LEXICON Post-its & Artist Statements

Below are your Post-it notes you wrote at LEXICON, an interactive art show curated by Jenny Lam, as well as all the artists’ original statements, which were not revealed during the exhibition’s entire run. Some of the statements were created specifically for this event and have never been seen before until now. (For more information about LEXICON, visit the official page. For behind-the-scenes looks, press coverage, updates, and more, visit the tag, as well as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and the Facebook event page.) To better read the Post-its, click on the images to enlarge them. For images of the pieces on their own, visit the artwork page.

Adrienne Glover
The Black Box Sessions
mixed media

“Currently my art is based upon meditations on privacy, disruption and the black box.

Merriam-Webster defines black box this way:

1.                  a usually complicated electronic device whose internal mechanism is usually hidden from or mysterious to the user; broadly :  anything that has mysterious or unknown internal functions or mechanisms
2.                  a crashworthy device in aircraft for recording cockpit conversations and flight data

The concept of the black box session(s) arrived during the course of discussions revolving around boxed wine, recollections of dalliances, and also contemplation of the phrase itself.

A black box is many things: an attempt to maintain order and records despite disruption. A disruptor of assumptions. A human mind. Dictionary definitions are only a starting point. They are not an arrival.”

Adrienne Powers
Because of My Ancestors
mixed media

“My spiritual journey was ignited based on my unfamiliarity with African Spiritualities. Eleven years ago, I was inspired to learn more and that desire for knowledge has inspired the work that I create today. The African belief systems that survived the Middle Passage and evolved with time, have been woven into my work through figurative expression and the interpretation of patterns, symbols, textures and colors. My intent is for the viewer is to consider the vibrant energy of the work as it strives to communicate the spiritual wealth of the African Diaspora.”

Agnieszka Ligendza
archival digital print

My images are created through an intuitive process, driven by an intimate familiarity with tools and medium. I digitally manipulate found, created, photographed and scanned specimens, often to the point that they no longer resemble their source. Sampled imagery is placed, transformed and blended. The stacked layers, through the process of masking and unmasking, intersect with each other’s remains to define light and shadow. The accumulated residues expose forms and textures, persistent artifacts of the process. Because of the methodology by which I create, I don’t immediately know sometimes what an image specifically means or says. I do know that these images are autobiographically driven, frequently imbued with imagery which evokes metamorphosis, oppression, perseverance, compassion, spirituality, feminism, resilience. Although these images are self-reflective, they are also permeated with universal themes. And just as the process by which they are created, these images are multi-layered in meaning.

Aisha Yousaf
pen and ink print

Love and Oil juxtaposes what some might deem as taboo, two female lovers sharing an embrace, with the actual issues at hand- corruption and war over oil.

Alba Margarita
Luna Menguante
acrylic on canvas

“In my artwork I strive to convey my inner reality and those thoughts I have trouble expressing with words, as well as to exorcise anger, resentments, anxieties and even celebrations about my experience of being born female. I am deeply inspired by female surrealists like Remedios Varo, Lenonora Carrington, Leonor Fini and others: I feel that womanhood is and always has been a deeply surreal experience, rife with uncertainty, danger, witchcraft, sensuality, love, intuition, and a sense of repressed Goddesshood. I paint primarily on black canvas, as I feel like I am drawing out all these ideas that yearn to be expressed out of the shadows.”

Courtesy of Aimy Tien.

Alix Anne Shaw
Moon Groin and TRYST / TRUST / TRISTE

“My work explores the interaction between technology and our most ephemeral moments of human experience. Dreaming, walking, markmaking—each of these small, often unconsidered, actions conveys an essential human impulse. I seek to transcribe these moments, to force a reconsideration of our current cultural context. As an artist living in urban Chicago, the question I am always asking is how we can continue to be human in the face of conditions that threaten to overwhelm and obliterate.

I am increasingly struck by the fact that human experience is ephemeral, our bodies are fallible, and the language we use to communicate is imperfect at best. My work insists on small acts of noticing and interpreting, on the primacy of physical actions. It argues for the necessity of interjecting the human into dehumanizing environments. Such artistic gestures are perhaps futile, but are nonetheless vitally important. I ask the viewer to question what we think we know about ourselves, others, and the way we exist in our collective environments. Co-opting, disrupting, destabilizing, opposing, holding forth, building small fires of meaning and protest in the cracks—this is what I want my work to achieve.”

Allen Vandever
Op Tower
acrylic and epoxy on canvas

I feel an artist’s body of work is his unwritten biography, archiving his progress in both craftsmanship and self-discovery, all the while capturing the most personal and essential moments in his life, and revealing his personal reflections.

In my painting, I feel free from the jumble of words all too limited in their ability to fully illustrate an image of my sensations and reflections. Painting is a way to bypass the filter of conscious analysis by passing the point where we attempt to name and catalog our responses, which often diminishes the true glory of the moment.

I am free to explore my dreams, very often so intensely alive that they continue to exist in my sight in the material world. I have yet to find the words capable of illustrating such glorious visions, so I paint them that I may relive them, and that I might apply a pinprick into the veil between our worlds allowing a speck of light to illuminate its existence to others. I aspire to reveal such worlds to my son, that the images from my journey inspire him to begin his own exploration, for a mere sliver of light is enough to bring the world gushing forth, demolishing the walls that confine our thoughts.

