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Milwaukee artist Janelle Gramling's wall hangings are very on-trend.

Standing in her Clarke Square studio, wearing well-worn combat boots and chunky, colorful jewelry, Janelle Gramling projects an easy sense of style. Her intricate clay-and-cloth wall hangings – many of which are on view throughout the studio – are just as effortlessly on-trend.

Gramling, who began her career as a fashion designer, started working with clay in 2012 and found she liked making ceramics more than clothing. “I realized I was more of a sculptor who worked with cloth than a designer,” she says.

photo by Aliza Baran

She didn’t abandon textiles entirely, though. Instead she began incorporating strips of fabric into her sculptures, creating naturalistic wall hangings timeless enough to appeal to art collectors looking for a long-term investment, trendy enough to attract the interest of mass-market retailers like West Elm, which stocks Gramling’s work online and in its Third Ward store.

“I like making work that’s affordable,” Gramling says. “But I find myself drawn to work that’s conceptual and maybe even a little weird, too.”

Objects of Desire

Var Gallery
Through Aug. 4

Several of Janelle Gramling’s wall sculptures will be on view alongside other three-dimensional works by local artists (including Gramling’s husband, woodworker Matthew Gramling) at Var Gallery’s original location, 643 S. Second St.


“Fired Up” appears in the August 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning July 30th, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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