Why Does Creativity Matter?


Arts Wisconsin is the leading independent organization speaking up and working for the arts in Wisconsin, and for the power, benefit and impact of the arts, creativity and imagination and the role these play in nearly every aspect of human life.  Everyone is creative in some way, and when creativity is recognized and used in business, education, government, and more, it positively affects productivity, innovation, and ultimately- success. Creativity can manifest itself in intangible thought as well as in work that is a physical product. Creativity and creative endeavors are not reserved for a special few.  Moments of creativity do not usually arrive as ‘aha!’ moments, but as ongoing, thoughtful reinvention or reimaging. When societies promote and invest in creativity in the everyday lives of citizens, the benefits spill into civic life, educational systems, and workplaces.  When companies invest in creativity and innovation, employees are happier and more inspired.

Creativity is necessary to study because it is a vital part of the human experience and encapsulates the highest level of human performance. The research of creativity provides cues for people to become better problem solvers and to think outside the box to promote ingenuity. Creative thinkers invent, innovate, educate, problem solve, inquire, and explore. For example, Wisconsin’s GE has designed its business model around creativity and innovation. It’s tagline “Imagination At Work” says it all- new ideas and forward thinking are applauded and welcomed. GE has made sure to distinguish its culture as one that balances creativity and efficiency: “Our culture is about providing everyone who works here with opportunities to exercise their responsibility, integrity, and creativity while growing themselves, their careers, and our business.”

Scientific American reports that diversity is an issue that promotes creativity. A diverse workforce strengthens personal and group creativity.  Research has shown that when teams are constructed with a wide array of people with varying backgrounds, sexual orientations, races, and genders are more likely to bring different types of information and insight to the group. Working across mindsets and backgrounds propels people to stretch their cognitive action in ways that work well for innovation and creativity.


To ask the question of how creativity manifests and works in different ways and how the brain moves through the creative process is a fickle, yet entirely interesting one. It is the differences in the types of creativity (originality and functionality) which make defining creativity as a whole a huge and monumental undertaking. Creativity is defined as consisting both of finding genius answers to difficult problems and everyday creativity with situational problem solving. There are various ways to cultivate everyday creativity by meditation, practicing observing and describing in new ways, turning off the television, free writing, and traveling. Our brain plasticity makes it possible for measures to be personally taken for improvement; in the case of creativity, stagnation is a choice.

In the classroom, teachers can allow students to branch out in ways that make them think ‘outside the box’, so to speak. The public school curriculum, in general, is very regimented and regulated with little room for creativity. When educators avoid staunch limitations for assignments and projects, students are prompted to explore new ideas and new ways to approach a topic or idea. When teachers use alternatives to the standard textbook teaching and testing by doing hands-on learning, showing videos, playing music, and promoting discussion, students retain information and get more out of their learning experience.

Even though it is necessary to think of creativity as an element not exclusively pertaining to ‘the arts,’ it has been proven time and time again that art education starting at a young age is crucial for bolstering problem solving and critical thinking skills. Arts programs including visual arts, music, performing arts, and more show extensive benefits that spill over in all areas of life. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between participation in art programs and the enhancement of reading and language development, cognitive skills, social skills (self-confidence, empathy, tolerance), and math skills.

Unfortunately, budget cuts have been taking a toll on arts programs for years, especially in urban areas with higher poverty rates. Programs like CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education) have shown that students and schools that participate in arts programs make strides toward closing achievement gaps between high and low income students. Activities like the arts also keep students in school; students who participate in the arts are less likely to drop out and more likely to aspire to attend college. As young adults and into adulthood, people with substantial arts experiences are more likely to vote, participate in political campaigns, or being involved with civic duties.

The CPS Process (Creative Problem Solving) is a method originally developed by Alex Osborn that identifies a proven way to approach a problem through the stages clarify, ideate, develop, and implement. This process is build upon the notion that everyone has the potential to be creative and that elements of creativity can be learned and improved through engaging with “brainstorming” and the creative process on a daily basis. When the CPS Processs is used and explored, thought processes are structured outside of conventional idea generation and solutions.

Everyone can participate by actively using the CPS Process, or getting involved in creating or creativity in some way. It is also important to be involved with and support legislation and funding for organizations that support artists and support creativity in everyday life, such as Arts Wisconsin. Reports and anecdotes point towards the arts and creative endeavors as necessary aspects of education for both children and adults in schools and the workplace. The studies showing correlations between creativity and excellence are very clear and very consistent, so it’s important to perceive creativity as a vital facet of our reality as humans.

