Everything Has a Story

work by Darlene Wesenberg Rzezotarski

Everything Has a Stoy

Everything Has a Story offers a retrospective of Darlene Wesenberg Rzezotarski's work to date. Wesenberg Rzezotarski begins her creative practice by researching and reflecting on historical narratives, myths, or tales. Using this gathered information, she creates sculptures that delve into the lives of Increase Lapham and Lizzie Kander, as well as mythological beings such as Daedalus and Icarus, to name only a few. Rendered as ceramic objects, the main subjects of these stories are situated centrally and represented figuratively, while iconographic images and phrases float around each character building the metaphoric scenery in which their stories occur. Wesenberg Rzezotarski’s gestural approach to shaping the clay animates these characters and makes their presence palpable, as if the represented individuals are themselves sitting within the vignettes. This vitality may be why some sculptures have inspired the creation of subsequent pieces, allowing the stories to unfold in series, furthering their narrative arcs, and creating rich tableaus. Wesenberg Rzezotarski crafts her stories using clay as well as the written word, with published books of prose and poetry. Everything Has a Story will comprise selections from both her sculptural and written works.

Darlene “Lolly” Wesenberg Rzezotarski is a storyteller—through word and clay. She arrived in Milwaukee in 1965, thinking she’d teach here one year to repay student loans and move on. But something happened: She fell in love with the place. More than fifty years later, she remains involved in writing, teaching, and creating ceramic art. With a master’s degree in comparative literature from UWM, she has taught English for MPS and has shared her love of writing and the creative arts with generations of students. She looks back with gratitude on that day in 1982 when she first put her hands in clay. A coil-pot in the form of a snake emerged. She inscribed the word hiss-story inside. Since then, she has developed her ability to create ceramic sculptures, eventually setting up a home studio and offering hand-building workshops. Her sculptures are described as narrative in nature, anchored in history or myth, often site-specific. She is the author of three books: Trick a Witch, Wed a Hedgehog, Save your Soul: An American Artist Encounters Poland; Memorable Milwaukee: Legendary Tales Depicted in Clay; and Tannenbaum Arms, a novel set in Milwaukee in the Vietnam Era, first appearing in monthly installment form in the Riverwest Currents in 2022.


We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. 

We further acknowledge the grave evil colonialism introduced to these lands ​through genocide as well as slavery, and also via racist and xenophobic ​beliefs, laws​, and practices that continue to inflict harm upon Black, brown, and Indigenous lives. We honor those who have lived—and do live, now—at these intersections of identity and experience, and are committed to the active dismantling of white supremacy.

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