"Costa Rican Visions" makes community connection with the Urban Ecology Center
During the fall of 2005 in the Schlueter Art Gallery, Wisconsin Lutheran College art students and two professors, Kristin Gjerdset of WLC and Diane Bywaters of University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, exhibited "Costa Rican Visions," a show featuring art created on location in the Costa Rican rainforest and when they returned to their studios.
However, when the exhibit ended at WLC, it opened a door into the community. As Gjerdset prepared for the show, she began a search for interested individuals in the Milwaukee area. She stumbled across the Urban Ecology Center (UEC), a non-profit community organization located in Milwaukee's historic Riverside Park. The UEC plans an annual trip to the Tirimbina Rainforest Center, the same center that housed the WLC group while they were in Costa Rica.
Gjerdset invited Tim Vargo, UEC research coordinator, to the opening reception. Vargo attended and became excited about the possibility of moving the exhibition to the UEC when it was finished at the college. Ultimately, Vargo and the UEC requested that the students and faculty exhibit their work in the community room of their new building. This new facility is a "green building" built from recycled materials.
The winter 2006 "Costa Rican Visions" exhibit at the UEC drew many people from the east side of Milwaukee who did not travel to Wisconsin Lutheran College when the show was in the Schlueter Art Gallery. During the opening reception, Gjerdset showed slides from the trip and talked about the student's experiences, giving others in the community a chance to see what the Wisconsin Lutheran College experience has to offer.