Read more about the benefits of creativity and why creativity matters here:

How to Look for a Job While Holding Firm to Your Convictions

I am a recent college graduate on the hunt for employment.

It's a tedious process, but I'm putting my resume out there and applying for various jobs while also attempting (and failing) at doing something I promised myself I'd do - stay neutral and try my best to be apolitical. I thought it would be best for my job search to attempt to appeal to companies and organizations by ensuring my opinions and ideas stay hidden. I didn't want my internet presence to come off as too strong or to display certain views that a potential employer might disagree with.

The more I read and learn, the more I have a hard time remaining complacent with current events that seem to be pushing America in a direction that is dangerous and harmful. I have been reading a lot of blogs, books, and articles about how protesting, revolting, and dissenting is the way to fight back against ideologies that are oppressive and unprogressive in nature. I was especially inspired and energized by the volumes of people that showed up to Women’s Marches on January 21st not only in the U.S., but all over the world. The values and principles that this march was built directly align with my personal values, so to see so many people get out and show up to stand up for their believes was moving and refreshing. I hope the marches turn into a movement and that the people who participated continue to speak up, advocate, and affect change. 

I decided, I don't want to compromise my beliefs (which I am passionate about) in order to feel as though I am displaying myself in the most neutral, professional way possible. I want to continue to express my opinion, share articles, and share artwork that is explicitly political because I want to look back at this important time in history knowing that I was strong and empowered by standing up for inclusivity, reason, and logic, and for expressing my support for artists, musicians, creators, and actors that use their art and creativity to make their voices heard. Artists have an important job to do coming up, and I'm proud to follow artists who aren't afraid to be activists, as well. Art and activism go hand-in-hand. Artists that are inspired by discontent, politics, and current events are sure to have a lot of material to draw upon. 


Here are some important articles and pieces of art that I feel are important to read and think about:





Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger

What I Learned In College

In college I...


Improved my ability to ask questions and find information

Improved my ability to evaluate relevant information from multiple perspectives

Improved my ability to use or see information in ways that are new, original, and imaginative

Improved my ability to read complex material for a deeper understanding

Improved my ability to use a variety of search strategies to find information relevant for a particular purpose

Improved my ability to solve problems using strategies to achieve a desired result or goal

Improved my knowledge of social issues at both local and global levels

Improved my ability to understand and comfortably interact with people from cultures different from my own

Improved my ability to think and behave in ways that are fair and ethical

Improved my ability to be a lifelong learner by remaining curious, taking the initiative to learn new things, and reflect on what I know and what I would like to know

Improved my ability to make connections across different subject areas

Grappled with major issues or big questions that are important in life and society

Telling Wisconsin's Stories: Waterfall Mural Project



One of Arts Wisconsin’s most important jobs as Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization is telling the stories of the many ways the arts and creativity happen throughout Wisconsin. Our intrepid assistant Allie Schaitel discusses a recent exciting public/private collaboration in Madison.

The Waterfall Mural Project, Madison: A Story of Collaboration
by Allie Schaitel, Arts Wisconsin

A new project in Madison, Technology in Motion,” demonstrates a collaborative merger of private funding and public art which may inspire similar projects to showcase art and artists in Wisconsin and beyond.   Many people and companies contributed to the almost ten-story, 123-foot mural on the side of the 316 building (formerly AT&T) on West Washington Avenue in downtown Madison.

In January 2015 , Eric Hovde, owner ofHovde Properties, dreamed of an artwork to be the hypothetical “cherry on top” of the company’s $30 million renovation of the space at 316 West Washington Avenue.   The building needed a unique flair, something extra to set it apart not only to enhance the building’s impact and to benefit the community. This renovation revamped the entire building, as well as adding space for businesses on the ground floor (The Barre Code and Red Sushi) to revitalize and refresh both the building’s aesthetic and its purpose.

Hovde Properties contracted with CODAworx, a Madison-based company specializing in matching artists to companies looking to commission artwork, to utilize their RFP Toolkit Concierge Service. CODAworx (Collaboration of Design + Art), founded in 2013, promotes design and art collaborations at the intersection of industry resources (engineers, installers, suppliers), artists and creative (sculptors, muralists, public artists), and those who commission art (architects, art consultants, developers). CODAworx played matchmaker in the process, using their international reach, tools, and team to facilitate the selection process.

Artist Jonathan Brown of Modern Mosaics, Inc. in Houston was chosen from a pool of 54 international applicants to fill the space with his idea.

