By Benjamin Wideman / Director of Media Relations
“Mrs. Pemmett’s Neo-Victorian Whimsy & Amusements” isn’t your typical exhibit.
“In conventional art exhibits, people look at a piece of artwork for approximately seven seconds before moving on to the next piece,” said Manitowoc artist Joan Emmett. “This is rather annoying when you have put your heart, soul and possibly months of work into a creation.”
In recent years, Emmett’s goal has been to encourage viewers to interact and even play with her artwork.
People will have a chance to do exactly that when Emmett’s steampunk exhibit opens Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Silver Lake College, 2406 S. Alverno Road. The free exhibit continues through Friday, Feb. 19, in the Donald P. Taylor Gallery, located on the first floor of the main building. An artist reception is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21.
“Mrs. Pemmett’s Neo-Victorian Whimsy & Amusements” features rotating krakens, periscopes that let you peek at a bearded lady, a portrait with a beating heart, dirigible races, scientific items re-thought, as well as other interactive work. There are also objects that are simply fun to look at, as well as photography.
Emmett said she was inspired by simple children’s toys and scientific gadgets. “Working the bugs out of simple machines is part of the creative process, and although frustrating at times, it brings a lot of joy – especially once it works,” she said. “I think you will find it quite amusing, and I hope you enjoy these items as much as I have enjoyed making them.”
Emmett was born and raised in California and influenced by her mother’s love of painting and art. She developed a love of antiques and Victorian architecture by traveling in California. She began painting and sculpting regularly in 1997 while living in Kremmling, Colo.
In 1999, Emmett moved to Two Rivers. She has exhibited her artwork at various college campuses, as well as the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan.
In 2012 she found steampunk as a way to combine a love of art and the Victorian aesthetic. She uses unusual mediums like marine epoxy, bathroom calk, ferrofluid, paint and found objects. Much of the work is interactive with slightly scientific/sci-fi overtones.
Emmett said steampunk “mixes all of my favorite things – odd gadgetry, the use of many mediums and an excuse to go antique shopping. It also is a form of rebelling against those everyday ‘modern’ objects that are made cheaply and sold by the millions. The steampunk esthetic celebrates the way everyday items used to be made, like clocks that actually ticked -and still do 100 years later - and steam engines that moved us into new eras.”