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Kohler Co. and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center look back on four decades of collaboration

KOHLER, Wis. – April 22, 2014 – This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the well known Arts/Industry residency program, a collaboration between artists and manufacturing run by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wis., that has proven groundbreaking for both fields. For four decades, the program has pioneered the collaboration of Kohler Co. and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center with artists who are interested in pushing the boundaries of their own creative vision. The anniversary will be celebrated with a 300-page book titled Arts/Industry: Collaboration and Revelation and a sweeping exhibition surveying nearly 350 works of art created by artists-in-residence.

Watch the Arts/Industry: Collaboration and Revelation video

The Arts/Industry program was initiated by the Arts Center and Kohler Co. in 1974 to spark collaborations between artists and industrial artisans. Emerging and established artists from throughout the world work for two to six months on the factory floor alongside the men and women who cast and finish Kohler plumbing products. An unexpected yet significant element of the residency has been the rapport which grows between the artists and the industrial personnel.

Since the program's inception, Kohler has hosted more than five hundred residencies, and artists from around the world have worked in the Pottery, Iron and Brass Foundries, and Enamel Shop of Kohler Co. in Kohler, Wisconsin, to create entirely new bodies of work that would have been difficult if not impossible to make in their studios.

"We're as excited to join the Arts Center in celebrating the 40th year of this innovative program as we were at its inception," said Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Chairman of the Board and CEO of Kohler Co. for the last 42 years. "In addition to being a critical resource for artists, Arts/Industry has had a lasting effect on our business by stretching the capability of the factories, introducing the need for alternative technologies, and presenting new possibilities in design."

The exhibition themes explore experimentation with new media, the multiplicity of industrial production, artists' inventive reinterpretations of plumbing products, and the ambitious scale of works of art made possible by working in the factory. The exhibition and accompanying anniversary publication provide compelling documentation of Arts/Industry's powerful contributions to the development of individual artists' work, the program's critical impact on the broader art world, and the mutually rewarding interactions among artists, industrial artisans and the local community.

"From day one, a critical part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center's mission has been to support underrepresented and emerging artists and art forms. The Arts Center has always been a place where art gets made, not just exhibited," said Ruth DeYoung Kohler, director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. "We took a risk 40 years ago when we launched this collaborative experiment, and are thrilled to be able to celebrate the breadth of work and artists' careers that the program has helped spur."

Arts/Industry: Collaboration and Revelation is on view through August 31, 2014, at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 608 New York Ave., Sheboygan, Wis.

About Kohler Co.
Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, Kohler Co. one of America's oldest and largest privately held companies comprised of more than 30,000 associates. With more than 50 manufacturing locations worldwide, Kohler is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products; engines and power systems; premier furniture, cabinetry and tile; and owner/operator of two of the world's finest five-star hospitality and golf resort destinations in Kohler, and St Andrews, Scotland.

About the John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience. Central to its mission is promoting the understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives, and publications. More information about the Arts Center can be found at jmkac.org.

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