Trout Museum of Art
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November 18, 2021 – February 6, 2022
Mezzanine Gallery, 2nd Floor
Opening Reception | Nov 18, 5-8pm | Open to the Public!

Welcome to the Commonwealth of New Island.

It’s a place that just might exist in the form of paintings, maps, documents, artifacts, a website, and as an emerging community of real-life residents. New Island is an ongoing work of art by Lee Mothes intended to engage your imagination and provide a place of your own in which to wander.

Also experience virtual reality only at TMA: step into a New Island painting! Created by Tom Thiel. Watch how this VR experience was created below. 

New Island Stories

New Island is an imaginary island in the south Indian Ocean inhabited by a friendly, freethinking population. The nation, known as the Commonwealth of New Island, has a history and culture unique among island nations. These paintings show scenes where stories have taken place on the island. They also give the viewer an idea of the scale of the island. (It is 180 miles long and about 110 miles across.) The paintings, maps, and the island’s history have been compiled into a book called The New Island Relocation Guide.

For more stories and pictures of New Island, go to

About the Artist

Lee Mothes (Kaukauna) shares his seminal work, New Island, 30 years of creating an imaginary island with fully detailed maps, visitor’s guides, and paintings of the island’s picturesque scenery. He makes currency, knows the rainfall, collects sand from the local beaches, and sells property on the island. Lee also wrote a young adult novel set on New Island.

Lee grew up on the California coast and began drawing beaches, waves, and imaginary places while still in grade school. He later built a house two blocks from the ocean on the Oregon coast, and there he began creating paintings and drawings that began to say something about the ocean. New Island is an ongoing imaginary island-nation in the Indian Ocean that has inspired Lee since 1992.

Take a look at how virtual reality is created! You can step into a a New Island painting yourself at TMA through Feb 6. Video and virtual reality experience created by Tom Thiel.


Nov 18, 2021
Feb 6, 2022
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Trout Museum of Art
111 W. College Ave.
Appleton, WI 54911 United States
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