Daily Archives: May 6, 2015

Cosmosis Review- Hyde Park Art Center


Hyde Park Art Cener

May 3rd – August 23rd, 2015

The exhibition, Cosmosis at the Hyde Park Art Center presents work that explores the intersection of the cosmos and artistic production.  This is most successful in pieces by Erin Washington and Carrie Gundersdorf.  The first piece you encounter in the exhibition is Washington’s Shapes of an Expanding Universe; it is a small, intimate scaled canvas covered in thick layers of black acrylic paint. Washington’s piece speaks to labor and temporarily.  Delicate chalk marks resembling a combination of arrows and 0’s indicate language, knowledge, or some kind of communication.  The markings are tentative, built by layers of erasure and writing.  Her material choices and performative mark-making clearly communicate her intent to question permanence and transitions to ephemera.  As a viewer I asked myself several questions related to these ideas: over what period of time did the piece take to create?  How long would the chalk markings stay perceivable on the surface? And an unanswered question: What are these markings trying to communicate?  The markings could be based on some sort of mathematical symbolism, or perhaps positioning documentation of a cosmo related body like a planet or shuttle.  Whatever the actual answer, this question serves as a place for the viewer’s imagination to engage with the work.  The exhibition catalogue centers the work on the role of the cosmos and our understanding of the universe and our place therein.  Washington’s piece signifies the very human struggle to make sense of things and decipher communication whether human, technological, or other.  Another pleasurable aesthetic intersection is Carrie Gundersdorf’s False color image of density waves in Saturn’s A ring.  With marks of color and handwriting scribbled around the edges, Gundersdorf’s displays a coloring outside the box attitude.  Science and astronomy, often attended to with mathematical precision are let loose to play in her colorful depiction of density waves.  The viewer is kept close by the micro markings, while at the same time pushed backward to take a macro view of the bending lines and the composition as a whole. What worked well in both Washington’s and Gundersdorf’s work is the way they make the viewer feel small compared to the questions posed and subject matter presented- a position that fits well with ideas around the cosmos.


Veronica Sines interviews Thomas Huston

Thomas Huston is a first year MFA candidate in the SAIC Print Media Department.

Untitled, 2015 Digital prints, pine, dimensions variable

Untitled, 2015
Digital prints, pine, dimensions variable

fort/da (detail), 2015 Mixed media, dimensions variable

fort/da (detail), 2015
Mixed media, dimensions variable

Six Suns, 2015 Thermodynamic paper, approx 8.5x10

Six Suns, 2015
Thermodynamic paper, approx 8.5×10″ each

Holy Face, 2015 Ink on vellum, 11x8.5

Holy Face, 2015
Ink on vellum, 11×8.5″

E-178 (Rev. 9-2003) Cat. No. 62249D, 2014  Digital print, 36x50

E-178 (Rev. 9-2003) Cat. No. 62249D, 2014
Digital print, 36×50″

The interview recording was lost before it could be transcribed due in part to flawed app design (and the interviewer’s negligence). The following are Thomas’s generously provided written responses to the guiding questions after the conversation had taken place.

This notion of ephemeral reality and the subsequent attempt to capture it parallels some of the themes discussed and acts as a metaphor for the duplications/repetitions/and re-interpretations found in Thomas’s work.

Can you describe your practice?

My practice is situated around contemporary image culture–the image saturated world in which we exist–where images are endlessly reproducible and malleable.  How does this nearly infinite access to images affect their “truth,” power, and meaning?  More and more I’ve been trying to complicate my own understanding of this “truth” value in images, working between many mediums to create situations in which images and objects begin to slip in their reference to each other.  These situations created in my studio then extend out into my experience in the world, where plastic bags drift through the city, getting caught in the branches of trees, creating a network of visual experiences that are distinct yet reference a larger, repeated trope.

How has your practice evolved since you began the mfa program in the fall?

When I came to SAIC I was making work that was conceived with a determined end result in mind.  Once I had created the system to generate the work, I could output it without having to make many subjective, personal decisions.  Since starting grad school I have challenged myself to make work that is intuitive and undetermined.  Working through, instead of towards, has allowed me to make decisions that surprise myself, create situations that I do not fully understand.

How does your knowledge of art history affect your approach to art making?

I have a BA in Art History, which as an artist I’ve found to be both a blessing and a curse.  I have a wealth of references and sources, but at the same time I think it can be easy to get caught up in “what’s been done.”  I try to be very careful about how I appropriate art historical content, using a light touch when I do so it doesn’t become a crutch to support the work.

Could you talk about your interest in patters/repetition/reproduction? 

I question whether repetition and patterns of reproduction increase meaning or diminish it.  When you repeat something enough times, does it become an empty sign?  I have been drawn to Praxiteles’ Aphrodite through this inquiry.  We know the sculpture through its many copies, none of which are exact, many of which are fragmentary, and all of which signify without a specific referent.  I am becoming more excited by chance repetition, an almost surrealist encounter of an image or object that unintentionally refers back to an unrelated experience, creating its own meaning.

Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?

Some artists I’ve been looking at and inspired by recently are Camille Henrot, Trisha Donnelly, Corin Hewitt, Francis Alÿs, and Alex Chitty (Printmedia Faculty), among many others.

What’s next??

This summer I’m excited to get a bit of distance from the critical academia of grad school and just spend a few months making and playing in my studio.  I also plan to start working on a project surrounding my hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which was home to one of the uranium enrichment plants that the US Government built as a part of the Manhattan Project during WWII.  I am especially interested in local folklore about a man named John Hendrix, “The Prophet of Oak Ridge,” who is said to have had visions foreseeing the development of “a huge factory…that will help win the greatest war there will ever be” some 30 years before the city and its nuclear facilities were developed.

Richard Hull at Western Exhibitions

Richard Hull #4 2014 crayon on paper 24 x 18 inches

Richard Hull
crayon on paper
24 x 18 inches

Western Exhibitions presents their third solo show with RICHARD HULL. The Chicago-based artist will exhibit a series of crayon-on-paper abstract portraits in Gallery 1 and in Gallery 2, a new oil-on-wax-on-canvas painting, two never-seen-before paintings started over ten years ago, and a huge unframed drawing. The show opens with a free public reception on Friday, May 8 from 5 to 8pm and will run through June 13. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm.