Nov 3rd 2021

Lay Of The Land

@ O'Connor Art Gallery

Dominican University, 7900 W. Division, River Forest, IL 60305

Opening Wednesday, November 3rd, from 4PM - 7PM

On view through Wednesday, December 8th

November 3 – December 8, 2021
Reception: Wednesday, November 3, 4 – 7pm
Gallery talk at 4:30pm

Participating Artists:
Jaclyn Mednicov
Judith Mullen
Soumya Netrabile
Nina Rizzo
Jon Seals
Alexander Richard Wilson

Curated by Karen Azarnia, Director, O’Connor Art Gallery

Dominican University
Fourth Floor, Lewis Hall
7900 Division St. River Forest, IL 60305

The natural world has long held our fascination. From the earliest cave paintings, to Caspar David Friedrich’s iconic Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, art history holds a long tradition of artists responding to the landscape.

Nature as subject maintains its relevance in contemporary culture. With the current climate crisis, and as society continues to navigate complex socio-political issues, our relationship to the land we inhabit has become increasingly called into question. In Lay of the Land, each artist locates their relationship to nature through varying degrees of nuanced inquiry, inquisitive looking, and emotive expression.

Artists Judith Mullen and Jaclyn Mednicov source materials inspired by nature in the production of their work. Sculptural works by Mullen incorporate yarn and plaster to mimic objects she finds on walks through the woods – such as tree bark – combined with other man-made materials including wire armature and glass beads. Her work speaks to ideas of the woods as a place of shelter, healing, and psychic and spiritual renewal.

Mednicov’s practice encompasses drawing, painting, ceramics, collage, sculpture and combinations thereof. Her recent skin paintings record fragments of natural objects from the environment, such as flowers and weeds, as a metaphor for freezing time. They also confront notions of loss, suggested through the process of their making.

In a similar vein, artist Jon Seal creates mixed media works and photography based on soil, water, and plant life. Specimens are sourced directly from bodies of water and land undergoing drastic environmental changes. Recently, he has collaborated with other artists and scientists to understand the alarming environmental shifts that are affecting the Kankakee River in Illinois.

Soumya Netrabile, Nina Rizzo, and Alexander Richard Wilson expand on the art historical genre of landscape painting, albeit their work speaks clearly to our present moment. Netrabile’s sumptuous paintings document her deep relationship with nature. Based on personal experience and memory, they exude vibrance and energy through rich hues and layered surfaces. Through her eyes we are but a small part of the natural world, her paintings serving as a vehicle for discovery.

Nina Rizzo’s intimate plein air watercolor sketches, rendered from direct observation, inform her larger oil compositions. Her paintings, with intense and exaggerated hues, explore the gap between perception and invention. Hovering between fact and fiction, it is worldmaking harnessed to evoke wonder and question our notion of reality.

Having recently moved to Denver, Colorado, Alexander Richard Wilson’s acrylic paintings on Yupo suggest lushness and fertility. As a queer African American artist, he finds kinship with the western landscape “both as a person of color, and also as an artifact of racial and social inequity.” With fluid, sensuous marks, tension is rendered between the beauty of the paintings and the social unrest in this country at the time of their making, rendering the creation of the works a radical act.

Image: Nina Rizzo, Sunset Drive, 2021, Oil on Canvas, 35” x 30” Photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

The mission of the O’Connor Art Gallery is to present the Dominican University academic community with timely, relevant and focused contemporary art exhibitions that foster critical and thoughtful dialogue across disciplines. Located in Lewis Hall, steps from many of the art department’s studios and classrooms, the gallery is particularly accessible to art students as a space for intimate engagement and reflection.

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 – 6, Saturday, 11 – 4
Free and open to all. Masks Required for all visitors on the DU campus and in the gallery.

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