Skip to main content

'Clear Water' exhibit opens Feb. 1 in Foster Gallery

| Amanda Bulger

Photo caption: Melanie Walby will take part in virtual events to accompany her Foster Gallery exhibit, "Clear Water," which runs from Feb. 1 -March 7.

The Artist Series and the Foster Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have partnered to present "Clear Water," a graphic design exhibit by Minneapolis-based designer Melanie Walby. The exhibit examines how racism manifests in everyday life and more importantly, what to do about it. The show will be installed in the Foster Gallery from Feb. 1-March 7, and is free and open to Blugold students, faculty and staff. A gallery video tour will be accessible to the general public on the Foster Gallery webpage.  

Interim Foster Gallery director Amanda Bulger is excited to share this important exhibit with the campus and area communities, an exhibit Walby tailored for this particular audience. 

"This exhibition is specifically designed for the Blugold and greater Eau Claire community. Confronting racism in our community can be challenging and uncomfortable but Walby has designed this exhibition to offer healing, liberation and joy," Bulger says.

Virtual Gallery Tour

Virtual Artist Talk and Musical Performances: Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Preregister at

Virtual Panel Discussion: March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Preregister at

Artist Statement:

Melonie Welby_podium

Melanie Walby, who calls Eau Claire her hometown, is an active voice in the Minnesota art, design and sustainability communities.

"Once you see the fishbowl you can’t unsee the clear water. It was through studying and making relationships with people who were further along in their learning than me that I was able to understand racism systemically — not as something that only racist people do, but as a thoughtful, intentional design that people made sure happened on purpose for hundreds of years. The work is designed as though I’m in conversation with another person of color. It walks the viewer through my own process of unlearning and ends with where I’m trying to go. My exhibition offers grace in the reality that none of us are done. It points to scriptures that we can use for inspiration while working to build a better world. And it holds the viewer accountable to themselves and others in the same loving way that God has done for us. I want people to leave this exhibit with a new understanding of dismantling racism that feels more spiritual than divisive. This is "Clear Water.'"

Walby grew up in Eau Claire and received a bachelor's degree in graphic design from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. She spent several years in the design and marketing world before making a move to nonprofit work as a communications manager. She currently serves as design director for Pollen Midwest, a Minneapolis media arts organization that "fosters empathy, encourages connection across differences and inspires meaningful action by sharing stories of individuals who want to change our collective story for the better." 

Walby has served on the board of the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts as the director of sustainable design and was recently named to the Minnesota Ad Federation's "32 under 32" list of artists to follow. She also has been featured in industry publications like Communication Arts magazine and Adobe Creative Jam, recognized for the ways in which her works demonstrate "a deep understanding of how art and design move people toward social change."  

To see the "Clear Water" exhibit in the gallery, campus members may attend during open gallery hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; 6-8 p.m. Thursdays; and 1-4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.