The project brought together many individuals and companies in Houston and Madison, including Hovde Properties, Pierce Engineers, Dimension IV Madison Design Group, H&H Electric, Snowforest, CODAworx, Modern Mosaics, and at least 15 individual artists. The city of Madison was a partner in enforcing guidelines and codes associated with construction and lighting.


The building had been in disrepair with a less than appealing facade, and the addition of the iconic mural has added appeal and excitement around the space.  After nearly 16 months of work and a never ending list of logistical hurdles, the mural was unveiled in November 2016.  The work consists of 60 painted panels, approximately 500 blue and white LED lights, theatrical lights, and a projector that gives the illusion of falling water. At the bottom of the waterfall, a water fountain and arched glass pond will be installed in summer 2017. The combination of distinct materials allows for a beautifully complex outcome as art and a unique landmark for downtown Madison. The result of this addition is aesthetically attractive, bringing charm and a special flair to the building and city. Currently, the property is filled with small entrepreneurial tech companies and startups.

Nick Anderson, Online Marketing Manager of CODAworx, says, “Investors and communities can use this project as a model. This projects is an example of how a local developer is taking the initiative to give something back to his community. While the art is privately commissioned, it is on the exterior of the building for public enjoyment. It adds to our sense of place and how we define Madison. It inspires pedestrians as they walk by and creates a landmark for visitors. I hope more Wisconsin developers, architects, and community leaders see the benefit of art in the community and the value that it not only provides to private stakeholders, but the public community as well.”

Eric Hovde of Hovde Properties reiterated Nick’s statement about the importance of investing in public art. “It’s not only smart because you’re adding something to the tenant base in your community, but [in the] long-run, you are going to get paid because you are creating more value and interest in that property. When you take a building and add unique art to it as a signature piece, it gives a feel that this is a special property because the owners put forth the investment and time and care to add something special. ” He also spoke at length about the value of art for a community, noting its benefit for people’s emotions and claiming “a piece of beauty or something that stimulates the mind will always have a positive effect.”

Throughout the process, the partners were concerned with the match and trust between the artist and the project, investment in aesthetic design and cultural vitality of a community, and collaboration between the public and private sectors.The project has resulted in an outstanding work of art and an extensive, explorative process involving creativity, partnership, and resources.


Arts Wisconsin interviewed the artist of the Waterfall Mural, Jonathan Brown:

Arts Wisconsin: There were many people and many companies involved in this project. How did the collaboration process work? 

Jonathan Brown: A big case can be made for collaboration when looking at the Waterfall project, but it should be noted that originally it was an idea. The architectural firm Dimensions, Madison Design Group created a concept for Hovde properties. Hovde took it to Codaworx. Codaworx put out a call for submissions. Modern Mosaics put in a proposal. Hovde liked our ideas, our experience, and maybe even our ability to contain costs. We won the bid.. and was off and running.

 So to explain the collaboration and what it does to a project. Hovde had a vision. They hired an architecture firm. When that happened, Hovde’s vision was changed a little by the architect’s concept. Then we became involved and we changed the architect’s vision. We needed lighting. We got Starlite Productions involved and they changed our vision a little. These changes continue all the way through installation, every project has it’s own evolution, even projects kept in the studio.

 The difficulty, as creative people, is being able to perceive those changes as enhancements rather than dilutions. It’s very easy for artists to become, in effect, married to a concept and resentful of additional input. The trick is to understand that there are experts in all aspects of a project this size. You can’t do everything. There are architects, engineers, lighting specialists, painters, designers, photographers, installation technicians, electricians… You have to start calling people and talking about the project. From those conversations, you can start to put together a picture of what the final project might look like, but in the end, you have to trust the other collaborators to be professionals that understand their trade. That they can execute the project the way that they said they would.

 This involves an enormous amount of communication. A question is rarely answered immediately. The answer is usually just more questions, but eventually everyone moves their pieces forward until the project is done.

What was the economic impact of the project for the partners? For the community?

Each company and individual that collaborated in the project bid on their piece of the job. Those bids had to be evaluated against the overall budget. If a company or individual can’t make money and execute their part of the project, there really is no way for them to participate in the project. This is important, because if the vision of Hovde involves expensive elements but their budget doesn’t fit the vision, the project can’t be done. Although on a project like this, everyone wants to be a part of it. So we saw a lot of creativity in collaborators making striking contributions to the project on a very low budget. So it’s tough to say what economic impact the project had on the partners. I’m sure that everyone made money and people were employed, but there is also the prestige of the project. The scale of this project helps sell more projects.

As far as the community is concerned, there are many communities affected by this project. Not just Wisconsin. Our production studio is in Houston where we employed a dozen artists, rented trucks, hired a crate making company, a crane company, accountants, bankers, our studio space, restaurants providing lunch… But then there is the installation company out of Dallas. Starlite Productions in New Jersey. Then in Wisconsin, the architects, engineers, scaffolding workers, photographers, hotel stays for the companies that were from out of town. Then there is unmeasurable impact on downtown revitalization. I have friends in Houston that are asking family and friends in Wisconsin if they have seen the project. How many people are attracted to the area and spend money at restaurants and bars? Are other developers interested in Madison now that they see a downtown community revitalization project jumpstarting economic activity. This lessens the risk of other investment in the area. Especially with a project as bright and optimistic as this one. Having a centerpiece for urban development helps everyone. People come to downtown Madison to have dinner and hang out and look at the Waterfall. You have to ask yourself, “Six months ago, would anyone have stopped and taken two minutes to look at that building?”

How can other investors and communities use this project as an example to follow?

I think economic development is hard to resist. As long as you can make the claims about economic development that were made above, then developers and investors will have a hard time finding reasons not to do something like this. It’s a lot of work, not just money. It is a testament to how much Hovde cares about Madison that they were willing to put this kind of work into the project. There are similar opportunities around the country where investors are trying to revitalize their own communities, but when you make an investment in a building as large as this one, you want to make sure that your investment has results. Even if it is a labor of love. The Hovde investment will have cascading effects for decades. In the end, the only measurable result will be the value of the real estate, but the effect on the community is really what closes the deal. Hovde could invest their money anywhere if they just wanted to make more money or keep their money safe. They chose to invest in a community they cared deeply about. We felt that love as we were working on the project, and it was an honor to be involved. If anything, Madison has a new friend in Modern Mosaics.

Are there any details you think should be communicated to Arts Wisconsin followers?

When you see a project of this size, you really have to step back and consider all of the steps involved – the number of people’s efforts that bring it to life. It’s an honor to be involved in a project that has this breadth and scope. To touch a community with something beautiful. Don’t ever underestimate whatever part you can play in making the world a better place.

Check out other articles published about this groundbreaking project:

(All photos from mosaicart.us)




A Call To Be Better and Do Better

I don’t think it’s easy to be considered a feminist in today’s society, especially if you are in a position where your work and your ideologies are put on a platform to be scrutinized. You put yourself under a microscope when it comes to the actors you chose, the stories you tell, and the conventions you employ. Different forums and critics will comment on every choice you make as a filmmaker. When it comes to portraying women, there is (rightfully so) a movement to have women as main characters, pushing the story forward. There is an entire history of film and television where shows and movies have been created by men and for men.

Reports from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media show that females are still stereotyped and sexualized and are still playing lesser roles than men. The media and entertainment industries are no where near achieving gender equality. “Both young girls and boys should see female decision-makers, political leaders, managers, and scientists as the norm, not the exception. By increasing the number and diversity of female leaders and role models on screen, content creators may affect the ambitions and career aspirations of girls and young women domestically and internationally.”

Feminism is defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality of men,” but in some realms, it so much more than just gender equality. Intersectional Feminism, a term coined by theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, is more complex and complicated than the standard definition of feminism. There are many layers of intersectionality that go beyond simply championing women.

Intersectional feminists are all about the inclusion and choice, personal autonomy, and inclusion for not only women but men, people of color, LGBTQ, the disabled, and more. Basically, marginalized groups are brought to the forefront in order to draw attention to inequalities faced. Oppressed and disenfranchised groups are highlighted and advocated for, under this umbrella. “Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society— such as racismsexismclassismableismhomophobiatransphobiaxenophobia and belief-based bigotry—do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the ‘intersection’ of multiple forms of discrimination.”

Over the past few years, there has been a push for fair representation in movies and on television. Now more than ever, it is essential to be mindful to intersections and people who are oppressed and tread upon by standard, mainstream society, especially television and the media. REPRESENTATION MATTERS.

When Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted in the late 1990’s, Joss Whedon was ahead of the curve when it came to showcasing a strong woman in a lead role. In my opinion, while this is groundbreaking and Joss Whedon does advocate for women, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. I challenge Joss Whedon and all writers/directors to do better, be better and widen their scope when it comes to whose stories they are telling. How? Get opinions and stories from a more diverse range of women, hire female writers of different colors and backgrounds, reject stereotypes and tropes, and showcase women who are complex, strong, and smart. They should reject binaries and undertones of internalized sexism and misogyny.