Although I fail to find the words to convey my passion, I cannot deny their role in my reflection, for words have allowed me to further explore the images I have been moved to create. For when I write, I am transported into the silent realm of the mind, where the voices of human reason and passion can be heard in intimate conversation, contemplating the infinite dimensions of being.

Amanda Mudrovich
Abraxas and A Red Breast Whir Host or How Stars Are Birthed
collage on paper

“My main motivation for creating art is the irresistible urge to peel back the layers and explore what’s below the surface.  More often than not, this means dissecting my own subconscious. Collage is one of my favorite media to work in and a great jumping off point for painting or mixed media work for me because there is a sense of relinquishing control over the finished product. I never begin a collage with a subject matter or set destination in mind, but instead choose and arrange the pieces that I am drawn to and allow it to be what it wants to be.  In this way, collage gives me a sense of excavating the subconscious and putting what is unseen or intangible into concrete form. 

Given my motivation and methods for creating artwork, it’s not surprising that I draw influences from Surrealism and such artists as Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, Leonor Fini and Dadaist Hannah Hoch as well as the literary movement of Magical Realism.

Initially showing my work to others felt as though I was placing myself in a very vulnerable position- exposing so much of my intrapersonal being. Then something beautiful happened- through viewer’s reactions it became apparent that much of what I’d taken for granted as solely my own internal experience was actually shared by others.  Though we all take different routes and modes of transportation, we are all travelers and it feels good to share the journey.

It is my hope that everyone viewing my art has the freedom to assign their own personal meaning or interpretation to it and feel connected to others through exploring the collective ‘self’.”

Andrew Ek
Blue Couch and Vacuuming
oil on canvas

“Andrew Ek is a self-taught painter living and working in Chicago. He is known for dark, sensual figurative paintings which could be described as Magic Realism.”

Angie Redmond
oil and acrylic on canvas; oil on canvas

“Angie Redmond uses her personal experiences to focus her artwork on various social issues within a culture. For example, the subject of natural African American hair is a reoccurring theme within her art. Having natural hair herself, she has faced a lot of ridicule and negative views towards her coils. Drawing from those experiences she creates paintings and drawings to celebrate natural hair for its unique distinctiveness and beauty. She also explore topics that affect her community; such as the violence throughout Chicago and our ability to make the situation better.

It’s the thick texture and vibrant colors of the oil paint and the love for the complexity of humanity that keeps the brush in her hand! She uses her personal narrative to honor her race and celebrate all of the human spirit.”

Annette Hur
Mundane Distilled
acrylic on canvas

“My work is narrative potential: an image that visualizes the disjunction between what we expect—or what we tend to remember-and the reality. Straddling an irreconcilable experience in human relationship and the act of recording it becomes my entry point. An ambiguous yet luminous space with a pleasant urban vibe followed by marks and forms as possible figuration leads the viewers into an immersive space-almost like a portal—asking your personal histories to fill in the gaps. My painting gestures focus on creating harmony to contribute a particular sensibility or atmosphere as whole and sometimes to break it: awkwardness in poise. A pictorial landscape is forged based not only on visuo-spatial memory in which mimicry of my physical multi-cultural reality happens in some ways, but defies it in others like cyber or virtual game space does. Mining the unconscious of visual and spatial illusion, immersive but quiet color field painting of abstract expressionism and some surrealism techniques merge together in my practice. Deliberate distortions, traces of figures, optical illusions, and color fields yield fresh imagery that opens up the meaning of what they are, where they are. My process often begins with staining canvas as a limited palette, followed by gestures that are reminiscent of Miro’s automatic drawing (or Twombly’s act of writing) and/or Tanguy’s relinquished traditional aspects of perspective, and suggested swelling ephemeral shapes. My work is not an abstraction of something specific in reality. It is a poetics of forms of what we say, describe, mourn, or cherish.”

Arturo Mazon
mixed media

“I have been drawing from what I can remember as far back as 5th grade. Attending the Art Institute of Chicago for summer classes as early as 15 years old, I was very fascinated with graffiti, but not wanting to limit myself, I began doing still life drawings. I began my studies at the American Academy of Art for 2 years after I graduated high school. Well, at the Academy of Art I really found myself at a loss in what I wanted to do. Times were very hard for me and I was not sure if I could continue attending the school. I fell out of drawing after leaving the Academy and was not really sure what I was going to do moving forward.

Time had passed and now I have this energy to draw everything I see in my head. My imagination is running wild with ideas, and now as a family man with the support of my wife, I’m finding the want to do art again. I do not have a career in art and drawing for me is not a hobby. It’s a lost love that I found again and want to share with my wife and family who have always supported me.”

Brianna Baurichter
Capacity #2
charcoal on paper

Procedural memory has a way of connecting the body to the unconscious mind. By thinking through the body, we are able to recall facets of the self buried by conscious logic, pride, fear, and mistrust. My practice commits to trusting the body and responding to its needs in order to realize the needs of the whole self. I employ the immediacy and malleability of charcoal, performance, and video to express, capture, and translate this alternative thought process. Combining this intuitive trajectory with an open, responsive mindset, my thought process while making is a heavily layered negotiation between myself, the work, and the environment. The results of this layering are hybrid creations such as drawings combining textures into hallucinatory imagery, sculptures acting as drawings and enterable structures, and performances intermingling drawing, improvisation, and choreography. My own diverse ethnicity has played a significant role in questioning normative categorizations to which hybridity does not conform. Through various composites of media and content, I explore hybridity as a potential source for discovery, expanded perception, and empathetic capacities.

