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.”

Radio Chipstone

Walking into Mrs. M-----'s Cabinet at the Milwaukee Art Museum is more like walking into a home than an traditional museum space. Located in the Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Wing, Mrs. M----'s Cabinet is an interactive exhibit which invites viewers to create a narrative through objects collected by Mrs. M----, a character who "exists somewhere between fact and fiction."

Chazen Museum of Art /

One of the purposes of a museum is to provide a place where people can see things they wouldn’t encounter in their daily lives. But how do museums let members of the public know what they have and convince them to take time to come see what’s on view?

Chazen Museum of Art

When you first walk into the Chazen Museum’s Japanese Masterworks Exhibit, the first thing that strikes you is the lighting. It’s decidedly, well, soft and flattering. And the reason it looks more like a boudoir than an art gallery is the same reason the prints only go on display once per decade. It's to protect the delicate inks of the woodblock prints. 

University of Wisconsin L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum /

For many of us, physics is something that we are required to take in high school. And for many of us, we are sure it’s something we’ll never use it in real life. Well, staff member Steve Narf of the UW Madison Leonard R. Ingersoll Physics Museum says while the formulas and equations may seem daunting, physics is something we all experience.

Mrakor / Fotolia

We are all familiar with the age old question "can money buy you happiness?" However, it is also important to look at our relationship with personal finances.

Christine Whelan is a clinical professor in the Department of Consumer Science at UW Madison and she says that while our grandmother’s advice about saving pennies still holds true, it’s also very important to think about how we spend money.

The Lakeside Press Printing Collective /

No to long before the days of MySpace, Facebook, twitter and whatever new form of social media created in the last 5 minutes, if you wanted to know what was going on in your neighborhood you one of your choices was to check out a local Kiosk. Usually covered in at least three feet worth of old band posters, pot luck flyers, and have you seen this dog/fish/chipmunk notices, the kiosk was a living source of community information. 


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?