So yes, Joss Whedon has created complex female characters in Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dollhouse. But as a filmmaker, he should constantly be striving for excellence. Directors and writers should question the audience’s preconceived notions about what their expectations are for women’s weight, body hair, appearance, behavior, and more. Why do we expect men to be rugged and hairy but expect women to have a full face of makeup, be thin, be athletic (but not too athletic), be supported by a significant other, and wear heels while fighting crime. These societal standards are harmful and outdated when it comes to portrayals of women. While there are certain expectations set for men, women do carry a lot of weight when it comes to gender roles and expectations about how they should look and act.

Privilege comes in many forms- you can be privileged because of your class, educational background, religious background, the fact that you’re able bodied or cis-gendered. Recognizing this privilege and using it to do good in the world is the only way to elevate yourself beyond becoming complacent with the privilege. I want to see POC, transgendered people, disabled people, economically disadvantaged people, gay/asexual/bisexual people, bodies that aren’t thin/athletic, and most of all- women who are strong, secure, and empowered.

Writer Roxane Gay has some great tips to keep in mind while portraying women on screen. This is essentially an updated, more challenging version of the Bechdel Test. (Does the movie have two women in it? Do they talk to each other? Do they talk about something besides a man?)


  1. A woman’s story is being told. She is not relegated to the role of sidekick, romantic interest, or bit player.
    Her world is populated with intelligent women who also have stories worth telling, even if their stories aren’t the focus of the movie.
  2.  If she must engage in a romantic storyline, she doesn’t have to compromise her sanity or common sense for love.
  3.  At least half the time, this woman needs to be a woman of color and/or a transgender woman and/or a queer woman because all these women exist! Though she is different, her story should not focus solely on this difference because she is a sum of her parts. She is not the token. She has friends who look like her so they need to show up once in a while.
  4.  She cannot live in an inexplicably perfect apartment in an expensive city with no visible means of affording said inexplicably perfect apartment.
  5. She doesn’t have to live up to an unrealistic feminist standard. She can and should be human. She just needs to be intelligent and witty and interesting in the way women, the world over are, if we ever got a chance to really know them on the silver screen.

My closing statement-

We live in a diverse nation, we should see that reflected on screen. Joss Whedon built a career from empowering women, let’s hold him to a higher standard to see what he can do next.

Why is it Important for Wisconsin to Invest in the Creative Economy?

There have been major changes in the economy over the last ten years, challenging communities around the United States to break outside the mold and discontinue their outdated practices. Automation and technology (knowledge-intensive fields) are growing rapidly while manufacturing and industry are declining. So in response to these changes, many areas have turned to bolstering their creative economy and cultural sector as a viable resource for economic stability in the 21st Century. Culture has been proven to be a worthwhile investment for both intangible value and monetary value. In the past decade, more states than ever have begun to utilize creative economy strategies to fill the needs of their economies. In the coming years, as our society continues to follow the path of technology around the world, we will need to find creative ways to develop our economies.

The demand for innovation and creativity in the 21st Century is very strong, as creativity is becoming more important in today’s society. The creative economy has the potential to revitalize existing economies (manufacturing, retail, entertainment, etc.) to make them grow and be more productive. While some camps are hesitant to use funding to invest in the arts, the economic investment in culture gets returned. Despite research leaning toward the creative economy, arts funding still remains a widely debated topic in America’s polarized political climate, making it difficult for leaders to band together for the worthwhile cause. The goal of Arts Wisconsin and the Wisconsin League of Municipalities is to draw attention to the benefits of investing in culture within the state of Wisconsin. Both entities work relentlessly to advocate for the arts, arts education, and the creative economy in communities throughout the state in order to see positive change and progress.

The arts and creativity work for a vibrant, innovative, and successful world to live in.  Strengthening Wisconsin’s creative industry is a critical strategy for the state and all of its communities to compete in the global economy, educate our children, engage residents, and to develop, attract and retain entrepreneurs and a high skilled work force through healthy, vibrant communities where people want to live, work, learn, and play.  Funding the arts will help Wisconsin identify, strengthen and expand its creative programs, workforce, and businesses on the local level, leading to sustainable job growth, a growing talent pool, and community vibrancy and vitality. Arts and culture are extremely important to local, state, and national economies. In addition to building and amplifying the success of innovative industries, an accessibility to the arts makes a region a more attractive place to live for people and families working in any industry. Arts businesses and the creative people they employ stimulate innovation, strengthen America's competitiveness in the global marketplace, and play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy.  

