Lisa Frank

Through my artwork I explore themes related to environment, nature, pattern and place. My work begins with a deeply felt connection to the natural world and rises up from my exploration of it.

Bearing witness to haphazard wonders in both nature and in constructed “nature-like” environments, my activity of taking pictures creates a visual diary - it illuminates my position within the natural world while documenting changing evidence of the ordinary and the astonishing. Whether jellyfish from an aquarium or Lady Slippers from the Appalachian Trail, the pictures become part of a library of remembrances stored for a later date when they might possibly be reorganized and composited. This photographic journal keeping forms a personal, arbitrary, asymmetrical time chart that is deeply resonant for me and key to my understanding of what it means to be alive and of this world.

Although the source of my work is a wandering discipline of collecting, the final results are fabricated constructions. Densely ornamental, my artwork refers to the interior decoration documents of Britain’s Aesthetic Movement, to natural history painting and dioramas, and to Dutch still life painting.“Naturalistic” is imposed on nature; time is suspended.
I present work in several different ways: as solitary, “almost” repeating patterns; as stand-alone tapestry-like designs; as still life; and as floor to ceiling sections, or “specimen panels” that combine patterns with “trompe l’oeil” mouldings, borders and friezes. Many are layered over designs by William Morris, Ernst Haeckel and others. These backgrounds provide a formal, organizing armature. Although traces remain visible, the past is abandoned in favor of improvisational detail and elaborate surfaces.

Lighting effects that spark and bend have become part of recent work. What I am looking to communicate are those flashes of momentary connectedness with nature that are like “shining from shook foil” — when the walking-stick insect steps out from its camouflage and becomes wildly recognizable when just an instant before it was not detected.

The use of pattern and composition tames these experiences but transcendental connection to wildness remains felt and awaits expression. It is my purpose to draw the viewer into a local world as it hasn’t been seen before, to create a context for connection—charged with wonder—richly complex while being inclusive and accessible.

Lisa A. Frank 2019

Photo of  Lisa Frank

Nature of Pattern

Cabinet of Curiosities

Specimen Panels

Tapestries 2013 - 2014

Still Even Series 2013-2015

To Be In Any Form

Tableaux 2014



University of Wisconsin-Madison, MFA Design Studies, 2011.
School of Visual Arts, NYC, Digital Imaging and Textile Design, 2000-2004.
Yale School of Drama, Scenic Art and Design, Graduate Certificate, 1981-1982. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Graduate Department of Art, 1979-1980.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, BS Art Education, 1979.
Center for Photography in Woodstock, workshops and reviews, 2005-2007.


MacDowell Colony Evelyn Stephanson Nef Photography Fellow, 2015.
D2P Discovery to Product Igniter Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015-16. Senior Fellow, Design Studies Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015. MacDowell Colony Fellow in Photography, 2014.
Senior Research Fellow, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois, 2013. Honorary Fellow, Living Environments Laboratory, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, UW-Madison, 2012. David and Edith Sanaiko Frank Fellowship for a Woman in the Arts, UW-Madison, 2011.
Year of the Arts Award for Design Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison Arts Institute, 2011. Dane County Cultural Affairs Grant, 2011.


Virtual Reality Application Designer and Founder, Wonder [VR] Studio, 2015-19.
Developing a suite of exploratory virtual environments based on photographic interpretations of the natural world. Collaborating with the Children’s Hospital of Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY, to create VR apps to be used as pain management tools.

Lecturer, Design Studies Department and Art Department, UW-Madison, 2008-2018.
Art #176: “Intro to Digital Photography”.
Design Studies #501: “Pattern and Surface Design for Textile and Interior Designers” Design Studies #327: “Manual & Computer Generated Imagery and Pattern” Design Studies #501: “Design for Digitally Printed Fabrics”
Design Studies #699: “Independent Study: Digital Printing for Apparel Design” Graduate Teaching Assistant:
Mechanical Engineering #351/352: “Interdisciplinary Experiential Design Projects” Art 376:“Beginning Photography”

Projection Designer, Bach Dynamite and Dancing Society, Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI, 2016.
Designed projections for classical music series that included 5 concert programs with unique artwork for 20 pieces of music.

Instructor, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, October, 2014.
Course: “A Lens on the Natural World”

Instructor, Penland School of Crafts, June, 2012.
Course: “Discovering the Natural World through Technology”


Solo Exhibition, Zia Art Gallery, 10/18. Photography 2018, Carrie Haddad Gallery, 8/18. Photo 18, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, 5/18.
Neo-Victorians, Hudson River Museum, 2/18.
The Capitol at 100: Madison Artists Celebrate the Centennial, 11/17.
Solo Exhibition, Zia Art Gallery, 5/17. Collection, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, 11/16. Photography Now, Zia Gallery, 8/16.
Photography 2015, Carrie Haddad Gallery, 12/15.
Photography Now, Zia Gallery, 8/15.
Creative Consciousness, Promega Gallery, 5/15.
Solo Exhibition, ZIA Gallery, 4/15. Solo.
An Expansive Vision: Photographers Working for Penland’s Future, Cassilhaus, Durham, NC, 2/15.
Photography, 2014, Carrie Haddad Gallery, 12/14.
Photography Now, ZIA Gallery, 6/14.
Stilleven, James Watrous Gallery, 5/13. Solo.
Garden Song, John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheyboygan Art Center, 4/13.
1:der - Pattern for a 3-D Virtual Environment, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada, 3/13. Solo.
1:der - Pattern for a 3-D Virtual Environment, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 3/13. Solo.
1:der - Pattern for a 3-D Virtual Environment, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, 12/12. Solo.
Our Gardens, Inside and Out, Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI, 6/12.
Instructor Exhibition, Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC, 5/12.
New Work, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY, 4/12.
The Pattern that Connects, Sundance Gallery, Madison, WI, 1/12. Solo. One and Only, John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI, 10/11. The Pattern that Connects, Steenbock Gallery, Madison, WI, 6/11. Solo.
The Nature of Pattern, Carrie Haddad Photographs, Hudson, NY, 1/11. Solo.
Snow White, Carrie Haddad Photographs, Hudson, NY, 12/10.
Framed, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 10/10. Digital Salon, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 5/10. ARTspace, Madison Arts Commission, Madison, WI, 2/10.
The Nature of Surface, Overture Galleries, Madison, WI, 1/10. Cabinet of Curiosities, UW Arboretum, Madison, WI, 11/09. Solo. Natural Elements, Be Gallery, High Falls, NY, 10/07.
New Work, Be Gallery, High Falls, NY, 07/07.
2006 Photography Biennial, Juror’s Recognition Award, Edward Hopper House Art Center, Nyack, NY, 8/06.
Art Biologic, Limner Gallery, Slow Art Productions, Phoenicia, NY, 5/06.
Photowork ‘06, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, 3/06.

Montefiore Medical Center, New York, 2017. Seabourne Encore,Tel Aviv, Israel, 2016.
UW Health at the American Center Madison, WI, 2015. Acuity Insurance, Sheboygan, WI, 2015.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Registrar’s Office, 2015. Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, 2014.
The Langham, Chicago, 2013.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Discovery, 2013.
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois, 2013. Courtyard Marriott, Minneapolis, MN 2012.
College Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011.