Featured Artists



an AFAB/Trans drag show, presented/mansplained by Will X. Uly

Friday, April 17, 2020 at 7:30 pm at the Pyle Center Alumni Lounge

What do you think of when you think of drag? Get ready to develop a new definition!

In “Prax-Sis!: Queerying Gender, Queering Drag,” assigned-female-at-birth (AFAB) and trans performers from UW-Madison and the surrounding community will explore what it means to disrupt hegemonic notions of drag and gender performance/performativity.

This show will be hosted by Will X. Uly (pronounced “Will Actually”), who will “mansplain” the art of drag for the audience. We will:

– Discover what it means to construct gender on and with an AFAB/trans body
– Demonstrate the queering of drag through multiple performance styles and expand audience members’ vocabulary of drag
– Invite attendees to become a part of the performance and examine their own participation in gender construction offstage

This performance will offer a stage to performers who are often excluded from or tokenized on drag stages. It is free and open to the public — but please feel free to bring your $1s to tip the performers!

Kaila Tova is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the UW-Madison Department of Communication Arts. S/he is pursuing a Masters and Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture, with a focus on the line between authenticity and performance and the rhetoric/language of gender performance online, in person, and on the stage. Kaila is the host of the “Your Body, Your Brand” podcast, an audio documentary about neoliberal feminism and online health coaching, and recently moved to Madison after leaving a career in business-to-business marketing in Silicon Valley. Kaila’s background is in theatre and dramaturgy, and s/he has been performing burlesque as DeeDee Queen/Lydia La Vie since 2015 and drag as Will X. Uly since 2017. S/he is an award-winning, internationally-traveled drag and burlesque performer. He is the reigning “Leading Man” of the Hollywood Burlesque Festival and the 2018 winner of the San Francisco Drag King Contest. He is also the 2018 California Burlypicks Master of Amazement and Master of Tassels, as well as winner of the bronze medal. He has chair danced from Anchorage to Amsterdam, and he’s coming all the way from his mother’s basement to mansplain boylesque to you!



Lee Lounge, Pyle Center, April 17 Friday and April 18 Saturday 9:00-4:00

In April 2014, Maggy Rozycki Hiltner was selected to create an installation for the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum’s Dr. Ruth Tan Lim Project Room. As an embroidery artist, filling 72 linear feet of wall space with hand-stitched imagery would be her largest project to date. She began by designing an idealized landscape with a big blue sky, green grass, and puffy white clouds. Researching ways of depicting cloud forms led her to thinking about clouds as water vapor and then water vapor as greenhouse gas. Other clouds—volcanic plumes, mushroom clouds, emissions from factories and puffs rising from the cooling towers of nuclear reactors—drew her attention as well. Her previous work centered on intimate figurative narratives, Dick-and-Jane style kids in semi-autobiographical scenes from childhood. Hiltner was raised in Pennsylvania—the land of coal and steel and industrial waste. The more she researched, the more she knew she had to include pollution, both seen and unseen, from her personal landscape.

Hiltner grew up in the 10-mile evacuation radius of Limerick Generating Station, a nuclear power plant in Pottstown, PA. The Limerick towers could be seen from the windows of her middle school classroom. She swam with her friends in the bathtub-warm water downstream from the power plant. The Schuylkill River, once dubbed America’s foulest river, was cleaned up in the 40’s and 50’s—this meant the coal silt was dredged from the river and dumped in an area neighborhood kids would later call ‘The Black Desert’. After a day of riding bikes through the Black Desert, she had to hose off the black silt before she’d be allowed in the house. On Thanksgiving trips to Grandma’s, her father would make a short detour through Centralia, so the family could check on the progress of the underground coal fire that had been burning there since 1962.

Vantage Point: Hiltner stitched these natural and manmade disasters into her landscape and continued to research. Maps and illustrations drew her to include portolan lines and vanishing points—adding movement and a linear design element and poking fun at her own tendency towards flat representation. She generated a list of terms and places picked up from headlines, news stories, and research, and this text became a ticker informing the scenes. The world she made is still beautiful, but the impact of human consumption and waste is everywhere.