One of the biggest ways the creative economy stimulates creative thinking is by investing in arts education. Education is paramount. One way for communities to increase the impact of education is to implement art/creative classes in elementary and higher education systems. It should be required that all state schools provide a variety of classes and programs for students of various creative backgrounds. These options could include basic 2-dimensional art classes, dance, theater, competitive internship positions, and mentorship programs and corporation pairings. Children are our future and one of the best ways to promote change and to start at the beginning, since the roots of our culture. Education prepares children for jobs, prepares them to be citizens, generates social responsibility, and teaches them how to appreciate and navigate the world around them.

    If the arts were to be seen as essential, Wisconsin would see a rise in motivation, attitudes, problem solving and critical thinking skills, motor skills, visual learning, cultural awareness, and overall academic performance. Teaching children while they are young that there is an inherent value in the arts creates future generations of people who find value in enjoying and supporting the arts, as well as fostering lifelong learners. While many see art classes as just arts and crafts, children are actually learning to learn, observe, and synthesize while they create.

By providing quality arts education to all schools in Wisconsin, especially in economically disadvantaged areas, art could be available and accessible to all. Studies have shown that students in economically disadvantaged areas who have access to art education are less likely to drop out. “An 11-year national study that examined youth in low income neighborhoods found that those who participated in arts programs were much more likely to be high academic achievers, be elected to class office, participate in a math or science fair or win an award for writing an essay or poem.” Arts education won’t solve all of the problems Wisconsin is facing, but it will contribute to producing citizens who are achievers.

If leaders, legislators, and change makers would like to see Wisconsin thrive and grow (in the future and long term), they should seriously consider Wisconsin Creates and adopting the mentality that the arts matter. The arts and creativity are a catalyst for vibrancy, sustainability, and success for Wisconsin’s economic, educational, and civic growth, so if public policy followed suit to make this success possible Wisconsin will be a better place in the years to come. Wisconsin has cultural assets that it can promote. We would like to see action in order to preserve this state as one where people of all interests, backgrounds, and perspectives, in communities of all sizes, are involved in creative endeavors. In order to be entrepreneurial and progressive, states must give a portion of their funding to creative endeavors in order to generate jobs, create revenue, and improve quality of life.


The Intersection Between Art and Technology


The 21st Century has brought along many changes in basically every sector possible. Technology is fast-moving, persistent, and transformative and it’s showing no signs of stopping or slowing down with its array of possibilities and cultural contributions. As far as the art world is concerned, technology has opened up new doors to the process of creating, changed the way that artists and galleries market their art, as well as created barriers to attendance. When it comes down to it though, arts agencies, organizations, museums, galleries, as well as individual artists must creatively devise ways to use technology to their advantage. Technology has also brought on new forms like virtual reality, glitch art, digital art, a genre of conceptual art, and more. New artists and established artists are trying their hand at different technologies as new tools for expression outside of what is considered traditional.

Technology has raised many questions in relation to the arts: What does the future of art and technology look like? What can museums and galleries do to keep up with these changes? Is the inclusion of technology in the art world inherently good for it? How do the instant access to information and the use of portable devices affect how we take appreciate art forms? What is the best way for artists to go about presenting themselves online? How has the definition of art changed since more people can create and exhibit their works online?

The inclusion of technology in the arts perhaps began with the invention of the printing press. This invention provided to be a disruption to former practices, changing the system from that point on. When new technology emerges, it sometimes comes with rejection but over time, the new technology becomes accepted in the movement. It is now the ‘norm’ for artists to have an online presence complete with a website and profiles on multiple social media pages. Artists can participate in online juried shows, find calls to entry, connect with collectors, and more. The internet provides a means for meaningful connections between artists, art communities, and audiences. The days of only seeing and participating in the arts in a physical place is over.

Museums and galleries experiment with various means to bring works to a larger audience:
QR codes
Pokemon Go
Digital touch tables
Site-specific mobile apps
Social media

Instead of rejecting the influx of technology available, a lot of museums are embracing tools to bring the museum experience into the contemporary digital culture. These places have media teams that are developing programs around the competition that the inundation of screens in our reality brings and to find practices that best utilize the internet. The Google Art Project, for example, is a platform where the public has access to images of artworks and virtual tours in museums that are partnered with the program. This program allows users inside the museum or thousands of miles away to have an enriching experience either gathering a broader knowledge about the history of pieces, the artist’s intent, or notes from the curator.

