VISUAL ARTISTS FIND INSPIRATION IN PUBLIC DATA
BLANC Gallery is pleased to present “Involuntary. Loss(y). Privacy,” a two-person exhibition featuring Chicago artists, STEPHEN FLEMISTER and JULIAN WILLIAMS, on display May 11 – July 21, 2012. An opening reception will be held Friday, May 11 from 6pm to 9pm at Blanc Gallery, 4455 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653. 773.952.4394
“Involuntary. Loss(y). Privacy” is a timely compilation of works that looks at the Internet’s evolving impact on our daily lives and the ways in which we are unintentionally identified/identifiable by data that is collected, captured and stored. Recent events in the national news media about racial profiling remind us of just how powerful a single fleeting image or profile can be in determining whether one is labeled menace or martyr. Stephen Flemister and Julian Williams are deeply invested in using portrait painting as a vehicle for exploring this duality.
The exhibition’s title centers on American society’s increasing willingness to give up the right to control personal information via the Internet and social media. In information technology, lossy compression is a term that refers to a data encoding procedure that minimizes the amount of data that is needed to make an image file legible. Each time a file is compressed, data is discarded and resolution is lost. For this exhibition however, lossy has taken on many different meanings for Flemister and Williams: Loss of self; a loss of innocence; the reduction of a person down to a vague likeness; an identity that is unrecognizable, minimized, and mistaken. Both artists start with digital imagery of unknown Black subjects as their source material but arrive at very different conceptual places.
Stephen Flemister's work combines printmaking, encaustic, collage and mixed media into his acrylic and oil painting process to build layered surfaces that are as complex as his subjects. He is interested in issues of surveillance, anonymity and the ubiquity of imagery available for public consumption. Stephen combs through public databases looking for images that seem familiar either through personal memory or imagined reality.
Julian Williams has created 15 portraits, the Englewood Boys Series, which colorfully re-imagine the missing details of grainy black and white Illinois Department of Corrections mug shots of young Black males. His choice of watercolor for the paintings highlights the stark contrast between the delicacy of the medium and the harshness of the subject matter. Julian’s approach calls into question the seeming objective quality of the photograph. The series has taken on a particularly personal tone as the impact of black male incarceration has directly effected members of his family. He used painting as a way to process his thoughts on the subject.
“Involuntary. Loss(y). Privacy,” is on display May 11 – July 21, 2012. Join the artists for a reception on Friday, May 11 from 6pm to 9pm at Blanc Gallery, 4455 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653. 773.952.4394. Light refreshments will be served. Additional programming will be held throughout the duration of the exhibit. For more information, call 312.907.9323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.blancchicago.com for updates. This event is free and open to the public. Street parking available free of charge.