Céline Browning
plastic, wood, and metal

“Using the vocabulary of surrealism and pop-art, I deconstruct, combine, and repurpose familiar functional objects, creating an uncanny visual language that reimagines what these objects signify.”

Christine Nicklos
Hang On, Let Go
driftwood, paint, natural found objects, and wire

“My art making is closely tied to my identity as an art therapist and definition of art therapy; the act of creating involves a process of communicating through images and words, which can help individuals, gain insight into their issues and add meaning to their lives, in turn providing an opportunity for transformation and healing.

My work is a perpetual diary based on my experiences and observations of the world. Nature is an important source of inspiration that helps me create this diary and I often use it as a metaphor to help me describe my experiences and emotions. It helps me explore the psychological aspects in my work more creatively. My work is not about re-creating exactly what I see. Instead, it is about reinterpreting nature to help me explore the human condition, relationships, and emotions.

Creating art is a very cathartic and therapeutic process, which has helped me reflect on life, overcome difficult times and gain perspective. A lot of my work addresses personal struggles—I incorporate aspects of nature to help me describe concepts like acceptance and transformation, which stem from these struggles. My work has also become a reflection of the critical issues I’ve explored both individually and with my clients. The healing process of creating fulfills me and was one of the key reasons I became an art therapist—to support and inspire others on their own journey towards healing and growth.

Cristy Corso
Broken Open Heart: United States
plexiglass, LED lighting, 3D printed plastic, and acrylic paint

“My Valentine’s Day-like heart shaped box, broken in half, represents the American pop-culture history of advertising & consumerism, specifically in the 1990s, & how we interacted with it. The first heart as a symbol, meaning ‘to love,’ hit mass populous as a logograph in NYC as part of an ‘I Love NY’ campaign to boost tourism in 1977. It was said the layout & heart graphic was inspired by pop-artist Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, which I would skateboard past, in the West Village also known as the ‘Heart of NYC.’ In 1994 at 16 years old I was accepted into the Parson’s School of Design’s intensive summer art study.

Where my last Plexiglas / metal installation of similar scale was tediously traced digitally, this heart structure I created entirely by hand. The previous 48 individual Plexiglas States that made up the Continental US, I later outsource to have laser cut. In this work I drew the heart with a pencil & no preliminary design on Plexiglas. By hand I fabricated this assemblage. This process helped me see how modern fine artists, still around by the 1940s, were creating a new genre called ‘applied arts.’ This was to ascetically design products & new graphic design techniques to stimulate a new market of goods & advertising after World War II in America. My solely-for-art purpose object was built out of a fabrication shop in Las Vegas in 115-degree desert heat. This put a new spin on the word ‘sweatshop.’  Where ‘sweatshop’ could be associated with production conditions overseas, my work was conceptualized, designed, crafted, & man-made by one woman with tools in America (excluding the 3D printed stars). The florescent yellow Chinese stars were martial art weapons. There were smaller Nintendo gaming stars used in Super Mario Brother’s 8-bit gaming world. I strategically installed these ‘stars,’ & smaller melted mirror Plexiglas hearts, to symbolize major US cities—like a map across the heart. The Chinese stars, being an historic object of weaponry designed in China, now ironically became produced in America.

For the hand painted mural I used 8-bit technology for the iconic ‘I Love NYC’ logo & had it read ‘I Love Tokyo’ in Japanese. The 8-bit style was inspired by videogames I played in the 1980s like the American-made Atari, from creator Nolen Bushnell, whom I met recently during a licensing convention discussing the topic of products from overseas & marketed in America. By the late 1980s the Atari would be almost entirely replaced by the Nintendo made in Japan. Paradoxically, the 2nd time the heart as a symbol was referred into pop-culture was by Nintendo videogames like Legend of Zelda & Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. The hearts represented ‘life’ & ‘health’ lines for characters to ‘live’ & even gain stars as points. Growing up my dad didn’t mind making me late for school to interactively play with not only mine but his newfound obsession. Following the American dream, we had to get the Nintendo before the neighbors did. It was considered the first ‘Family Computer’ in America where more than one player could interact within its gaming environment.

By High School some of us restless teenagers were concerned about new societal issues affecting our humanity American mass marketing & consumerism. We would blast out subculture views in ‘Zines’ & alternative music now hitting mainstream such as ‘Smells like Teen Spirit,’ topping radio charts. We were starting to catch on & rebelling against a generation who were tired of being sold to. The reverb from the 1980s excess of optimisms & prosperity was now a cup runneth over. By the mid-1990s many teenagers wanted to revolt & disenfranchise this pop-culture machine barreling at us through televisions & magazines. We felt we were walking along a yellow brick road our parents paved for us & stumbled upon the curtain revealing ‘the Man.’ We found that corporations were behind the propaganda that were selling tickets to an amusement park called ‘Oz,’ America’s new ‘reality’? We felt this era was ‘manipulating’ our parents who bought stock in this pop-culture franchise. This is where subcultures, making new neo-dada art movements, had a new political agenda where the enemy was the corporations selling more of everything & made everywhere. 