There might be a downside to all of this though. Critics say the inclusion of screens and fancy gadgets in a museum setting are interfering with the solitary, intellectual, contemplative aspects of museum-going. Some feel as though when traditional gallery/museum practices are interfered with technology, it is ruining its very essence. Experts also wonder if the instant gratification, quick consumption era we’re in is congruent with the objectives of museum-going. The main function of a museum is the have a personal experience and connection with the content you’re viewing- is this possible when your attention is focused on a screen or device? But, is there actually a ‘proper’ way to view and experience art?


Also, studies have shown that the inclusion of technology in our culture is providing a barrier to arts attendance, as people have instant access to theater, movies, visual arts, and music on their devices or on their television. People can go on Tumblr or Instagram to see high quality photos of visual art, they can use the internet to read poems and short stories, they can go on YouTube to watch their favorite ballet. For a lot of people, the internet is their sole means for arts consumption. Therefore, arts establishments must be creative in the way they market their events and bolster interest around shows and events. The arts are still being consumed by the masses through digital content, but it is fair to wonder if the traditional viewing of plays, galleries, operas, and concerts will fall to the wayside in favor for the less expensive, more convenient forms through electronic media. See the reports on barriers to arts attendance here.

The web holds a power that has yet been completely uncovered by anyone in the art industry since there are limitless opportunities for experimentation and creation. The way humans express themselves has been transformed immensely by the new tools the Digital Age has brought. The definition of art and what makes an artist has changed since so many people have access to programs and devices that are able to create. Artists right out of graduate school blossoming into the art world are attempting to make their work fit in to our Instagram Age (“art for likes”), and that is entirely different than it was even 15 years ago. Here are some artists creating work that purposefully engages with our digital culture.

Arts Wisconsin Blog: Learn More About Allie Schaitel

  • How have you been involved with the arts? 

My involvement in the arts started out very casually, with no expectation for serious involvement. I loved art class in high school and I especially enjoyed doing film photography and acrylic painting. My serious interest didn’t bloom until I fell in love with an artist the summer between my senior year of high school and my first year of college. That relationship brought many adventures both making art and seeing art, opening up my eyes to a world that’s inspiring, influential, and emotional. I found learning about art, making art, and being immersed in cultural events to be utterly satisfying experiences. This personal involvement has branched into a professional involvement I’ve based my education and future plans around. Now, I write for a visual art publication called Beautiful.bizarre Magazine, I occasionally volunteer at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, I assist the director of the Crossman Gallery at the University of Wisconsin: Whitewater, and now intern at Arts Wisconsin. (On top of all this, I study arts management at Whitewater. ) To have this intersection between my personal and professional life is both fulfilling and exciting.

  • What has been your favorite arts experience in your life so far? 

In March 2015, I interviewed artist Maria Teicher for www.beautifulbizarre.net. I had been following her work for a few years and was inspired by her realistic portraiture. I corresponded with Maria over email and Facebook, going over her work/life balance, her inspiration, social media, and her future plans. In the article published on the Beautiful.bizarre website, we announced her second solo show at her representing gallery- Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the article was published, Maria kindly invited me to her show and offered me a place to stay for the weekend. It was amazing to see a new city, hang out with legitimate artists, and experience Maria’s opening night.

  • What’s your favorite arts activity in your community? 

I’m always very impressed with what the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art does, especially the Art Fair on the Square. It’s incredible to walk around the square and see such a variety of awesome artists. The MMoCA also has movies on its rooftop over the summer and artist lectures that are fun to experience.

  • Why are the arts important to you?

I wholeheartedly believe the arts have transformative powers. The arts express more than words can alone, cutting across barriers. The arts help bring together different types of people from different backgrounds, they are uniting. They foster an incomparable connection between humans and offer an opportunity to inject deep meaning and important content into the world that can calm the senses or ignite passion. The arts can create and capture memories, take over the imagination, and propel social change. The arts are important to communities, for education, for development, for culture, and for personal growth.

  • Why is Arts Wisconsin important to you and to Wisconsin? 

I believe in Arts Wisconsin’s mission to raise awareness of the value of arts, to strengthen the Wisconsin arts industry, and to build the opportunities for members of the arts industry to thrive.  (Advocate, Communicate, Educate, Facilitate, Sustain) I believe the support of the creative economy is essential to building a thriving, wholesome community. As a Wisconsinite, policies local lawmakers and community leaders create directly affect me as a citizen. Building a stronger creative economy and advocating to bring the arts into communities can only benefit this state.

