John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts Receives $1 Million Grant to Launch Lenore Tawney Fellowship

Objects from the Lenore Tawney Collection at the new art reserve at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan. Photo courtesy of the John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts.

The John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts to Sheboygan received a $1 million grant from the New York-based company Lenore G. Tawney Foundation to establish an endowment to fund a scholarship dedicated to the study of the Lenore Tawney collection of the centre.

The new Lenore G. Tawney Fellowship is to be awarded annually to a researcher, writer, curator, or artist to pursue projects using the Tawney Collection, as a basis or inspiration for their work. The scholarships will be open to people of all nationalities, at all levels of education and from all disciplines.

The late Lenore Tawney was an American fiber artist known for her “innovative interpretations of traditional fiber practices,” the art center said in a press release. “Tawney’s unorthodox sculptural works pushed the weave beyond the expected flat rectangular format, moving the art from the fiber of the wall to a three-dimensional space.” His work also includes drawing, collage and assemblage.

In addition to the $1 million endowment grant, the foundation provides JMKAC with a $50,000 grant to operate the fellowship in its first year. The first fellow will be announced in early 2023, with the fellowship commencing in the summer of 2023.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Tawney Foundation, the Arts Center will be able to bring new voices and diverse perspectives to the collection and the continued relevance of Tawney’s life’s work,” said Amy Horst, Director of JMKAC. “We are grateful for the foundation’s gift and excited about the opportunities it will provide for new research and new works of art.”

With the help of the Kohler Foundation Inc., JMKAC worked closely with the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation – established by Tawney herself in 1989 for charitable and educational purposes – to acquire hundreds of key components of the artist’s latest studio environment. The 486-piece collection includes works of art, collages, assemblages, furniture and supplies.

An installation of Tawney’s studio environment is featured in JMKAC’s new art storage. The three-story, 56,000 square foot building opened in 2021 at 3636 Lower Falls Road to provide the public and scholars with year-round access to a collection of art environments that now includes works from more than 30 artists.

Founded in 1967, JMKAC is known for “promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through exhibitions and commissioned artwork,” according to the statement. Located in downtown Sheboygan at 608 New York Ave., the facility includes eight galleries, two performance halls, a cafe, a museum shop, and a walk-in art studio. Its programming includes artist residencies; dance, film and music presentations; a series of free weekly summer concerts; courses and workshops; an on-site arts-based preschool; 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.

William E. Bennett