Jessica Campbell, Ares (Fear of Men), 2021; glued down acrylic carpet; 78 x 84 in. Courtesy of the artist and Western Exhibitions. Photo: James Prinz.

Can art be a portal to a world of possibilities? A new exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) features the work of five contemporary artists who have been asked to imagine a better place, a mission that seems entirely timely. The exhibition, titled In the Adjacent Possible, will be visible from April 5, 2022 to March 26, 2023.

The artists in the exhibition are Jessica Campbell, Yasmine K. Kasem, Suchitra Mattai, Haleigh Nickerson and Nyugen E. Smith. The title of the exhibition was inspired by sociologist Ruha Benjamin’s suggestion to “imagine and create the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the ones you cannot live in”. Benjamin is a professor of African-American studies at Princeton University.

“Each of the five artist installations offers a unique vantage point to visualize ideas that go just beyond what we know,” said JMKAC Senior Curator Kaytie Johnson, who co-curated the exhibition. with JMKAC curator Laura Bickford. “They evoke worlds that are not quite here, but are within our reach. They place us in the possible adjacent, a space where we can dream of other ways of being in the world.

The exhibition forms a speculative framework that explores a myriad of approaches to proposed and promised life strategies. These artists offer prospective plans of other worlds, often built from the remains of our current world. Engage issues of colonialism, feminism, queerness, identity and stereotypes, In the Adjacent Possible suggests ways to reimagine the present and explore the endless horizon of opportunity at the edge of our reach.


Jessica Campbell is an illustrator, visual artist and writer interested in combining seemingly disparate media, subjects and tones as a tool for research and knowledge production. She received a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Campbell’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across North America, including Western Exhibitions, Chicago; Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art; Institute of Contemporary Art, Baltimore; Monique Meloche, Chicago; Field Projects, New York; and the Art Galley of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is the author of three graphic novels and her comics have appeared in the new yorker, Hyperallergicand Feather. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


Yasmine K. Kasem’s art focuses on the precariousness of identity and manifests what it means to be Egyptian-American, Muslim, and queer. She received a BFA from the Herron School of Art + Design and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego. Kasem’s work has been exhibited at the Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA; Lux Art Institute, Encinitas, CA; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis; Simon Subal Gallery, New York; and the Crypt Gallery, London. She has been artist-in-residence at Bread and Salt and 1805 Gallery in San Diego, and her work has been featured in Here in the newspaper and art and cake. She lives and works in San Diego.


Suchitra Mattai’s multimedia works explore how memory and myth can unravel and reimagine historical narratives. She earned a BA from Rutgers University and an MFA and MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Mattai has exhibited extensively at venues such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Boise Museum of Art, Boise, Idaho; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas; The Momentary, Bentonville, Arkansas; Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC; Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado; Hollis Taggart, New York; and Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. His work has been featured in The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Hyperallergicand Wide walls. Mattai lives and works in Denver, Colorado.


Haleigh Nickerson explores the complexities and shifts of identity across real and imagined worlds in her multidisciplinary practice. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She earned an MFA from Parsons: The New School for Design and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Art Practice with a minor in Ethnic Studies. Nickerson’s work has been exhibited at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery, Washington, DC; Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles; The Growlerly, San Francisco; Phillips, New York; and Superposition Gallery, Amagansett, New York and Los Angeles. She was named one of Cultivated magazineList of 30 young artists under 35 in 2021.


Nyugen E. Smith is an interdisciplinary artist whose performances, found object sculptures, mixed media drawings, paintings, videos, photos and writing deepen his knowledge of the historical and current conditions of African descendants blacks in the diaspora. Smith holds a BA in Fine Art from Seton Hall University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been shown at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach; Perez Museum of Art, Miami; Nordic Black Theatre, Oslo, Norway; Newark Museum of Art, Newark, New Jersey; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Smith is a recipient of the Leonore Annenberg Performing and Visual Arts Fund, the Franklin Furnace Fund, the Dr. Doris Derby Award, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, and a 2022 Creative Capital Award. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey .


the John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts (JMKAC), located north of Milwaukee in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is known for promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through exhibitions and commissioned art. Founded in 1967, JMKAC has preserved, studied and exhibited artist-built environments, earning it a worldwide reputation. Artistic environments involve an individual significantly transforming their environment into an exceptional, multi-faceted work of art.

The Arts Center’s downtown Sheboygan facility includes eight galleries, two performance halls, a cafe, a museum shop and a walk-in art studio. Among its program offerings are community arts projects; artist residencies; dance, film and music presentations; a series of free weekly summer concerts; courses and workshops; an on-site arts-based preschool program; and approximately twelve original exhibitions of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists each year. JMKAC also administers the renowned Arts/Industry Residency Program, hosted by Kohler Co.


In 2021, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center opened the preserve art, the first museum in the world to focus entirely on the work of artistic environments. Located three miles from JMKAC, the 56,000-square-foot, three-level building houses more than 25,000 works from the Arts Center’s world-renowned collection, which includes full and partial environments of more than 30 vernaculars, self-taught and academically trained artists. Visitors enjoy unprecedented access and insight into the exhibition, preservation, curation and interpretation of the Arts Center’s premier collection through paintings as well as a unique system of visible and organized storage of works of art.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center (608 New York Avenue) and the Art Preserve (3636 Lower Falls Road) are located in Sheboygan, WI. Admission is always free. For more information, call 920.458.6144, or visit, Facebook, TwitterWhere instagram.

William E. Bennett