May 23 (from the series Wendover, UT), 2011. Archival pigment print. 18 x 27 inches. Courtesy of the artists.

Milwaukee, WI


Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg combine performance, sculpture, photography, and video to investigate ancestral memory and collective history. In February of 2011, the artists staged a performance using the dress and demeanor of imagined nineteenth-century Midwestern farmers—a set of characters they further developed during residencies with the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah and Goldwell Open Air Museum, near Death Valley, California. The barren landscape of the American West offered them new challenges for acting out survival narratives. Posing in a series of staged photographs, McCaw and Budsberg express a stoic determination as pioneers trying in vain to force a land of perpetual drought to bear fruit. Focusing on the lone figure in a landscape—a time-honored convention of American painting and film—the artists engage in archetypal dramas of man against nature.


Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg have collaborated since 2001 on sculptural projects, performance pieces, site-specific installations, and more recently on photographic and video work. McCaw received her MFA in 1999 from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomsfield, Michigan. Budsberg received his BFA in 2000 from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. McCaw currently teaches at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Cardinal Stritch University. Budsberg is a supervisor at the Steve LACEY 3-D Lab at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. Their work has been shown nationally, most recently at the Portrait Society Gallery and The Black Frame Gallery in Milwaukee, SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, and The York in Los Angeles. They were artists-in-residence at the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Death Valley, MKE<->LAX in Milwaukee and Los Angeles, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah. McCaw and Budsberg have won a number of awards and grants and are publishing an upcoming book of photographs titled States of Matter.