Ange Altenhofen is an interactive sculptor, illustrator, and wearable art maker currently based in rural Iowa. She earned her MFA degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the recipient of the Fred Forster Fellowship.

Ange's work has been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including galleries and museums in Florence, Italy; Chicago; New York; and Washington D.C. Notable exhibitions in the U.S. include the MCA Chicago, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Smart Museum, the Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, and the Hyde Park Art Center, which sponsored her "Project Molehill," a hand-sewn climbing wall installed at the Cook County Administration Building in the Chicago Loop. She was also selected for the Artlink@Sotheby's International Young Art series which featured her interactive sculptures at Sotheby's Auction Houses in Tel Aviv, Vienna, and Chicago.

While living in Chicago she worked as a freelance costume designer and distresser and co-founded the costume-based performance group DeCorps Costume Collective.

Since returning to Iowa in 2015 she has exhibited her work at the 2017 Iowa Women's Art Exhibition at the Iowa Capitol, the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames, and was most recently represented in the 2020 Rockford Midwestern Biennial. In 2019 Ange had the honor of being named an Iowa Artist Fellow.

The Iowa Artist Fellowship Program is made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature to the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Video by Bruce James Bales

Artist Statement

"Metaphorical function" is a term I use to describe my work, dovetailing sculptural form with the innate potential for usefulness and interaction that every three-dimensional object possesses. In this scenario, function follows form, recycling art into a prosaic, functional object that is activated through touch and let loose in the world.

I tend to think that inanimate objects have "souls," or at least earn something akin to a soul as they get used more and more frequently over time.

The "Braille Series" is an ongoing body of work that references metaphorical function and incorporates Braille as a surface texture, not only to deliver information through touch, but to suggest blemishes on the skin that invite a haptic experience not unlike apes have while grooming one another. I first began using Braille text in my work after I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition that could eventually lead to permanent blindness. At the time of diagnosis I panicked – how does a visual artist make art without sight? This question sent me searching for answers and eventually led to creative discoveries I may never have found otherwise – understanding and revelation through physical touch and interaction with the art object itself.

Ange Altenhofen, Hush (I remember how warm your skin used to be) from the Braille Series, 2020,
Salvaged vintage rabbit fur glove liners, poly-rayon blend fabric, glove clips, glass beads, and Braille text, 35x10x2.5 in., Collection of the artist
Ange Altenhofen, Hide from the Braille Series, 2019, Salvaged vintage sheepskin jacket, glass beads, pearls, and Braille text, 34x16x16 in., Collection of the artist