When I was attending Parson’s School in NYC I witnessed new graffiti street art popping up with curious new messages. They were in forms of stickers & stencils (which used when recently painting a car still driving the streets of Chicago) like a popular WWF wrestler’s faces named Andre The Giant with the words ‘Obey’. This canvassed streets nationwide by a new artist, 8 years older than me, named Sheppard Fairley who I also met & discussed this topic. This represented the brutality we felt needed to awaken the masses & rise against corporations holding our culture hostage.  Our lack of interest in family time that involved sitting in front of a television, that wouldn’t interact back at us like videogames even, was more of a “protest” on social issues we were facing. We refused to have this object brainwash us with its flashing images & influential people selling products. We might have even skipped a prescribed Prozac or Lithium pharmaceutical drug these companies were programming our parents to use to cure our teenage angst. As a result, we would hide in our ‘Heart Shaped Box’ rooms, another song by Nirvana, why possibly ditching class & run to any hideout that screamed edifying culture or subculture in downtown Chicago. We had neither mass information we couldn’t trust nor public figures selling it to believe in. We sought shelter from an unstoppable advertising monster telling us how our lives should be & what we needed to buy.  Growing up in the Midwest, an America consumer capital & near the third largest city, we were right in the forefront. The design of My American Broken Heart was much inspired by the lyrics & musical reference of Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box.’

The almost seductive swelling of the heart, which I might have only seen in a 1980’s Tom & Jerry cartoon or in comic books, seemed to be broken open & now hollowed out yet still dripping in excess.  The few smaller Plexiglas mirror hearts, that was perhaps once inside, were wrapped around the walls of the 1980s that remained. I do feel the influence of the LED lighting, making this red structure illuminate like an exit sign, originated from lighting work I engineered almost 20 years ago. Where LED’s were less commonly used, I had large quantities of astonishing Electroluminescence (EL) organic light concepts (that happened to be mass-produced in a warehouse by my house). This provided a blue ray
optical phenomenon big in the 1990s. 

As we approached the new millennium, at 19 years old I was working for IBM Global Services summer before returning to art school in NYC. Soon after I found myself working from home where the whole downstairs of a house my father, who worked as a custom homebuilder, gave me. It was a good size painting, clay, & found object, light & wood fabrication space with tools I could make big work on breaks or after work. The lighting sculptures were made while I project managed parts of what became the first web-hosting server farm globally in the Chicagoland area. We were the first pioneering a new thing called the Internet’s eBusiness. This gave new interactive channels allowing us to make our own decisions in the new market & able to log into anywhere at anytime. The several oversized hardwood crafted installations, using dovetail joints with blue lights radiating out of routed box wall units, were already being well received. By 20 years old they were exhibited in national exhibitions, and even in a prominent gallery, where several installs & found object wood sculptures were then acquired. I found a new freedom in the work I was making at the dawn of the new generation on the rise: the digital era. All of the work seemed to be a transmittal of what my eye would see: using & wearing analog text pagers beaming blue screens, being in front of laptops, & around flashing server lights on occasion into the new millennium. 

To add, My American Broken Heart as a vessel had also been looked at like a corporeal oral cavity with sharp teeth. I’ve used teeth over a ½ dozen times—from photos of angry bears & even aquatic sea creatures devouring weaker creators, several taking on the resemblance of the more traditional heart as a symbol geometrically. All & all, for the next level up of this work & game of art involving American consumerism, I would have integrated a lot more dollar signs.”

David del Bosque
La tridimensionalidad de la línea #45
chipboard, high-pressure laminated stratified aluminum, and PVC

… It is (line) the track made by the moving
point; that is, its product. It is created by
movement — specifically through the
destruction of the intense self-contained repose
of the point. Here, the leap out of the static into
the dynamic occurs.

Wassily Kandinsky
Point and Line to Plane
Ed. Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, 1947, p.57

The most recent of my artwork evolutes forward to a visual change, the substantial perception of my previous work. Since the colour and the line previously absent, involve all the background with a new and subjective personal language: I mix lines of different colours and length so that they go out form walls and ground, creating a visual effect of three-dimensionality not existing before.

I conceive the representation of the line as the part that can be seen and appears in the plane _ground or wall_ the rest of that line that we do not see, which hides even more and which looks for the way of going out.

Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair
Woodland I
gauche and watercolor on paper

Woodland was painted over the past year and expresses the process of working through a loss/celebrating a life. The works show nature beings, deer, flora, clouds, in a landscape which is represented in a dream-like way, with vivid, non-representational colors. The underlying idea with these pieces is to create an image that is not true to life, but that is familiar. It is to seem that in another space and time, such a scene may be possible. It allows one to re-imagine an experience.

Emily Calvo
How We Move Mountains
watercolor on paper

When I tell people I work in watercolor, they often comment, ‘How can you do that? It’s so difficult to control.’ I tell them, ‘I don’t.’

So much of life is about figuring out when to take control and when to let go—to allow the universe to shape the next moment. Ultimately, control yields accuracy and predictability, while letting go invites the unexpected, the fresh stroke, the surprise of blended colors. I gravitate to watercolors because each painting is a reflection of this exercise: the dance of intention and accident, the choice and the discovery. And while I dip the brush into one color, the paint pools and blends, the paper’s texture redefines the intensities, the shifting air and surface angle the paint in unpredictable directions. The resulting aesthetic is testimony to the unity of my vision with the elements that surround me—making painting an act of faith.

