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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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Pegi Christiansen

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artist bio

Pegi Christiansen is a freelance organizer, writer, educator, and performance artist. She co-founded IN:SITE in 2005, an arts organization fostering temporary public art. In 2004 she founded and was the co-producer of the Performance Art Showcase, highlighting talents from Southeastern Wisconsin in an annual show. In 2011 the Performance Art Showcase merged into IN:SITE. From 2006 through August of 2011, she was a member of the Milwaukee County Public Art Committee. She is a consultant for public art policy.

Christiansen received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin in 1976 and her MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1995.

IN:SITE: Temporary public art can dovetail with a city's infrastructure needs. The art can respond to the immediate concerns of a neighborhood and highlight community strengths. Permanent pubic art can't do this because places change over time. IN:SITE, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been curating, managing, promoting, and maintaining six-month cycles of temporary public art since the spring of 2006. All of IN:SITE's projects have been located in neighborhoods that do not generally have the resources to fund permanent public art. IN:SITE brings artists and the community together for the benefit of both. It means mentoring artists. It means opening discussions about pubic art before, during, and after installations. Since multiple sites are usually involved, IN:SITE installations demand developing collaborative relationships with government officials, the police, businesses, schools, and organizations.
http://insitemilwaukee.org/

CONSULTING: Christiansen has provided assistance for public art projects across the country, including Atlanta GA, Austin TX, and Palm Beach FL. This year, she amassed Wisconsin art community support to advance a digital billboard art initiative with Lamar and Clear Channel Outdoor that will take place in October 2013.

PERFORMANCE ART SHOWCASE: In 2008 the showcase produced MY VOTE PERFORMS where there was original, non-partisan performance art about citizenship and voting at 11 different polling places in Milwaukee for the 2008 presidential election. It was a first-of-its-kind project in the country and received national attention.

WRITING: In 2003 Christiansen received grant money to write a booklet titled Convergence: Performance Art in Milwaukee. It was published by Walker�s Point Center for the Arts in 2004. Since 1991, articles have come out in national venues, including Salon.com, and in local printed and online periodicals. Christiansen started her own blog in 2011 (http://pegichristiansen.org/).

TEACHING: Christiansen has taught at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, the Milwaukee Area Technical College, and adult education for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Outreach. She has conducted workshops about temporary public art and performance art. Christiansen is adept at facilitating discussion and uses this skill in an ongoing way at meetings.

PERFORMANCE ART: Christiansen has performed from coast to coast. She is currently working on a piece titled "Altar Ego: Wisconsin."

BUSINESS: From 1979 to 1990, Christiansen co-owned Webster's Books in Milwaukee. It was a neighborhood independent bookstore. The store hosted many author appearances, distributed a bimonthly newsletter, imported books from Britain to fill in specialty areas, and had a book club where you didn't need to read the book to come. The bookstore was Christiansen's first attempt at creating community. Her business experience helped her become adept at juggling multiple tasks.

EDUCATION: Rhetoric is about the making of meaning. Christiansen can "read" a text, whether that is a piece of writing, a painting, or the way a neighborhood functions. Anthropology fuels this process. The basis of cultural anthropology is that what people say is never what is really going on. You have to spend time embedded at a place to understand it.

WORK PHILOSOPHY: Christiansen is a workhorse who plods ahead to accomplish an objective. She cares about being as inclusive as possible.