Lee Lounge, Pyle Center, Friday April 17 and Saturday April 18 9:00-4:00

Fine artist, designer and muralist, Rae Senarighi is best known for colorful abstracts, intricate typography and vivid portraiture. Rae began his studies at the University of Montana in 2000 and finished his BFA at the Art Institute of Seattle in 2009, receiving a Hall of Fame Award in 2011. Rae’s detailed, thoughtful works are influenced by a decade of scientific illustration, studying the natural world in micro and macro. His art has been internationally published in Cell, Nature and Science magazines, among others.

Rae is a transgender non-binary artist currently based in Madison, WI. His portrait series, TRANSCEND, celebrates transgender and non-binary individuals throughout the world who are living their lives openly, choosing integrity over safety. The TRANSCEND Series has been featured in Art Voices magazine, the San Francisco Weekly, the Missoulian, the Montana Independent, A Family Co, PM Megazine, Gertrude Press, Edge Media Network, the Philadelphia Metro, Control Forever and DNA India.


Transcend: Netflix and GLAAD invited Rae to celebrate authentic, accurate portrayals of trans characters in media through a series of paintings. He’s also partnered with the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference and Washington Healthcare for All to support healthcare for the transgender community.


The Flowers Are Burning…Oceans A Rising: An Art and Climate Justice Exhibition


(Digital Exhibit)

AT&T Lounge, Pyle Center, Friday April 17 and Saturday April 18 9:00-4:00

The Full Exhibition is on Display from
April 16-June 25, 2020
Holy Wisdom Monastery
Opening Reception April 16, 2020, 5-8pm
More Information

Helen Klebesadel is an artist, an educator, and an activist. Born and raised in rural Spring Green, Wisconsin, Helen maintains a studio in Madison, Wisconsin. She is best known for her environmental and women centered watercolors. She uses the creative process to think visually so she can use her creative process to help her and to understand the world. She believes her artwork create narratives that re-examine and re-present existing power structures so we can notice when they hurt humans and nature.

Helen’s watercolors push the traditional boundaries of the medium in scale, content, and technique. Ranging in size from the intimate to the monumental, her paintings are transparent watercolors on paper and canvas. She starts with detailed drawings and developing the images with layer upon layer of color washes and dry brush technique mixed with occasional areas of wet-into-wet spontaneity.

Klebesadel exhibits her work nationally and internationally, including having shown her watercolors in several American Embassies through the Arts in the Embassies Program. The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum presented her first solo museum exhibition in 1994. Her artwork is represented in the art collections of the American Council on Education, the Racine Art Museum, West Bend Mutual Insurance, Lawrence University, UW Hospitals and Clinics, Central Wisconsin Center, the Dubuque Medical Clinic, the St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island, Nebraska and numerous private collections. Several of her watercolors addressing environmental themes are also in the collections of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. as well as the University’s Trout Lake Research Station.

