both artists evolve boundaries where water and fire merge. “Un/Inhabited” is on view until March 10, 2024.

“I was thrilled to be paired with Stephanie Barenz for our exhibition,” says Steinberg. “When Stephanie and I first met, it was really interesting to discuss how our work pushed and pulled one another, hers emanating light and mine weaving its way through darkness … Stephanie and I discussed the duality of our work, spaces that feel simultaneously full and empty, and came up with ‘Un/Inhabited.’”

Gallery I is located along the pathway that visitors take to enter the theater spaces within the Overture Center, so “the works have high visibility to a wide variety of visitors,” says Steinberg. “The positioning of the works across from each other in the space invites the viewer to contemplate the tranquility of water and serene landscapes juxtaposed with the jarring silence of destroyed, and sometimes reconstructed, houses. It challenges one to look in and out.”

Collagraph, a printmaking process that results in rich, tactile surfaces, forms the foundation for much of Steinberg’s body of work for “Un/Inhabited.” “Pieces realize their own destruction and resurrection in line with the content,” explains Steinberg. “I’ve also more recently been working with collage and constructing structures that appear to exist but would lack the stability to do so in real life.”

After graduating from MIAD, Steinberg showed and sold her artwork extensively, but took a break after becoming a mother. “It’s really important to find a balance as a practicing artist. I have three children, a supportive partner and a full-time career,” she says. “Now that my children are getting older, I’m establishing my studio again, participating in residencies and putting my work back into the public sphere.”

Steinberg continues, “Being an artist, a maker, is like low voltage current… it’s always on, always pulsing and the drive to create is a part of my life. I’m truly excited about the next chapter of my work and the opportunities in front of me.”

In addition to showing work at the Overture Center, Steinberg is developing a solo show to be installed in 2026 at the James Watrous Gallery, housed in the Overture Center’s top-floor gallery space. She is also a recipient of MIAD’s inaugural Ruth Arts + MIAD Artist Grant.

Keep up with Steinberg on her website, view “Un/Inhabited” until March 10, 2024, purchase artwork from Overture Center galleries and learn more about MIAD’s Fine Art + New Studio Practice program.

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