“Life without labor is guilt. Labor without art is brutality.” – John Ruskin

In the Village of Kohler, site of Kohler Co. headquarters, artistic expression is woven into the landscape. Since its inception 150 years ago, the company has operated on the belief that artistry—provocative and meaningful—is as essential to our success as innovative design and quality materials. Working to create connection between these worlds of art and industry, the company collaborated with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in 1974 to launch the Arts/Industry artist residency program. Unparalleled in reputation, the international residency has hosted over 500 artists from over 25 countries. The artists work side-by-side with Kohler Associates and actively engage the factory’s pottery, foundry, enamel and plating facilities. 

Inspiring artists to think differently about their craft while sparking the imagination of the Kohler Associates, Arts/Industry celebrates the shared values that are intrinsic to all forms of material production. Over the years this unique interplay between industrial production and artistic invention has produced a bountiful and seemingly endless collection of outstanding artworks. The Arts/Industry Walking Tour provides an opportunity to explore firsthand the abundant creativity that has emerged from this culturally influential collaboration. Exhibiting playful motifs or monumental abstraction, the sculptures will activate your imagination and pique your curiosity. 

Map and Guide to The Arts Industry Walking Tour, Kohler, Wisconsin

Arts/Industry Program Featured Artists

Arts/Industry: Sarah K. Khan

Radically unapologetic and brilliantly nuanced, multimedia artist and scholar Sarah K. Khan introduces us to her pantheon of heroes, their lives unbound from the 16th-century Book of Delights.

Arts/Industry: Joann Quiñones

Arts/Industry resident Joann Quiñones explores material culture, in particular 18th century decorative arts, complicating the narratives of who and what is valued in society and why.

Arts/Industry: Jesse Harrod

Arriving at the residency after their twelfth heart surgery and keenly aware of their body, Jesse’s work imagines new possibilities at the intersection of queerness and neuro or physical divergence.

Arts/Industry: Chotsani Elaine Dean

Arts/Industry resident Chotsani Elaine Dean offers a unique perspective on working with clay, economies built on trade, and creating art in a manufacturing setting.

Arts/Industry: Harold Mendez

L.A. artist and recent Kohler Arts/Industry resident Harold Mendez shares his experience as a first-generation American exploring the intersection of art, culture, and identity.

Arts/Industry: Talia Mukmel

See Israeli artist Talia Mukmel at work in the Kohler foundry during her Arts/Industry residency. Get a glimpse into her process and the inspiration behind her art.

An artist in Kohler Co.'s Arts/Industry program uses a small tool to shape a clay sculpture

Watch art come to life in our factories.

More than 500 artists have passed through and been inspired by our Wisconsin factories since the Arts/Industry program began in 1974. Watch former artists-in-residence share their experiences.

Our stories

Kids and adults from Kohler's India Technical Center sit around tables loaded with art supplies, working on creative projects together

Art in schools.

Bringing joy and kindness to kids who really need it, our associates share their time and energy to help kids express themselves through art.

Amidst a busy background, two women look at a sculpture that's part of Multiculturalism, an exhibit from the Bold. Art. Program

Expressions of multiculturalism.

Artists transform our raw materials into unexpected art pieces, and we’re taking this work on a regional tour. 

Ruth DeYoung Kohler II (1941 – 2020)

A tremendous loss to the international arts community and to everyone who knew and loved her, Ruth DeYoung Kohler died Saturday, November 14, at her home in Kohler, Wisconsin, at the age of 79.

Your Kohler story begins here.