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201 W. Mifflin Street
Madison, WI



Artist-in-residence applicationFEBRUARY 20, 2017 DEADLINE



Jenie Gao is an artist who believes that creativity and hands-on learning are crucial to how we connect with the world and others around us, and how we learn to express our stories so that we may be heard. To honor this belief, Jenie will be creating an installation for the ceiling of the children’s library, about the stories we tell ourselves and of the cycles we repeat.

The installation will consist of a flock of larger-than-life migratory birds that are all native to Wisconsin and made from repurposed clothing. She is asking community members for help with three things: for donations of fabric (thinner fabrics with less stretch are best!) through December and January; for help carving three woodblocks to print patterns on the fabric; and for help cutting the fabric patterns for the birds.

Jenie has chosen to make something for the children’s library as a nod to her own childhood. The public library was her most consistent “daycare,” and she spent countless hours there after school, before her mom got off work to take her home. During that time, Jenie immersed herself in books about nature, human history, and the arts. The library was a place to learn about the world and imagine different possibilities. Some things don’t change, and Jenie continues to draw parallels across generations and relationships between people and the environment. Like birds who fly in unison to counter the wind’s resistance, we as people can choose which cycles we perpetuate. Will we choose to lead by example and teach others to lead as well? Will we share when there’s abundance, gather when things are scarce, and face difficult winds together?

During this residency, Jenie invites people to get their hands involved in transforming the old into the new. She hopes to encourage us to look up and wonder what we could accomplish if we moved with the purpose of rising together.


Come learn how to create your own woodblock print. Jenie will be leading workshops that cover how to create your image, carve your block, and print on paper and fabric. Feel free to bring a t-shirt and wear something you don’t mind getting a little inky!

Wednesday Workshop Dates (up to 10 per class)
Woodblock Carving + Printing Workshops
January 11 from 5-8 pm  
February 1 from 5-8 pm  
*February 28 from 5-8 pm  - register here

Foam Printing: An Abridged Course
January 18 from 6-8 pm
*February 24 from 3:30-5:30 pm - register here

*dates have been changed since original publication, updated workshops are posted here

Community Sewing Groups (up to 5 per session)

Join Bubbler artist-in-residence, Jenie Gao as she embarks on the second part of her residency, Throughout the month of February Jenie will hold group sessions for community members to stop in and help with the construction of larger-than-life fabric birds. These birds will be made from donated clothing items and will hang in the children's area of Central Library when completed.  All skill levels welcome! Please bring your own sewing machine if possible. 

Saturday, February 11 from 1-4pm -  register here
Monday, February 13 from 2-5pm (register here) & 5-8pm - register here
Tuesday, February 14 from 2-5pm - register here
Saturday, February 18 from 1-4pm - register here
Monday, February 20 from 2-5pm
(register here) & 5-8pm- register here
Saturday, February 25 from 1-4pm - register here
Monday, February 27 from 2-5pm - register here
Tuesday, February 28 from 2-5pm - register here


Jenie Gao is an artist specializing in woodcuts, ink drawings, and allegorical storytelling. She sees her work as a teaching tool, a way to challenge conventional wisdom and invite others to do the same. She believes that creativity is how we learn empathy, resilience, and how to envision and live up to other possibilities. Her work across industries has made her a firm believer in different disciplines working together to inform and help one another.

Jenie received her BFA in Printmaking/Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis. Following her studies, Jenie worked in education and nonprofit before going into commercial printing and the pursuit of a career in lean manufacturing: the reduction of waste in business operations.

Two years ago, Jenie left her full-time job to pursue her own business, as an artist, consultant, and proponent of the maker movement. In 2015, she completed two art residencies in Argentina and Chile. She has since continued to collaborate across the worlds of business, the arts, and nonprofit. As a freelancer and consultant, Jenie lends her skills to the causes she cares about. Her recent clients include Planned Parenthood and Artists Working in Education.

Jenie’s love of learning and the arts has a long history. She spent much of her childhood in the public library, and in general left to her own devices without a babysitter, to figure out how things worked and what she was interested in, and to learn about the world through reading, writing, and making art. She considers herself to be a benefactor of having access to the public library. Additionally, because of her previous work in education and manufacturing, Jenie believes that defunding the arts and removing creativity from schools has resulted in our current social, economic, and political divides. She believes that the emerging maker movement and “Buy Local” campaigns are signs that people want to know how things are made and to be connected to those who make the things they use. By valuing creativity in our culture, we can reforge the link between what we think, what we produce, and how we find fulfillment.


CHESS FROM SCRATCH  November - December 2016

SPATULA&BARCODE  September - October 2016


JOSH DUNCAN  June - July 2016 



ANGELA RICHARDSON January - February 2016

BIRD ROSS October - November 2015

JAMES BELLUCCI August - September 2015

PUBLIC PRIVATE June - July 2015

RAIN WILSON April - May 2015


CRAIG GRABHORN December 2014 - February 2015

JUSTIN BITNER September - November 2014

JOE KERMAN July - August 2014


SACHI and LAURA KOMAI March - April 2014

VICTOR CASTRO   December 2013 - February 2014

BARBARA LANDES  September - November 2013