  • What is your favorite thing about being involved with the arts?  With Arts Wisconsin?

My favorite thing about being involved with the arts is the opportunity to collaborate, communicate, and interact with other arts enthusiasts and artists.

My favorite thing about being involved with Arts Wisconsin, specifically, is the opportunity to work closely with Anne Katz, who is knowledgeable and experienced in arts advocacy. On top of her knowledge and experience, Anne’s enthusiasm and energy is exciting to be around. I have a great feeling that this internship will teach me valuable lessons and lead me to great things. Only good can come of this.

Dream Job Dossier

When one thinks of reliable jobs that are going to sustain through a rocky economy, jobs in the arts do not typically come to mind. It is an interesting phenomenon to express a desire to work in the arts industry in a conversation and have people state their concern about the vitality and sustainability of that decision. The old stereotype of the ‘starving artist’ and the idea of the exclusivity related to employment in the arts industry has perpetuated the myth that the arts industry is both dying and unrealistic for a college graduate to break into. Despite these misconceptions, having a career in the arts industry has been my dream and my goal for years. Something that started out as a simple hobby has turned into the source of my inspiration and the bulk of my education. My dream job, you could say, is to work in a renowned visual arts center or a nonprofit organization specializing in arts advocacy.

Interestingly enough, in progressive cities, the arts are considered a necessary cornerstone to city planning and economic development. Various arts and cultural venues and activities have the power to draw in visitors from inside and outside of the community, adding to tourism incomes and an appealing destination factor. “Seventy-eight percent of all American leisure travelers (118 million adults) participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, contributing more than $192 billion annually to the U.S. economy.” (Nasaa-arts.org) Galleries and museums, big and small, also do their part to preserve rich cultural and local histories, making their presence in communities a vital part of protecting the past and assuring a future of representing culture.

Galleries and museums, big and small, also do their part to preserve rich cultural and local histories, making their presence in communities a vital part of protecting the past and assuring a future of representing culture. Artists do their duty to society by displaying aesthetic beauty, telling important stories through visual narrative, encouraging viewers to see the world through a different lens, and bolstering imagination. The mission of art museums to preserve art, educate the public, make art accessible, and showcase works is a worthy and noble cause. 



Gender is a Social Construct

So, I came across this post when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day and I thought it was worth a share. An awesomely talented artist, Mab Graves - Her Waifs and Strays, made this post about children and the expression of gender. A few reminders: 
Gender is a social construct. 
Let your kids express themselves in any manner they wish. 
Don't let your limited ideologies about gender stifle your children.

Carry on.

Issues in Society

I've taken my fair share of women's studies courses, sociology courses, and liberal studies courses. All of these classes have brought to light how truly complicated and intricate human nature and society really are.  The topics I've covered in these classes have been pretty interesting- I've learned about how race and gender are portrayed in the media, I've learned about the arguments for and against gay marriage and abortion, I've learned about the links between poverty, education, and race, and I have critiqued pop culture through a feminist lens. Before I took these courses, I had no idea about binaries and the actual fluidity of gender and sexuality. I wasn't aware of the poverty cycle or the injustices people of color have faced. I wasn't aware of how flawed the U.S. education and prison systems are. It's eye opening, really.

I think the topics relating to issues in society are extremely important and relevant considering there are so many issues concerning equality and discrimination for the LGBTQ community and people of color happening RIGHT NOW. To be educated about the issues in society and to take courses to learn about the different kinds of people in the world and how they may be disenfranchised and oppressed is giving you a worldview that is more inclusive to everyone. It is also important to look at how privileges and barriers are in place for certain groups in our society and how that effects the kind of treatment and advantages they may have. I honestly wish that more people could have the education I've had because then maybe there wouldn't be so much bigotry and ignorance in the world. Just saying.

Allie, the Art Enthusiast

I’ve recently started using the term ‘art enthusiast’ to define my relation to the arts. Visual arts, in particular, are intertwined in the fabric of my everyday life to the point where they are inseparable from my persona. I have found a connection to visual art and aesthetics that is unparalleled; learning is engaging and inviting, new discoveries (of artists and pieces) are thrilling, and sharing artistic experiences with others has created lasting connections between me and some special people. The arts play an important role in my life by keeping me engaged, involved, and surrounded by wonderful fellow supporters, advocators, instructors, and creators of arts. The way art connects people, preserves culture, and serves as a catalyst for public awareness and social issues is infinitely fascinating to me.