Sep 12th 2019

“Looking at Things Directly” is an exhibition by the artists Elsa Muñoz (Chicago) and Justin Sorensen (Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Mount Vernon, Ohio) being held in the Carlson Tower Gallery and the Brandel Library of North Park University. On first pass the work of these two artists might seem significantly different: Muñoz is representational painter whose work has a singularly poetic character while Sorensen has an eclectic conceptual practice that involves various media in obliquely personal investigations. The combining of the work of these two artists (by gallery curator Tim Lowly) could be understood as a gesture to complicate the reception of both artists’ work and promote a conversation that draws the viewer into deeper consideration of how art comes into being, what it is and what it is doing.

The attached file is an installation in the Brandel Library at North Park University. If interested, the statement is:

These drawings were made in response to a prompt regarding Plato’s Cave. I was interested in the difference between perceived realities versus actual reality. This tension is embodied in the prisoners’ dilemma as they watch shadows pass on the wall of a cave. Of course, the shadow is not reality, but a projection. I began to wonder how this concept was captured in books.

Amazon has compiled a list of books entitled “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.” I was fascinated by the idea of a corporation establishing a list of canonical texts. The books range from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to “The Autobiography of Malcom X.” Going through the list, it quickly became apparent that no traditional religious text was selected and almost every book was eligible for Amazon Prime. I went through the list multiple times and realized only 97 books were included.

Each drawing is the exact size of a book from Amazon’s list. My wife and I visited different libraries in central Ohio. She would look up the call number of a book, I would find it, and trace the outline of the book onto a sheet of paper. Afterwards, I filled them in with graphite. The drawings are intended to obscure each individual book by turning them into “shadows” that have passed in front of Amazon’s light.

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