Historically, collection-building for museums has gone on behind-the-scenes. In the last decade, more institutions have offered transparency regarding how collections are developed, stored, and conserved. Open Storage offers a series of exhibitions that clarify this process by drawing attention to some of RAM’s particular strengths—collecting the work of artists in-depth and establishing archives that further document their working processes and careers. While RAM frequently talks about the importance of gifts from donors’ estates, archive building—both by artists and institutions—is critically important for the field because it offers a more comprehensive look at creative activity.
This exhibition features the work of five artists—Ronald Kent, Michael Peterson, Tom Rauschke, Kaaren Wiken, and Bob Stocksdale—through multiple examples of their work. This group reflects multiple approaches to wood as a creative medium—whether turning, carving, or, in the case of Rauschke and Wiken, collaborating and introducing other media. While wood is considered one of the five traditional craft media, these works show both historical approaches and new ones—as many artists of the last century have been interested in experimenting with materials, concepts, and forms.
The combination of artists in this show demonstrates how RAM acquires the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists, as well as by those who have called Wisconsin home as they built their artistic reputations.