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The Body Problem: MIAD alum discusses new exhibition

Amy Cannestra ’06 (Communication Design) is opening her newest solo exhibition at Appleton’s Trout Museum of Art. “The Body Problem” explores self-acceptance and how we view our own bodies through a multitude of media. The exhibition celebrates its opening night on Friday, January 12, 2024 during an event that is free and open to the public, as well as a Meet the Artist event on February 23, 2024. “The Body Problem” will run through May 12, 2024.

“A lot of my work has to do with the self-acceptance of the body that we live in,” explains Cannestra, who is also part of the Madison-based group SPOOKY BOOBS. “How we see ourselves and how we portray ourselves can be very different things. We put a lot of expectations onto our bodies. It’s not always positive.” Cannestra’s work in “The Body Problem” is on display in her first solo exhibition at the Trout Museum of Art.

“If we had to put together our ideal selves, what would be that ideal self? Is it for a certain time, is it for a certain place, is it for a certain audience? All those questions make the ideal very different from scenario to scenario,” continues Cannestra. “The Body Problem” is a series of six two-minute looping videos displayed on monitor screens through the gallery space, as well as small, square books. At the back of the gallery, the videos are projected onto a full-size wall.

“The different medias are because that’s how we experience everything now: through different lenses,” explains Cannestra. “How we present ourselves on the screen is very different than how we present ourselves in the physical form and the printed form. It’s this investigation of the body through the different ways we communicate.”

As an artist, Cannestra is no stranger to letting her various artistic practices intersect with one another. For example, she recently opened TASK Creative, a short-term rental and creative services space for Milwaukee-area artists. Her role as Milwaukee Art Museum’s graphic designer and her undergraduate education in Communication Design work together with her fine art practice, which she pursued at UW-Madison in their MFA program.

“I don’t think that either one can exist without the other one,” says Cannestra. “The communication designer in me is really focused on, am I communicating everything right to the audience? Is it visually compelling to a certain audience? And then the visual, fine artist part of me is asking the opposite way. Am I saying what I need to say through the visuals?”

Cannestra continues, “When I was at MIAD, I would be the first person to say graphic design isn’t fine art! It was this very narrow-minded idea that graphic design is just advertising. But really, it’s such a great way to speak to people in mediums that are sometimes just a little bit easier to dive into.”

Coming up next, Cannestra has taken on another solo exhibition—with entirely new work—coming up at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI in mid-January. “I must be missing something. A solo exhibition by Amy Cannestra” runs January 25 – February 25, 2024 at the Joyce Paddock Bliss Gallery, Carroll University, Waukesha, WI.

View “The Body Problem” at the Trout Museum of Art through May 12, 2024. Keep up with Cannestra on her website and learn more about MIAD’s Fine Art and Communication Design programs!

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