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Two exhibitions opening at MIAD will start conversations about changing economic industries in America; reimagining everyday objects through design

Oct 15, 2018

MILWAUKEE (October 15, 2018) – Two new exhibitions open this fall at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD): “Steel Genesis: Sandra Gould Ford” takes you on a journey of a city’s declining working class industry and the strength of its workers, and “Spectacular Vernacular” reimagines objects through design, asking how they can be designed to address hopes and fears. Special programming and events include:

  • Steel Genesis: Sandra Gould Ford, Opening Reception Friday, October 19, 5 – 9 p.m. during Fall Gallery Night in the Historic Third Ward. (Sandra will be at MIAD on a date TBD in November.)
  • Spectacular Vernacular Opening Reception, Thursday, November 8, 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Spectacular Vernacular Curators Panel Discussion, Tuesday, November 27, 7 p.m., moderated by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21st-Century Design Monica Obniski


Footbridges to strip mills over Parkway East and Second Avenue

Footbridges to strip mills over Parkway East and Second Avenue

On view October 19 – December 8 in the Frederick Layton Gallery. Sandra Gould Ford’s photographs, writings and documents examine the industrial working class and the economic and social losses resulting from the steel industry’s decline. Ford created the photographic work during and after her employment at one of the Pittsburgh area’s oldest and largest steel mills.

“Steel is a metal that, unlike other metals, must be made by human beings,” said Ford. “We are all made of basic materials, but can turn ourselves into something amazing.”

Ford points out that her exhibition is as much about “mettle” as “metal,” as it highlights the idea that even as the steel industry declined, the people and the land have persevered and started anew. Additionally, this exhibit is an invitation to look at the past in a new context and appreciate the greatness of the steel industry.

Sounds to Live By

Sounds to Live By

Photographs of LaToya Ruby Frazier are also on view in this exhibit. Frazier presents “Art as Transformation: Using Photography for Social Change” as part of the MIAD Creativity Series Nov. 14., 6 p.m.


On view November 3, 2018 – March 2, 2019 in MIAD’s Brooks Stevens Gallery. This exhibition examines designed objects and their functions through a journey of observation, experimentation and speculation.

Wheelbarrow totem

Wheelbarrow totem

Married British duo Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth of Parsons & Charlesworth design studio explore the rhetorical and practical opportunities of designed objects, encouraging a broadening of the conventional definition and understanding of the designer’s role.

“We want to start conversations about design,” said Parsons. “How can we imagine objects to be different? Beyond need, how can we design them to address hopes and fears?”

MIAD’s galleries are free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. More information at