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New exhibitions at U. of I. Chicago gallery focus on art by scholars, alumni

Melissa Mitchell, U. of I. News Bureau arts writer

Mary Antonakos, I space coordinator


four different shaped/color ring ring boxes, all opened and displayed on a black slightly raised surface
Click photo to enlarge
Bille Jean Theide
"Insincere (Secondhand Realities)," 2005, vintage ring boxes, 10k gold wedding band, silk-screened fabric, wood
3.25" x 12" x 4"

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Billie Jean Theide, chair of the metals program in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the common element connecting two new shows on view May 5 through June 3 at I space, the university’s Chicago gallery.

“Object Lessons” features art by Theide; Kent State University art professors Kathleen Brown and Stephen Litchfield; and Oklahoma State University art professor Chris Ramsay. Their work is presented along with objects from their personal collections, which range from seashells and rocks to Bakelite plastic items, vintage teapots and miniature chairs fashioned from tin cans. The intent of the exhibition is to demonstrate how the objects the artists collect can inform, influence or become part their art-making practices. The featured artists are interested foremost in the function, meaning and cultural implication of the objects they collect and create.

found object composition with image of a dove in flight carrying something in its beak as a focal point
Click photo to enlarge
Chris Ramsay
"Offering" (detail)
inner concealed poem, 1030'2 greeting card, found objects, wood, paint, copper

“Body: Internalized/Externalized,” curated by Theide, focuses on issues of sensuality, intimacy, sex, touch and thought, as represented through the work of U. of I. alumni artists Yevgeniya Kaganovich, Yeonmi Kang, Natalya Pinchuk and Gary Schott. Theide said Kaganovich creates “ambiguous objects that have a sense of being both for and of the body” and Kang “fabricates intimate wearable narratives of dream-like images. Pinchuk’s work, she said, “is attractive and repulsive and exposes the body through socially acceptable forms of adornment,” while Schott creates “sexually suggestive performances via kinetic motion.”

The exhibitions coincide with the annual meeting and conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, May 24-27 in Chicago.

An opening reception is scheduled to take place from 5-7 p.m. on May 5 at the gallery, 230 W. Superior St., Chicago. A second reception, planned in conjunction with the SNAG conference, is scheduled from 5-9 p.m. on May 26.

I space gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.