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I space gallery features stone sculptures

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Stone sculptures -- old and new -- are the focus of two exhibitions on view Sept. 8 through Oct. 7 at I space, the Chicago gallery of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Sheela-na-gig: Tracing the Walled Women" brings together the work of three artists who traveled throughout Ireland to study the grotesque-looking stone architectural figures that embellish the exteriors of Ireland's churches, castles, bridges and gates.

The Sheela icons, which date to the 11th and 12th centuries, have been described as female counterparts to the gargoyle and are believed to be derived from a medieval fascination with paganism. Some believe the icons to be female fertility figures; others claim they ward off evil spirits.

The I space exhibition includes photography, mixed media and installation work by the three scholar-artists: Sarah Krepp, a UIUC professor of painting; Veronica Nicholson, a freelance photographer and artist from Burren, County Clare, Ireland; and Jo Yarrington, professor and chair of the department of visual and performing arts at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Essays by Irish poet Nuala N’ Dhomhnaill and Lisa Wainright, an art historian at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, complete the show.

Also on view at I space through Oct. 7 is "Sculpture and Drawing," by Canadian contemporary artist Ted Rettig. The exhibition will feature two ovoid carved stones; an installation piece featuring a cubic stone and wooden boxes arranged in a circle; as well as four prints and a selection of drawings.

An opening reception for both exhibitions is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the gallery, 230 W. Superior St., Chicago. I space gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.