George Lindmark

My works provide a scene from a story of my own making. I am curious to see what other tales can be spun from my images. Is it true that one picture is worth a thousand words?”

Jamie Gold
Sugar, Melt, Thaw, and Petrichor
acrylic on canvas

Conceptually, I have always been fascinated by the unknown, oddities, and things that make us truly curious. I am inspired by surrealism, questions about our world, science and anatomy, and the beauty of all things. With light comes the dark, and a little humor and surprise in every situation. I start by studying real life objects, scenes, or portraits and adding in an unrealistic quality. The outcome often seems like a dream or an alternate universe, as if an object may or may not actually exist in our ‘true’ perceived reality.

Jenny Lam
Night Nurse, Scruffy-Looking Nerf Herder, AKA, and Force
graphite; graphite and pen; graphite

Gossamer series

“Since everyone keeps asking me to I guess I will include some of my doodles and some old sketches of mine from 8 years ago in my own show but I’m gonna hide them in a corner by the restrooms because yeah.”

Jessica Smit
oil on linen

“I paint portraits and allegorical figure paintings of people and objects in slightly surreal settings that tell a story.  I use symbolic imagery to tell these stories and capture a moment and the emotion that lies behind it. The human figure is at the center of my work, often physically portraying the emotions experienced within.

I am interested in what lies beneath the surface, the larger stories and deeper meanings of our everyday experience. By creating a glimpse into another world that has elements similar to our own, I hope to bring more beauty and meaning to our own experience.

I love exploring the rich color, texture, depth, and form of oil paint.  I experiment with the texture and brushstrokes of the paint, wanting the surface of the canvas to be visually expressive and interesting to look at. Some of the imagery is highly rendered while other areas are more textural and abstract. 

I am inspired by the dramatic figurative paintings of the Baroque artists and the mystery and poetic beauty of the Symbolist and Pre-Raphaelite artists of the late nineteenth century. My work includes figurative works, portraits, still life, and creative figurative compositions.

The visual narratives in my paintings are both personal and universal, and I hope that each viewer finds his or her own meaning and stories in the symbolic imagery.”

Courtesy of Judi Tussey.

Judi Tussey
Turkish Ship

“When I was little my mom gave paints and paper to my sister and me to give us a quiet project because my dad worked at night and slept in the daytime. At age five I drew pictures to send to relatives to share what I thought was pretty or interesting. So when people ask why I paint so realistically, I say, because I want to share something beautiful exactly as I see it.

Over the years I’ve been fascinated with painting animals, the Lake Michigan shoreline, and beautiful scenery, usually using acrylics as my medium.”

Julia Mellen
Nice Ridges

“Julia Mellen, struggling to make sense of the natural and her own identity as a multicultural, multilingual being, creates landscapes and characters at once familiar yet unearthly.”

Karen Hirsch
Pi R Squared in Blue
digital art and chromogenic print on canvas

“My imagery can be divided into two categories—reality and interpretation. Sometimes the two intermingle.

My work has been influenced by stellar photographers Jay Maisel and Ernst Haas, both with whom I studied, who taught me about the use of color. The legendary Arnold Newman, who was also my teacher, taught me how to use powerful forms in environmental portraiture. His experiments with collage and multi-media have profoundly impacted my work.

I have also been inspired by my mother, a painter who used bright colors in her abstractions, and by Jeremy Sutton, an authority in the process of ‘digital painting.’

The important lessons learned from those who have influenced me have contributed to my continuing interest in fundamental visual properties. My work, both photography and digital art, often features strong geometric forms, pronounced spatial relationships, and intense colors. I like to think of the effect of these qualities as something akin to musical rhythm.

I often montage and layer my images using computer software, sometimes combining digital painting with straight photographs. The digital techniques offer far more creative control and flexibility than ever before. The technology has also allowed me to experiment with printing on nontraditional materials such as metal and glass.

Perhaps, even more importantly, the new technology makes it possible to reveal to viewers a kind of inner reality that previously was much more difficult to translate into the language of film photography. It allows me to use the medium to express a true personal vision—one to which I hope viewers will bring their own experiences and emotions.

Katsy Johnson
archival pigment print with encaustic, oil, and resin

“Good times don’t always last...

The impetuous from this series, Exit from Joyland, is likely my ongoing astonishment over Kiddieland’s demise. Six years later and I still can’t believe that the cultural star of Melrose Park was torn down and replaced by a Costco.

Though I’ve always felt compelled to photograph environs undone by the caprices of fate, such as abandoned schools, churches, and rural farms over the years, the loss of family friendly venues like Kiddieland has left me particularly introspective.

These lost scenarios inspired me to seek out more places like abandoned playgrounds, drive-in theaters and amusement parks. On the surface, they can be fun to photograph as they are full of vivid colors and nostalgic backdrops. There is a bit of melancholy underneath the settings, though, as modern living renders these once joyful escapes obsolete and the playgrounds of our pasts devolve into proverbial parking lots.

I find the photographs I take simply document, but when I layer encaustic wax and paint over them, it adds to the narrative and helps to bind the viewer to the scene in an almost visceral sense.”

