Our Vision

MadArt supports artists in the creation of new works that expand their professional practices in scope and scale, while facilitating public engagement in the arts. We achieve this in our expansive urban studio, remaining free and open to visitors during all stages of exhibition development, and providing opportunities for public audiences to interact with artists and the creative process. 

At MadArt, we are committed to actively supporting racial equity through inclusive programming, community partnerships, and staff education. We also acknowledge that we are located on ancestral Coast Salish land, including that of the Duwamish People.

Our Story

Arts visionary and philanthropist Alison Wyckoff Milliman founded MadArt in 2009. Her vision of facilitating accessible art experiences by supporting artists in creating new works has been a guiding pillar since MadArt’s inaugural show, The Window Art Project. This group exhibition took place in Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood and involved Milliman garnering the cooperation of shop owners who relinquished their prime storefront windows for art installations. After this show, MadArt’s nomadic programming continued in a variety of public and non-traditional spaces, including houses slated for demolition, a public park, and The University of Washington’s campus. Through these temporary outdoor exhibitions it became clear that not only were public audiences interested in the making aspect of the creative process, but there was a need from artists for studio space in order to build on a larger scale. 

This led to a programmatic expansion that resulted in MadArt Studio, a new, site-responsive, installation-based exhibition space in South Lake Union. Situated in an architecturally distinct, 1920s masonry-and-wood building—redesigned by Graham Baba Architects in 2014—the studio offers a collaborative platform for unique, engaging, and immersive art experiences. Participating artists are encouraged to make works that expand their professional practices and they are given the space and support to do so. Each project is temporary and built on-site, starting with an Open Studio period that provides access into artmaking, and culminating in a traditional exhibition. Between (and sometimes during) exhibitions, MadArt Studio also serves as a unique urban event venue, providing a modern space for weddings, corporate events, intimate dinners, and nonprofit fundraisers. Rental proceeds directly support future artists and programming. This allows MadArt to remain free and open to the public during all phases of exhibition construction, demystifying the creative process and giving visitors and artists the opportunity to engage directly with one another amidst the artwork.

Our Team

Alison Wyckoff Milliman she/her

Founder

Alison Milliman is an art historian, creative entrepreneur and philanthropist who grew up in Seattle, WA. As a young adult she had the opportunity to travel extensively which fostered her curiosity in the many forms of public art. Alison became a certified antique appraiser, fascinated in both how an object was made, as well as the object’s purpose. She first conceived of MadArt while living abroad in Melbourne, Australia, following a desire to rethink how and where we view art in our communities. She received her BA in Art History from the University of Washington and later studied at Christie’s in London, UK.

Emily Kelly she/her

Director + Curator

Emily Kelly joined the MadArt team in June 2017, relocating to Seattle from her native Texas. With a background in arts administration and community-based arts education, Emily is interested in the dynamic ways contemporary art can act as a catalyst for community development and social engagement. Having held leadership positions in a variety of arts organizations, ranging from alternative artist run spaces to university art institutions, Emily brings comprehensive experience to her role as MadArt Director + Curator. She has been an active board member of local 501(c)3 Mini Mart City Park since January 2020. She holds an MA in Art Education with a specialized portfolio in Art and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship from The University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Marketing and Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans.

Katie Wood she/her

Studio & Venue Manager

Katie Wood arrived at MadArt in 2014, just in time for the opening of MadArt Studio, along with our Middle Fork and Mad Campus exhibitions. Raised in Sammamish, WA, she received her degree in Cultural Anthropology from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. After graduating, she spent time as a Colorado ski bum, a tech company office manager, a circus school manager/instructor, and an art consulting intern. When she discovered MadArt, her interest in the arts along with her experience in office management, event planning, and communications made it a perfect fit. She enjoys coordinating the details that go into making MadArt Studio a unique private event venue and being able to support both artists and the community by facilitating the creation of new art installations. Outside of the studio, Katie is a self-employed massage practitioner in Soma Structural Integration and is passionate about movement, holistic health, nature, and the arts.

Les Milliman they/them

Exhibition Coordinator

Les Milliman joined MadArt in 2020. Born and raised in Seattle, they have been influenced and inspired by the local arts cultivation work of their mother, MadArt founder Alison Milliman. Les earned their BS from Dickinson College with a focus on Earth Sciences, and is interested in exploring how creative expression can help us understand and relate to our surroundings, and conceptualize our agency here and now. Building on their experience working as a fabricator for Seattle-based artists, Les sees their role at MadArt as an opportunity to continue supporting creatives in realizing artistic goals. They enjoy this through hands-on fabrication work as well as through the facilitation of exhibition programming to connect with the community.

Photo by James Harnois