Written by Frank Juarez
It is interesting how small the art world is, especially in Wisconsin. I had heard of Lois Bielefeld and her 2014 exhibition, Androgyny at the Portrait Society Gallery, and that she recently completed a 10-week international residency sponsored by the Museum of Wisconsin Art. But I had never met her until a month ago when she stopped by the Frank Juarez Gallery with a group of friends and introduced herself. She mentioned two new projects, both of which immediately intrigued me. I decided to visit Lois’s studio at the Pitch Project in Milwaukee to learn more about her process and new projects.
Lois’s process begins with the daily mundane to which we rarely give much thought. She draws her inspiration from observing how the everyday activities we all do and the familiar spaces we all encounter shape and reveal our individuality. Although conceptual portraits comprise the majority of her work, she has started exploring with audio interviews, video, and installation pieces to accompany her portraits and tell a more cohesive story.
The first of her two new projects, All In: Shorewood Girls Cross Country, documents her daughter’s cross-country team for the 2015 season. For this project, Lois challenged herself by shooting in a journalistic manner as opposed to her customary composed portraits. For three months, she followed the team of 61 girls to and from meets, pasta dinners, a camping trip, and a sleepover and witnessed many fascinating Shorewood traditions along the way, such as leg striping. She captured the spirit of the team and what ‘all in’ meant to them: more than winning, it meant fostering a safe and inclusive environment where everyone felt respected and loved and thrived because of it.
Lois returned to her conceptual portrait roots on her second new project, Neighborhood. The catalysts for this project among others are that everyone has a neighborhood and many people have the privilege of selecting the neighborhood in which they want to live. Lois explores all of this and more by taking an evening stroll with her subjects in their neighborhood before the portrait. She chose the evening timeframe because that is when perceptions of a neighborhood can change. They converse while walking, point out various points of interest, and eventually select a spot for the portrait.
To learn more about Lois, check out her interview at http://365artists365days.com/2014/10/05/lois-bielefeld-milwaukee-wisconsin/ where she talks about her background, influences, the concept of the “artist studio”, and best time of day to make art. This interview is courtesy of the 365 Artist 365 Days Project: a Frank Juarez Gallery and Greymatter Gallery Collaborative Project.
Lois Bielefeld is a Milwaukee-based photographer and is represented by the Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.
Portfolio of Work