Kelli Anthony
Just Do It

“In my artwork I try to capture the moment of exaggeration a human being experiences when they first consume or come in contact with something or someone they want. This idea covers the moment and only the first moment of complete happiness, anger or disappointment etc. My theory is as humans, when our emotions are heightened our mind produces an exaggeration of what we are actually seeing or consuming. For instance iPhones are black, PlayStations are black but when we first consume them or open the box our brain produces color and this color is not color; it is actually the expectations and possibilities of what we now can do with this material thing.

So the colors and hyper reality in my artwork is me illustrating what we all experience for a split second or two when making a commitment to an emotion in regards to our reaction of a real world thing. Also, my work is produced and printed in 20x30 or 16:9 so you, the viewer, can read the image from left to right.”

Kristin Ingram
oil on canvas

“A lifelong pursuit of art, history, philosophy, and anthropology have influenced my artwork as I capture both the fleeting and the constant through use of 2D media and sculpture. Primarily focusing on the figure, I strive to create images that are at the same time vast and intimate, exploring ideas of space (2D vs. 3D) and time in a critical and psychological manner.

While the subject of my paintings is often figurative, the figures themselves act as representatives or totems of larger and more ambiguous concepts that are anthropomorphized and distilled into compelling and poignant narrative.

Laura Lein-Svencner
Healing Circle and In the Depth of Life
collage on canvas; collage on watercolor paper

My collage works are in a constant state of flux with each papermaking session. Exposed and revealing I find myself at the mercy of the raw torn papers edge.  Visual and physical entries grow from self-discovery, through twists and turns. New compositions stem from the need to fine what is all possible with each element. Fragmented stories begin to link their way to the surface allowing a natural flow of chaos to nestle itself softly in the middle.  The shapes, colors and imagery become my characters of these abstract tales. They have me walking in rhythm to patterns of opportunities pretending I’ve solved the mystery of connectedness.

Lisa Goesling
clay and India ink scratchboard

“Art critic Sawyer J. Lahr wrote, ‘The effect appears pencil drawn but has a living, breathing, sculpture-esque dimension emphasized by the black backgrounds, creating a positive and negative space rarely seen in life surrounding floras.’

I began taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at twelve years old, spending my weekends entrenched in painting, drawing and sculpting. As an adult, I spent years working as a Graphic Designer and Art Director, ran my own Design Firm, always consumed by the humble line and its relationship to the fundamentals of design. Creating art full time now, those fundamentals continue to be the driving force behind my art.

Magnifying glass in hand, I capture nuances that simply don’t exist with the naked eye. After studying my subject, I jump right in, spontaneously drawing fine lines with an X-ACTO knife into boards made of clay and India ink.

Spontaneous Combustion creates the illusion of 3 dimensions by layering line over line. I describe this abstract series as Lyrical Expressionism. My goal is elicit the same magical feelings for the viewer that I get while watching my intricate patterns emerge.”

Mairin Hartt
Repetitious Infinitum 1
India ink and graphite on Dur-a-lar

My work explores the uncomfortable, sublime space between existence and non-existence through the study, tracing, and appropriation of moments of entropy. By mimicking these processes, visually and conceptually, the images examine the manifestations and relationships between these forces. My practice of tracing and appropriating moments of entropy or deterioration is an extension of the futile desire to capture life or the sublime. I contrast colors, textures, and methods of representation to parallel this tension. Watercolor and ink are used intuitively, while pen and graphite provide detailed and controlled mark making. Mylar and glass enhances the fragile and ephemeral quality of the work. The resulting images depict unknown entities and abstract spaces.

My work is an innate contradiction, an attempt to contain the uncontainable. In short, it is an inevitable failure. The uncontainable can never be contained, represented, or deterred. The space between existence and non-existence is in constant flux. The attempt to represent the elusive, however futile, is in itself sublime.

Michael Coakes
Human Touch – Compassion
acrylic on canvas

Human Touch is my commentary on what I believe is missing at this point of the ‘digital age’. It would seem that we’re all more connected than ever via our digital devices, but instead, it seems to me, the truly human contact is being subverted by our digital ‘connections’.

The painting is large, representing the huge and fundamental issue I feel this has become. It is executed with coarse tactile strokes representing the unperfected and un-retouched surfaces of our pre-digital age before sincerity and authenticity were overshadowed by false ‘perfection’ and pretense.

Life’s truly valuable commodities are the bonds and true sharing, the hugs, the handshakes, the kisses and caresses that come voice to voice and flesh against flesh without judgment or complacency for one another. We need more real human contact!

I invite viewers to touch and feel the surface of this painting. Hopefully we can regain some sense of the human connection with each other through art.

Olivia Shih
Let’s Be Friends! and Value Building Blocks
fabric, stuffing, Velcro, and recording device; wood and Masonite

Olivia Shih’s artwork often investigates gender issues through wearable sculptures and use of alternative materials.

In her studio work, Olivia often uses restrictive metal armatures and sterile bathroom tiling as points of conceptual departure to examine the internalized habits of women. Her work physically manifests the damage of gender inequality, repeatedly imprinted on the subconscious of women. Humor and commodification also play essential roles in her work.

Peggy Shearn
acrylic on cradled board

When we communicate with each other about art, we use WORDS—but how do those words then define and delimit the art? Do those words become the art; does the art become those words? Can any work of (visual) art be called complete before it has been translated into language, expressed and interpreted verbally? Do words subvert or strengthen? Am I the only one who hates exhibit wall tags that tell you what the piece is ‘about,’ robbing you of the chance to play with the image in your own imagination?

