JUNE 1, 2009 THROUGH August 7, 2009
ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM CHICAGO GALLERY
A CLOSE LOOK AT FOUR ILLINOIS WOMEN ARTISTS
Ellen Roth Deutsch
The public is invited to a reception on June 12, 2009, from 5:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. in the second floor gallery at 100 W. Randolph. The artists will be present. After 6 P.M., please, enter the building by LaSalle Street.
Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm, exhibiting artist Kate Ingold will give a free poetry reading in the gallery. All are welcome.
Artists were chosen by four curators from the Illinois State Museum system: Jennifer Jaskowiak of the Lockport Gallery, who chose Kate Ingold, and from the Chicago Gallery, Judith Lloyd Klauba, Doug Stapleton, and Jane Stevens, who chose Riva Lehrer, Katie Kahn, and Ellen Roth Deutsch respectively.
Ellen Roth Deutsch shows selections from two bodies of work: Echoes of a Fragile Life and Heartbeat. The first refers to fragility on a personal level as well as political and environmental concerns. Fairy tales are a source. Much of the first group, her take on Han Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes, presents expressive, narrative-based, brightly colored drawings of a young girl/woman who dances with the dark side of life, represented by male figures in the form of Death, the Joker, or Fool. Using elements of the theatre as a stage for life, Deutsch conveys that life is fragile and that there is a fine line between this world and the next. Other tales include the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. In Heartbeat, the artist has created beadwork based on human organs, a project done in collaboration with her daughter, pathologist, Dr. Gail Deutsch, whose research focuses on organ development from embryonic cells.
Kate Ingold is a research-oriented artist and poet whose works reference philosophical and emotional questions. In The Dream of Water, a long-term image/text project that incorporates the Buddhist concept of mutual ascendancy, destruction and the interrelatedness of all matter, she addresses emotional reactions to issues of war, ecological destruction, commodification, acts of destruction and reparation. The artist combines contemporary digital photography with the ancient art of embroidery, sometimes stitching the paper, sometimes tearing and scratching it. Her digital silk photographs are embroidered with hand-spun thread which been humanely-harvested and dyed by a master-dyer. She pairs images with poems that reference diverse cultural practices.
Katie Kahn's paintings and works on paper create an illusionary stage where human dramas are enacted. Her work engages traditions of historical paintings with a love of saturated color and pattern, with a literary eye towards the news and events of the day. The figure is central in her work, grounding her thematic investigations in a direct relationship to the human body and day to day life. She employs curtains, puppets, stages, and other elements to suggest a grand theatre, directed by unseen forces that link the physical world of her subjects with the meta-narratives of war, violence, mortality, family, and compassion.
Riva Lehrer presents figurative works: large-scale graphite drawings, paintings, and smaller sketches. Born with bifida myelomeningocele, disability has, she says, "informed nearly every significant aspect" of her life and drew her to figuration as a tool to investigate "the interplay between structure of a body and contour of a life." These works, 2001 to 2009, feature new pieces, some never or rarely seen in Chicago, and others from If Body, Family, Circle Stories, and Totems and Familiars. Her humanistic portraits of disabled and able-bodied alike not only realistically describe the ‘outer' person but suggest interior lives. Her work is a reminder that humanity is "filled with an incredible beauty of human variation."