Artist and curator Faythe Levine has returned to Wisconsin to add to her impressive list of creative endeavors.
Welcome to the year of the woman! In this new web series, we will be shining a spotlight on several local women, on top of their game in a variety of fields, showcasing the diversity of interesting and accomplished women in our fine city. See the rest of our Spotlight on Women series.
Faythe Levine has made an indelible impact on the cultural fabric of Milwaukee. As founder of Art vs.Craft – one of the first annual markets for makers – and curator of Paper Boat and Sky High in Gallery, both of which were located in Bay View, she’s had an accomplished career so far. Did I mention she also directed a feature-length film about sign painters that showed at the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival?
She’s here back in Wisconsin after a short reprieve to lend her multiple artistic talents to the Kohler Arts Center.
Name: Faythe Levine
Hometown: Currently based in Sheboygan, WI; grew up in Washington state
Occupation: Assistant Curator, John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Other titles/past lives: Gallery owner, author, director, and independent artist
As an artist, what’s your preferred medium?
My choice of medium depends on what I am focusing on, but I tend to be drawn to photography and mixed-media collage.
What’s your favorite thing about being back in Wisconsin?
I lived in Milwaukee from 2001-2014, and when I finally left, I never expected to return. I moved back this past October and it instantly felt like home. Making the decision to live in Sheboygan instead of Milwaukee was huge, but I don’t have to commute and I’m an hour away from a city I love. Really I’m excited I get to see the children of my friends grow up and am able to directly support the wide range of local businesses that people I know have opened in the past few years. Getting to focus energy back into an institution that had a huge influence on my life is really a great feeling.
How have you seen the cultural landscape and or/attitudes change since you’ve been back?
It’s a huge relief to feel the shift of more spaces being inclusive and safe for all types of folks. It’s encouraging to see visible change in regards to more diversity in spaces that have been traditionally dominated by white heteronormative cis-gendered men. We all need to continue to do the work ensuring people feel safe, welcome and comfortable regardless of skin color, gender or sexual identity.
What type of education do you have?
I am a autodidact who has invested a lifetime to working in creative community, creating various types of projects motivated by approachability, awareness, direct action, equality and feminism.
Most impactful professional experience?
Prior to getting hired this fall at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, I’d say it was holding my first published book in my hands and having my documentary films screen at the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery in Washington DC.
Defining moment in your personal life?
Moving to Tennessee in 2015 to live with a rural queer community, learning how to slow down, recharge and take care of my mental and physical self.
Hardest lesson you’ve learned?
Learning to say no, admitting I can’t do it all and realizing that burning the candle from both ends isn’t sustainable. Discovering that finding a healthy relationship to work is fluid like most things in life and productivity isn’t the only way to measure success.
What do you do when you have free time?
Weather permitting, I get outside, walk around and look for new spots to explore. During the dark days of winter, I’m revisiting my yoga practice, focusing on maintaining friendships and cooking a lot of soup.