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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Niki Johnson during a work visit to The Pfister's Art Studio earlier this month.
Niki Johnson during a work visit to The Pfister's Art Studio earlier this month. (Photo: Alyssa Anderson)

Niki Johnson named next artist at The Pfister

Multi-media sculptor Niki Johnson will serve as The Pfister Hotel’s sixth artist in residence, replacing current artist, Stephanie Barenz. Johnson, who was one of six finalists, will work in The Pfister’s art studio for one year, starting April 1.

"I’m thrilled to have been selected as the next artist in residence at The Pfister and can’t wait to get started in the artist's studio," says Johnson. "I really love this new body of work, and believe that The Pfister is the right environment for it to come into reality."

The body of artwork Johnson will create during her year at The Pfister will involve sculpting six child-sized bathtubs out of oil clay, and then casting them in porcelain. Each bathtub will depict heroines from fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.

Along with the bathtubs, Johnson will create a series of corresponding limited edition commemorative plates. Visitors to the studio will watch her build and shape elements for the bathtubs. 

"When I am on site in the artist's studio, I will build and shape elements for the bathtubs, such as braiding yards of hair for the Rapunzel tub and working with a taxidermied wolf hide for Little Red Riding Hood," says Johnson.

Other processes necessary to create the porcelain bathtubs, such as molding, casting and firing of the artwork, will take place in her home studio. These activities will be shared with visitors through photos which will be displayed on a TV screen inside the Artist’s Studio.

Johnson received her BFA from the University of Memphis, Tennessee in 2008 and her MA/MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012.

She has taught two discussion sections for the Foundations Department in Contemporary Art History at University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as classes at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, including Foundry, Advanced Mold-Making and Casting, 3D Design and 2D Glassworks. 

She also participates in speaking engagements through the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts and is a blogger for the Huffington Post.

Johnson is also known for the creation of Eggs Benedict, a piece that garnered international attention last year. OnMilwaukee.com broke the story shortly after its completion.

"With each passing year, our Artist-in-Residence Program grows stronger and our applicants even more talented," said Paul Ohm, general manager of The Pfister. "We can’t wait to see the new dynamic Niki will bring to the program and our guests."

As the current Pfister Narrator (writer in residence), my tenure will overlap with Johnson’s by only one month, but I look forward to the chance to work together, albeit briefly.

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