“The Flowers Are Burning” seeks to both evoke a sense of alarm at our immediate need to address urgent environmental concerns, and hold up the vision of the possibility of rising from the ashes of restorative prairie burn.Artists Mary Kay Neumann and Helen Klebesadel embrace the potential of flower as metaphor. Their watercolor paintings explore the poetic, symbolic and political representations flowers offer in exploring both human nature and the natural world. Recognizing and celebrating cultural association of flowers with the feminine, they pointedly render their paintings with strong color palettes, rich implied emotional content, and complex compositions. Their large expressive flower paintings create environments of saturated color and texture that belies the fragility of flowers.They consciously shift the historical stereotype of the female “flower painter” from something to be avoided by the serious woman artist, to embracing flowers as creative and critical metaphors that are an inspiration for breaking through the paralysis of overwhelming despair and coming together with shared purpose.Themes that move Klebesadel revolve around concerns for the negative effect of climate change on the birds, bees, and butterflies we take for granted, and by extension, what it means for humans. At the same time, she holds out the possibility of abundant rejuvenation that prairie fires bring when nature is in balance with human activity. Neumann’s sunflower fields have looming fires that evoke the ominous droughts in California, and hint at the current ocean crises of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, where the starfish are literally melting away. Haunted by the phenomenon of destructive climate change, the artists intend to use their art to counter the denial and despair in favor of encouraging actions that could make a difference.Both artists create large-scale watercolor paintings with rich color saturation. They exhibit individual artworks with shared themes and, for the first time, paintings that are co-painted. Helen and Mary Kay collaboratively painted several works through back and forth exchange. An amazing synergy emerged from their shared feminist values, allowing effective co-operation and creative collaboration with wonderful results, modeling a process we will all need to make real and productive change for our shared future.The artists invite you to ponder these questions while viewing their paintings: “What are you missing that used to be abundant, or what are you concerned will be lost if we don’t make the necessary changes? Are you willing to take positive actions to contribute to making a real difference? How can we find ways to work together to create the world we want to live in?”


Various Workshops

Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli is a mixed media artist, art journaler, facilitator of workshops live and online, archetype consultant and author of Art Journal Your Archetypes. She holds an M.A. in expressive arts therapy, and is the previous Program Director for VSA Arts Wisconsin (arts and disabilities).

Her 2019 community art project is creating travel-sized, portable inspirational art for the outgoing residents of a local domestic abuse shelter – DAIS Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. This project is partly funded by Dane Arts.

Art-making and Self-care with Upcycled Materials

Friday, April 17 2-3:15 (session 3) and Saturday, April 18 10:30-11:45 (session 5)

During this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants will be introduced to a variety of ways to engage in art-making for self-care with free or low cost materials. These art-making experiences can be utilized by anyone and almost anywhere. They are meant to instill a sense of relaxation, fun, and possibly open the door to a bit of self-discovery.



Lee Lounge, Pyle Center, Friday April 17 and Saturday April 18 9:00-4:00

The Tar Sands Storytelling Project is a collaborative, grass-roots and first of its kind visual arts exhibit. Over the course of six months, 10 Wisconsin artists researched, rendered, and reflected upon the cradle to grave story of tar sands oil in Wisconsin. The 10 panel exhibit of their work depicts different aspects of tar sands oil and pipeline infrastructure in the context of the global climate crisis. The exhibit first opened on April 26th, 2019 at the Clark Cultural Arts Center (CCART) in Neillsville, WI.

The exhibit is comprised of ten 2ft x 4ft panels that are each produced by one of the ten artists. Collectively, they show a chronology of the tar sands oil extractions, preparation, and trnasportation processes. From the destructive mining actiity in Alberta, Canada, to the disregard for Indigenous treaty rights and the potential for the seizure of private property, the artists illustrated a story that exposes the threat tar sands pose to people and the environment.



Alumni Lounge, Pyle Center, Saturday April 18 @ 1pm

Farmington, NM-based Latina, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas is known for exploring gender, sexuality, identity, and socio-political topics in her spoken word performances. She received an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (Hoffberger School of Painting) and a BFA from The University of North Texas. In 2019, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas was featured in Santa Fe, NM’s the/magazine as “12 Artists in New Mexico to Know Now”.

Ms. Meza-DesPlas’ moves effortlessly through varying tempos and characters to create performances made up of frank and touching vignettes. The visual of her stage presence is accentuated by innovative costumes. Ms. Meza-DesPlas’ recent spoken word performances were at Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM; Amos Eno Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; FreeForm Art Space, Santa Fe, NM; Durango Arts Center, Durango, CO; and ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL.

In 2018, she presented the academic paper Reclaiming the Tool of Anger: Year of the Angry Women at the 9th International Conference of the Image in Hong Kong. Her academic paper Heaviness, Hardship, Heft: Gender-based Burdens in Images was published in 2018 by the International Journal on the Image, Volume 9, Issue 3.

Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, a spoken word performer, presents a set of poetry titled Normative Discontent. A term coined in the 1980s, normative discontent originally referred to a woman’s dissatisfaction with her body. Meza-DesPlas stretches the original definition and alludes to the feminine discontent which birthed recent social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Women’s Marches, Times Up and #MeToo. Referencing contemporary socio-political topics, Meza-DesPlas’ energetic riffs capture everywoman’s emotive highs and lows from anger to disappointment. Ms. Meza-DesPlas moves effortlessly through varying tempos and characters to create performances made up of frank and touching vignettes. Visually, her stage presence is accentuated by innovative costumes and props.




Performer Roundtable Discussion, Pyle Center TBD, Friday April 17 @ 2pm-3:15pm

Around the turn of the millenium, the humanitarian crisis through which we are passing tipped a threshold: climate refugees began to outpace war refugees. Some 25 million were displaced in 1999 due to famine, drought, and torrential storms. So enters Afro Yaqui Music Collective’s jazz opera, Mirror Butterfly: the Migrant Liberation Movement Suite, which dramatizes and musicalizes years of interviews and movement building with environmental and ecosocialist activists in Mexico, Syria, Kurdistan, and Tanzania. A 25-piece postcolonial big band delivers three portrait arias, woven in what poetic playwright Ruth Margraff calls “vocal art,” all accompanied by martial arts Afro-Asian choreography (Peggy Myo-Young Choy). The result been hailed as a “praise-song to the wretched of the Earth.” (Marcus Rediker, author, The Slave Ship) The staged work has travelled both activist and performing arts spaces: it has been presented at the Kennedy Center in DC, at the Mesopotamian Water Forum in Iraq, at the New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh (where it was incubated) and now, is available in this album form–a global siren call for a new world where many worlds fit.

Ben Barson is a composer, baritone saxophonist, historian, educator, and political activist, whose research and compositional practices interrogate the interfaces of the jazz idiom’s Afro-diasporic, American Indigenous, and Asian American influences. Composer and saxophonist Fred Ho was his mentor.

Gizelxanath Rodriguez is an internationally renowned vocalist, educator, and Indigenous rights and ecological justice activist.

Together, Barson and Rodriguez co-founded the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, an ensemble that combines Afro-Asian musical and political affinities with inspiration from the music of the Yaqui of northern Mexico. Barson and Rodriguez work to incorporate voices of regional and indigenous communities in the creation of their boundary pushing interdisciplinary works.

Charlotte Hill O’Neal aka Mama C, is a writer/poet, visual artist, musician, healer, inspirational speaker, longtime community activist and Director of United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) based in Tanzania, East Africa.

Nejma Nefertiti is a powerful Hip Hop/theater artist, sound designer, songwriter, and creator of natural perfumes. Her revolutionary matriarchal legacy is to create awareness, inspiration, and social change throughout the entire world, for all oppressed peoples, through Hip Hop culture and art.



Location and Time TBD

Laura Nash-Margo posterThe words and images that surround us influence how we think about and move through the world. Movies and television shows, advertisements, books, magazines, social media, news media. The narratives presented by these media, whether we pause to think about them critically or not, all inform how we treat each other, how we choose to build our lives, and how we envision the future. Through this project I celebrate narratives that uplift disabled femmes, that depict disabled femmes as powerful agents in their own lives and others’. Too often, narratives, if they include disabled femmes at all, portray them as pitiable, treat them as inspiration porn, use them as a way to demonstrate a protagonist’s morality, kill or cure them by the end of the story. This leads people to view disabled femmes as archetypes rather than whole people. But disabled femmes ARE whole people, and we deserve to be represented as such.

I’m a neurodivergent writer and artist, freelance creative, and graduate student in Critical Studies and Applied Craft + Design at Pacific Northwest College of Art. I strive for a more just future through storytelling and making.