Peyton Michelle Rack
Night Vision
oil on canvas

“I’ve always been in search of answers. I think that exploring new theoretical ideas in the realm of science and technology by the application of creative visual thinking can really help with our overall awareness of existence. But what happens when you apply mathematics to art? My answer to that is patterns.

I discovered a beauty and appreciation for the visuals that can be revealed under microscopes, through telescopes, and other forms of imaging. Equally, I see beauty in the technological and mechanical structures we build in order to study and try to understand these mysteries. Additionally, the action of exploring the way materials react with each other on a canvas and observing the intensity, dissonance, and harmony of color can help us to understand and experience, firsthand, the physicality of life.

With my work, I explore different ways of building images with patterns that I have created. Recently, I have been exploring color combinations which blur and vibrate together to achieve a glow effect – much like a technique that can be seen in the work of various Chicago imagists. A metaphysical idea that I have applied to this vibrational effect, is that the source of a vibration is perfectly still because it is balanced and at the center—and my visual representation of this is pure solid color.

I have a theory about patterns that I discovered through painting. The complexity or length of a pattern has a correlation to the hindrance of our understanding of it. In other words, how can we predict the ending to a pattern if we do not know where the end, or beginning, lies?”

Rachel Dennis
Life on Mercury
colored pencil

My art is deeply rooted in the study of parapsychology, cultural mythologies, alternative communication methods, various genres of occulture, the physical world, and metaphysical world. I weave my experiences together visually in order to create a new and personalized mythos to contribute to my culture.

Cultivating integrity in academic study and expanding awareness through travel nurtures my artistic process. I unabashedly follow my curiosity and let it lead the way towards new concepts and imagery. This helps me to better express my immediate and visceral experiences of day to day life with greater richness and complexity.

I also intuitively work with the influences of nature. I believe that ‘nature’ exists in all things, and it is my job as an artist to explore and display this inherent spirit. This allows me to explore and play with my own ‘nature’, and its connection to the world.

Rita Grendze
Lamella yellow
grosgrain ribbon, thread, and shelf

“Using abundant materials, I investigate the stuff of our lives. I actively look for truly mundane collections: books, sheet music, denim, neck-ties, even chairs. I don’t want things that are precious, but prefer to look at the things others discard. Over a period of months, sometimes years, I sort and categorize, recognizing the visual properties of the materials at hand, but also trying to get a better understanding of the material’s social significance. Doing so I have learned things about the collections that I didn’t know would ever interest me: percentage of red versus brown book bindings, history of a family-run textile mill, or even density of decorative marks on mid-century sheet music. My research is informal, but intense. Once I have satisfied this curiosity I begin my experimentations with physical properties: breaking points, saturation points, edges and even scents are manipulated until I have a tactile recognition of the objects. While not every experiment results in finished art work, I allow myself to wallow in the task at hand. I build my visual vocabulary in this way, a layered process that pulls from both the chance encounter, and from the directed study in my studio.

My current research: physical and conceptual strata. In Lamella, I am loosely referring to the gill-like membranes on the underside of mushroom caps-an ingenious natural engineering feat to help the fungi spread their spores (mine are made of ribbons and aren’t spreading anything). The materials used are not happenstance: silk ties imply a level of maturity and material wealth, while the ribbons remind me of girlhood, gifts and awards. I am working towards understanding this controlled experiment, towards a moment to reflect on natural beauty pulled from man-made materials.”

Russ Revock
The Habits of Simulacra
alkyd and oil on polymer panel

Occasionally challenging traditional notions of beauty, my images—with hints of existential despair, psychosexual conflict, and an avoidance of literal or rational narratives—typically aim to pose questions rather than present answers.

To some extent, most pieces begin as a portrait of sorts, albeit a metaphorical rather than literal one. An entire world—figure, environment, space, and atmosphere—is devised within the borders of the image, all for the purpose of creating a distinct psychological setting. Every aspect of the subject matter is indirect and suggestive. Ambiguous biomorphic and architectural elements appear in a symbolic or metaphorical way to suggest various fears, temptations, anxieties, and turmoil imbedded in the human psyche. Anatomical forms introduce a human presence without literal representation. Figures and elements sometimes appear solitary or isolated, implying alienation and disaffection, while at other times they interact in uneasy

My choice of media depends largely upon which aspects of the piece will be most critical in setting the psychological tone. When the physical character of the objects is essential, I paint the image in alkyd and oil, which allows subtle color transitions and the layering of glazes to reveal a subject’s texture and material structure. When the general mood calls for a grittier contrast and an emphasis on light and shadow, I work monochromatically in drawing or printmaking media, striving for a visual atmosphere akin to German Expressionist cinema or American film noir. I occasionally use digital processes to explore these same moods, using the computer as I would a pencil or brush to create, blend, alter, combine, and suggest forms.

My art is not self-referential (i.e. ‘painting about painting,’ ‘art about art’) and does not rely on arcane art theory for its conceptual strength. Nevertheless, I attempt to challenge the viewer by combining non-literal and symbolic imagery with universal human concerns in such a way as to ask rather than answer. A piece that merely provides answers is dead, stagnant, unchanging. A viewer has but to glance, then move on. A piece that asks questions, however, never stops changing and invites the viewer’s emotional involvement. The relatively small size of the works helps ensure that this involvement takes place within the viewer’s personal space, making each willing individual a participant in the psychological setting. Even if no ‘universal’ answer is obtained, the intellectual and emotional journey has been mutually beneficial for both the viewer and the artist. My ultimate intent is always to engage the viewer without oversimplifying, to challenge without alienating, and to seek common emotional ground.

