In 1974, Ruth DeYoung Kohler II founded the Arts/Industry residency in partnership with Kohler Co. Today, the program annually hosts twelve artists who make new works of art in the company’s factory in Kohler, Wisconsin. The artists work in studios located on the factory floor, alongside Kohler Co. associates who offer support and information as the residents encounter industrial machines and materials that advance their artistic practice.
Arts/Industry Highlights presents handwritten letters, postcards, sketches, and photos dating from the late 1970s to the late 1990s to contextualize the meaningful relationships Ruth and Kohler Co. associates developed with the artists-in-residence. These records reveal evidence of friendships that were built during and continued long after a resident’s time in Kohler, and how those affinities contributed to the significance of the artworks created.
Not only do these materials affirm community building within the history of the Arts/Industry program, their presentation honors the kinds of interactions that give shape to kinship.
Image: Casey O'Conner, detail of untitled sketch for the Children's Studio washroom, 1998.