Hidden in the Heartland: John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Washrooms

Six artists, six masterfully crafted…bathrooms? That’s right folks. At the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI, the washrooms are as much an attraction as the art pieces themselves. The resident artists commissioned were given free range to make use of the materials, style and theme of their choosing and they certainly made the most of their free-styling. In this edition of Hidden in the Heartland we give you a visitor’s cheat-sheet to this Alice-in-Wonderland-esque world.


Sheboygan Men’s Room by Ann Agee

The artist worked with pantones of blue and white to develop patterns and designs reminiscent of water. All the images make reference to real places in Sheboygan where the community interacts with water sources.



The Women’s Room by Cynthia Consentino

Hand cast and painted tiles paying homage to the female body and fashion are the theme for this WC. The artist plays with the role of women in society and crafts over 120 pieces representing fashionable accessories.



Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know by Carter Kustera

Kustera modeled his blank (toilette) canvas after a community engagement exercise in which he asks 900 Art Center members to send in their name and a sentence describing them. He then proceeded to document the answers in his tiles and includes a call to action on the mirror, asking visitors to “Tell me something I don’t already know about.”



Filling and Emptying by Merrill Mason

Cast iron and lace are the central themes on which Mason hones in for this room, recreating a woman’s private dressing room. All the commodes and lavatories are also the artist’s creation and include text like “emptying and filling” and “swirling, swirling, around and around and down.”



The Social History of Architecture by Matt Nolen

The artist pays tribute to the evolution of architecture through the different periods. Floor to ceiling murals cover the walls along the room, drawing in both men and women.



Childhood Vitreous by Casey O’Connor

O’Connor used old plush toys to cast statues for niches in the wall. The tiles feature drawings of family members, pets and fantasy creatures by Arts Center Preschool students. There is a strong presence of primary colors, and O’Connor finishes off the room with a bright blue scalloped toilet and a toddler-size sink.



Images and reference information provided by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center