Sandra Bridges
Grandma’s Hands
oil on linen

“Sandra Bridges is a fine art oil painter who has reemerged after retiring from the Chicago Public Schools after 35 years teaching Kindergarten children. With the same passion she brought to her classroom pupils is the diligence invested to create works of art proposed to inspire and educate the viewer. She brings all things simple into the complexities of human relationships and our shared experiences through representational depictions of characters often forgotten at best or overlooked. One is drawn into the circumstances presented and left to wonder, suppose, accept, or neglect, but the voice resounds nonetheless.”

Scott Fincher
Puzzle (Winter’s Meditation)

So what differentiates a portrait of a person from a picture of an object? Essentially nothing. A photographer’s purpose is revelation. In the street or in the corporate suite the imperative is to take surfaces into the interior so that the viewer comes to understand something about what has been presented. This could be an aspect of personality or the structure of a design.

In short, one can say no more than one can see.

Early in my career, I used to fantasize that I could be a Beethoven of photography. The idea contradicts the central principle of the medium. What distinguishes photography from the other arts is time. Unlike music, which takes a single idea and expands it, photography interrupts the continuum and digests it into an exquisite moment where understanding, composition and action intersect.

All this is expressed succinctly in poet e.e. cummings’s introduction to his volume ‘Is Five’: ‘I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement.’

In my eyes, photography also adheres to Francis Bacon’s maxim, ‘The contemplation of things as they are without error, without confusion, without substitution or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.’

That is why I love both nature and the street, and I quest for the image that sits on the cusp of the real and surreal. For the most part, I do not manipulate the images in the digital ‘darkroom’ any more than I would have were I using techniques of the old ‘wet’ darkrooms. Mostly, I adjust luminosity.

Shane Small
chalk pastel

“Shane Small took interest in drawing and painting as a child. He enjoys working in acrylic, oil paints, and mixed media. He is in the process of launching an online business whose mission is to inspire and encourage self-confidence. It strives to promote individuality with its artistic design.”

Sheila Arora
acrylic on canvas

“My work reflects my busy and active mind. I have a deep curiosity to look and explore. As I walk around the city, I absorb shapes, colors and spaces. I collect those little fragments of life and tuck them away. My paintings move with line and color, just as I move through this world. The lines are wandering, and the colors are bold. Like a risk-taker. It’s the excitement and joy of seeing everyday things one more time. It’s what I see, how I move, and how I think. I go for another walk. I see the world again. And then I let those fragments explode onto the canvas.”

Stuart Hall
Reformat the Conversation
acrylic and Styrofoam on corrugated paper

fleurs de guerre is an army of guerilla artists engaged in the War on War. By mixing metaphors of flowers and weaponry, it is the mission of fdg to provide a constant reminder that our world remains in conflict and at war, and to require the public to realize the costs of those wars and conflicts.

The preferred medium of fleurs de guerre is mixed media on up-cycled corporate litter. Bombs are fabricated from toilette paper tubes, and hand grenades are manufactured from beer bottles with a base medium of paper bags generated by the fast food industry.

5% of porceeds are donated to the veteran's organization of choice: Wounded Warrior, National Veteran's Art Museum, Iraq Veteran's Against the War, USO or Navy Relief.”

Su Yin Zhou
Revisitation I and II
oil on panel

“Using familiar color palette on unfamiliar surface and boundary. Something familiar and unfamiliar all the same.”

Zachary J. Williams
oil on canvas

My work is an exploration of the many absurdities of modern American political and social life, spanning religious and economic motivations underlying aggressive American nationalism, to the numbing epidemic of gun violence, to the hypnotic cacophony of the real and the imagined. The works I have submitted here illustrate a literal fragmentation of societies. With each painting, I confront and plead with my viewers’ emotional state, to provoke a dialogue surrounding the obstacles, illusions, and uncertainties of our environmental future.

Courtesy of Aimy Tien.

Courtesy of Aimy Tien.

Zoe Beaudry
Deathless Gods, Remember Me I and II and Smartmouth (American Rosary) ft. Ace Da Vinci
oil on canvas

My work is inspired by a fascination with the medium of painting and the implications of its content. I enjoy questioning the illusion inherent to the craft: the way two-dimensional art can act like a window into another world, and conversely, how painting can attempt to avoid illusion.

Stylistically, I am attracted to literal, visceral imagery. Clean lines and solid colors can evoke mood in an intuitive way. Stripped-down compositions attempt to isolate and illustrate ideas derived from history, literature, journalism, or theory. In this way, I enjoy making connections between current events and classical thought.

For every recognizable allegory in my paintings there echoes a private reference as well. My current work focuses on the symbolism of gesture, and how we use our hands as universal tools for expression—whether it be affection, violence, greeting, worship, or dismissal.

“Lost” notes: Post-its that fell during the exhibition’s first weekend and were gathered into one pile before they could be rescued by your devoted curator. (If you see yours and remember which piece it was about, email.)
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