Shhh… surveys a landscape of propaganda, information and disinformation, darkened by political uncertainty. It’s a story of amorphous narratives, irrational conclusions and omnipresent media – an epic of a nation coming apart under the pressure of its own freedoms and liberties. Set against the backdrop of World War II propaganda posters, Arts + Literature Laboratory seeks a multigenerational group of artists for an exhibition that pictures the universe of a democracy struggling with its personification.

Artists in Shhh… share an interest in propagandist traditions and a fascination for personal narratives within cultural belief systems and experiences. The result hoped for is a more elliptical and emotional version of reality in the works on view, coupled with a belief that the creative license of deliberately manipulating information belongs to the Artist.

In a statement reminiscent of a core principle of early 20th century Surrealism and Dada, “the gratuitous act”, candidate Donald Trump evoked a Breton-esque perspective of the world when he boasted on the campaign trail that he could shoot somebody and not lose voters. We find ourselves in a living, breathing work of surrealist art. Distinctions between what is true and what is false are increasingly blurred in civic life. How do we describe a truth liberated from fact in the visionary language of art? Shhh… proposes to assemble a collection of images, objects and video that span the sensational to the documentary. If folding fact into fiction is an attempt to piece together a deeper truth accessed only through fabrication and imagination, then Shhh… hopes to be an exhibition that not only demystifies, but also poeticizes propaganda.

- Peter Kursel, Guest Curator

Submission Requirements

Artists are invited to submit a proposal to make a new piece or submit an existing work that that uses propaganda, information or disinformation as its point of departure for consideration in the exhibition. The posters will be on view alongside works accepted for the show. They can be used as an image resource as well. There are no stipulations related to scope or medium, however spatial limitations will be a consideration in the decision to include work. Find a map of the gallery through the Poster Collection link below.

The poster collection, generously on loan to Arts + Literature Laboratory, and an essay, "Shhh... A Prelude" by Peter Kursel, Guest Curator for the exhibition, can be found here: Poster Collection / Kursel Essay

Please submit 3-5 high resolution jpegs with a single page pdf file of your proposal that includes images, medium and a description including scale of the work/s proposed. Images should be formatted LastName 1.jpeg. There is no fee, but artists are responsible for delivery and return shipping.

Send proposals via email to:


December 8, 2017: Deadline for proposals

December 9 - December 12, 2017: Notification of accepted proposals

January 27, 2018: Deadline for delivery of accepted works

February 3, 2018: Opening reception of Shhh...

February 24, 2018: Exhibition closes

Peter Kursel: "Swag," acrylic and pillows on canvas, 2017

Peter Kursel is a visual artist and former painting faculty at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He is the founder and former CEO of Dead Straight Stretchers, a company that manufactures supports and surfaces for artists. He is a co-founder of Open Canvas in Milwaukee, WI, an annual fundraiser benefitting the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Kursel's work was the subject of various publications, including Visual Arts Research - University of Illinois Press, and was featured at the James Watrous Gallery, Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, Gallery 1308 at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, the Freeport Art Museum, the Krannert Art Museum, ARC Chicago, BWAC Gallery Brooklyn, and the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies in New York. He lives and works in Madison, WI.

Ready to Visit?

Arts + Literature Laboratory is located in Madison’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood at 2021 Winnebago Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53704.

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11am-3pm during exhibitions or by appointment. Please check the exhibitions calendar before planning your visit, as the gallery is closed between exhibitions and other schedule changes are posted here.


Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Stay up to date on upcoming programs and opportunities through our monthly newsletter.