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Exhibition Haggerty Museum of Art:

(Re)Housing the American Dream 

August 18 – December 23 2016, Milwaukee

Installation views (Re)Housing the American Dream at the Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, 2016

Kirsten Leenaars exhibition (Re)Housing the American Dream, on view at the Haggerty Museum of Art, is the result of Leenaars’ year-long exploration of the notions of home, belonging and happiness in context of the American Dream in Milwaukee’s Near West Side. Leenaars created the project in collaboration with students from two neighborhood schools—Highland Community School and the International Newcomer Center at the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language. Personal stories from the students serve as metaphors to explore the real and imagined reality of this Dream. Delving into the complex notions of place, person, community, family, country, origin, land, or a moment of time as a site of identification, with being a person. The main three-channel video installation ponders the enduring question of what it means to be human and how this has become inextricably from the question who we are to each other? How is the American Dream both an individual and collective dream? These young residents of Milwaukee imagined and (re)envisioned the American Dream and what is most required to allow this dream unfold.

(Re)Housing the American Dream has turned into a cumulative performative documentary project (2015-ongoing). This experimental multi-year documentary project follows a group of American and refugee youths, growing up in the time of Trump, through the collective making of performative video and text based work exploring the construct of the American Dream. The production period is structured as an annual summer camp in which the works are developed through collaborative processes with the participants. The produced work reflects on current socio-political issues, their lived experiences, individual perspectives and their collective imagination. The annual works cumulatively inform each other and tell the story of a resilient, diverse, opinioned group of youngsters living in divisive times.       


Support for this exhibition and accompanying programs is generously provided by the Mary Martha Doerr Endowment Fund, the Richard P. Herzfeld Endowment Fund, the Joan Pick Endowment Fund, and the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Curator: Emilia Layden.

Project website:

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