Manetti Shrem Museum Exhibitions Feature William T. Wiley, Mary Heilmann, Groundbreaking New Media Art

Winter Exhibition Begins in January

Film still depicting many people moving
Kota Ezawa, National Anthem (film still), 2018. © Kota Ezawa. Photo courtesy of the Kramlich Collection.

The unique life-as-art ethos of the 1960s embodied by the UC Davis art department is at the heart of two new exhibitions opening Jan. 8, 2022, at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, at the University of California, Davis. A third exhibition explores protest and resistance over 30 years of new media.

The Manetti Shrem Museum will host an in-person Winter Season Celebration on Jan. 30 at the museum to celebrate the opening of the new exhibitions. More details, including artists in attendance, will be announced later this fall.

“William T. Wiley and the Slant Step: All on the Line” presents an in-depth examination of the period of 1962 to 1969, while Wiley was teaching at UC Davis. Working with all available media, he developed a complex methodology and compound symbol language to explore philosophical, environmental and psychological questions. The results are startling, often beautiful and always engaging. “William T. Wiley and the Slant Step: All on the Line” gathers key works from this era, including The Slant Step, a peculiar wooden “step” covered in worn green linoleum purchased at a Marin County salvage shop. It epitomized Wiley’s outlook on art and jump-started conceptual art in Northern California. This exhibition gathers for the first time many of the versions of this iconic found object produced by Wiley and his former student, Bruce Nauman, while also debuting a new digital Slant Step work by Nauman. The exhibition was developed in close collaboration with the artist before his death in April 2021 and is based on five years of research by Manetti Shrem Curator at Large Dan Nadel. Jan. 8-May 2022.

Mary Heilmann, one of North America’s greatest living painters, also found her voice and artistic freedom at UC Davis. “Mary Heilmann: Squaring Davis” features her Northern California oeuvre of rarely seen ceramics from the mid-1960s, sculptures and her “Davis Square” paintings — an integral part of Heilmann’s breakthrough body of work of red, yellow and blue geometric abstractions. In 1966, while a graduate art student at UC Berkeley, Heilmann was struggling with her identity, her professors and her medium. She took an independent study at Davis to study with Professor William T. Wiley, and found kindred spirits in Wiley and Bruce Nauman. They inspired her to keep creating art despite her doubts. In 1977, Heilmann returned to UC Davis as a visiting artist for two quarters and created a group of works in tribute to the memory of her breakthrough. Curator: Dan Nadel. Jan. 8-May 2022.

Protest can take varied forms, from active demonstrations to addressing ongoing dialogues around racism, social inequity and the failures of democracy. With “From Moment to Movement: Picturing Protest in the Kramlich Collection,” the museum presents an ambitious, large-scale exhibition of six contemporary video and film installations. Drawn primarily from the world-renowned Kramlich Collection, the exhibition spans 30 years and brings together an international and intergenerational group of contemporary artists: Shiva Ahmadi, Dara Birnbaum, Kota Ezawa, Theaster Gates, Nalini Malani and Mikhael Subotzky. Each work examines a different event grounded in the real world, using specific moments from the United States, China, India and South Africa to explore protest from different angles: resistance; the role of media in our understanding of events; and the power and politics of viewing. Curator: Susie Kantor. Jan. 8-spring 2022.

Visitor information

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

254 Old Davis Road, Davis, CA, 95616


Thursday and Friday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: Closed

Admission is free for all.

Art Wide Open

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis, is a contemporary art museum and cultural resource dedicated to making art accessible and approachable to all. It builds on UC Davis’ legacy of exceptional teaching and practice of the arts to offer engaging experiences, exhibitions and educational programs that reflect and serve the community, now and for generations to come. The museum shares the university’s core values of innovative research, interdisciplinary experimentation and a commitment to educational programming: It’s a hub of creative practice for thinkers, makers and innovators. One-third of the museum’s 50,000-square-foot space is devoted to instruction, including a 125-seat lecture hall, classroom space and the drop-in Carol and Gerry Parker Art Studio. Opened in November 2016, the museum has earned LEEDv3-NC Platinum status, and has won numerous awards for its distinctive architecture.

Media Resources

Media Contacts:

  • Laura Compton, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, 530-304-9517,
  • Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472,

Publicity photos and captions available upon request.

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