Gianofer Fields

Material Culturalist

Gianofer Fields is a freelance producer and reporter for NPR, BBC and Madison's WORT Community Radio. She says, “Once you seriously consider the objects you use to fill your emotional and functional needs, you will never see those things the same way ever again. From delightfully intriguing to dangerously obsessive, objects affect our daily lives. They creep into our subconscious. They say volumes about who we are or wish to be, without uttering a single word.”

Chazen Museum of Art

According to research done by the J. Paul Getty Museum, the average adult spends about thirty seconds looking at a work of art. For a story on the radio, thirty seconds is a very long time. But it’s a very short time when you are looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture, especially for the first time.

UW-Madison Department of Theater and Drama

When we think of Material Culture, the subject in question is an object, a physical entity. But what happens when it's a ideal, a system of beliefs and practices or an racism? How do we communicate beyond the objects? How do we get past the fear of a hoodie, for example, and get to the flesh and blood underneath?  Chuck Smith has a long and lauded history of bringing the African American experience to life on stage to diverse audiences.

Gianofer Fields / Radio Chipstone

Black Smith and Iron Artist  Aaron Howard uses his tools to create art from metal. Friends call him "Thor" and "The Viking" because of his substantial size, which he has used to his advantage to wield his hammer, his nearly 200 pound anvil, and his materials, which can be in the thousands of pounds.

In early December Howard found himself in the hospital – diagnosed with congestive heart failure. His recovery demands that he not lift anything over thirty pounds. He’s now in recovery contemplating his health and his future as an artist.

Eric Appleton / UW-Whitewater

If all the world’s a stage, someone has to set it. In Shakespeare’s day there may not have been much in the way of scenery – some banners and backdrops, and probably some hand props. But even now that set designers have more materials at their disposal, the goal of modern set design remains the same: to translate the text for present day audiences and make the play's words come to life.

Caitlyn Tompkins

Thanksgiving is approaching and if you haven't started shopping yet, you might want to get busy.

Mike Burns is the Visual Merchandiser for the Willy Street Co-op in Madison. It's a grocery cooperative owned by the people who shop in the store.

Burns says merchandising is one of the most studied fields in America. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, he tells contributor Gianofer Fields that no matter what you are trying to sell, there is only one goal in site.

Jeff Miller / UW-Madison Geology Museum

The University of Wisconsin Madison Geology Museum was established in 1848, the same year Wisconsin was granted statehood.

Museum curator Carrie Eaton explains that even though what lives in the museum predates us all, it still manages to tap into the bit of Indiana Jones in all of us:


Decades ago, Madison students pranked a city using a lot of styrofoam, a lake and the Statue of Liberty.

One of the masterminds behind the prank, Leon Varjian, died this week at his home in New Jersey.

Original Post from February 22, 2013:

Wisconsin Historical Society,

Of the many objects that call the Wisconsin State Capitol home, one of the oddest might be a 31 pound, six foot long, fully functioning folding knife.

Contributor Gianofer Fields speaks with Joe Kapler of the Wisconsin State Historical Society about what happened in 1860, what it has to do with a giant knife and why that knife remains at the State Capitol:

Ron Wiecki / Flickr

When a visual artist dies, his or her works usually find a home. Some of it may already be in museums or private collections, and others parceled out to friends and family. But what happens when the art in question is the artist’s physical environment – his or her house and land? How should we preserve it and its contents?

"It's About Time" /

It's no secret that we live in the age of digital images. If you have a smart phone, you can search for an apartment or find true-ish love - perhaps both all by looking at an image. While the technology is new, people have used the content of images to create narratives since the first cave paintings.

Michael Newman / Flickr

Most of us know the phrase, “as easy as taking candy from a baby.” It is also common knowledge that if you do take the candy away, the baby will likely cry. But is the child crying simply because it wants the candy or is the kid upset because he or she understands the concept of ownership and feels wronged when that candy is forcibly removed from its hand?

Lucy Loomis / Flickr

If you've been looking for a way to live a more sustainable lifestyle, a great place to start is giving up your well-manicured lawn for something less taxing on your time and the environment.

No place is better manicured and meticulously planned like the Allen Centennial Gardens located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Other than being a beautiful place to visit, the gardens serve as a teaching tool for UW students, the public, and green industry across the state.

Becker1999 / Flickr

Radio Chipstone series been exploring the connection we humans have with objects. But we really haven't considered our close relatives. The Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison is home to a population of Lemurs who seem to connect to objects in a way that's a bit familiar. The Lemurs were born in captivity and have never experienced living in their natural habitats.

Madison Hopps Museum

The Hops Museum in Madison just held its grand opening in May with its first exhibit on the Hess Family Cooperage and its contribution to Beer Making in Madison.

The exhibit is based on a book entitled Roll out the Barrels, written by Gary Hess, the grandson of the company’s founding father. The exhibition currently consists of photographs, acting as a storyboard for the interactive exhibit yet to come.

Richard Hurd / Flickr

Michael Gay is the Senior Vice President of Economic Development for MadRep, the Madison Region Economic Partnership. He is one of the people responsible for bringing new businesses to the city and the surrounding areas.

"What we do, we do well.... [Madison] is a small city...but it has all the attributes of a big city," say Gay.

In this installment of Radio Chipstone, contributor Gianofer Fields finds what makes the city of Madison so unique: