A national group show addressing the theme of the dark times in our lives
Curated by Maria Dimanshtein
Artist reception Thursday, October 18, 6-9pm
Performance 6pm Artist panel 7pm
Gallery 214, Visual Arts Building, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
DEKALB, IL — Maria Dimanshtein and Gallery 214 at Northern Illinois University present What A Long Night It Has Been, an exhibition of artwork by 21 artists working in a variety of media. The artists who are based in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York address issues of broken relationships, loss, fear of death, suffering of the body and the meaning or meaninglessness of life.
Contrary to our wishes or intentions, sometimes we find ourselves in a place of turmoil. Overwhelming and prolonged presence of dark emotions can make us lose a sense of self, become disoriented, disconnected from the rest of the world. While we are within that experience it might be hard to imagine feeling differently. Therefore a time like this can be like a never-ending night.
We often hide negative and difficult feelings from the rest of the world. We may feel vulnerable, misunderstood, fearful of being judged by others. This exhibit acknowledges existence of pain and sadness as an inevitable and universal experiences. Its intention is to lift up a veil of silence and isolation by creating a context in which we can relate to each other.
An inability to share emotions with others, forces a retreat into the depths of one’s self. Mind’s Midnight, a scene set up by William Fillmore and photographed by Natasha Holmes, hints at a state of being when the convoluted journey of the mind rules one’s existence. Gwendolyn Zabicki’s Red Christmas Lights, an oil painting about dullness and loneliness, shows us a dark suburban street, depressing and abandoned, and the mandatory Christmas decorations fail to improve the situation. Joshua Johnson’s print of a floating gray, shape hints at a lingering shadow of what had once been, a feeling of emptiness. Bogumil Bronkowski’s take on loss is a bright, shiny oil painting of a flower reef, which serves as a reminder that a blind pursuit of material glory might lead to a loss of what’s truly valuable — one’s relationships. However, dysfunctional or impermanent, they may cause a sense of loneliness, abandonment and aggravation. Ashley Barreda’s lithograph The Hand That Feeds is informed by growing up in a family where drug abuse affected the relationships of all involved. Sara Willadsen’s installation titled Black Matter talks about a deteriorating relationship and anxiety over an unknown future. In another installation titled I Lost An Earring Last Night, Mary Hinzen hints at the frustration of persistently looking for a special connection and continually losing in that. In her performance piece Natalie Brulc deals with the death of a family member through a process that is meditative and incorporates an element of surprise.
When we reach a point where we can no longer bear the intensity of a feeling, we may switch into a self-protective mode of disengagement or look for distraction. In her video BFF’s Anne Yafi considers fleeing from a painful issue, in this case the devastation of the Syrian uprising, by turning to the fake safety of shiny sensationalism. Amelia Spinney’s screen-print called Love I uses bright colors and “fun” typography to take the edge off of a difficult question: whether to be open about one’s sexuality or keep it a secret and avoid painful confrontations. Through documentary-
Several artists take a philosophical approach and compel the viewer to be analytical by juxtaposing the grand and the mundane. Juan Fernandez’s Between Light And Dark invites us to ponder our own existence in the context of the universe: upon close inspection a black and white photograph of what appears to be a celestial body, turns out to be a close-up of a constructed paper element. Liz Nielsen also ventures into outer space — she places objects, such as a crystal or a horse onto the background of a starry sky, creating a surreal sensation of floating in the never-ending darkness. Jason Judd makes us face the inevitable though a clever video piece titled Drowning (or floating): a black screen is subtitled with an imaginary dialog between two people pondering the experience of dying. In her meticulously staged, beautifully shot Life Is What It Is — a color photograph of a stack of nameless books and a peony that’s about to fall out of its vase — Emily Franklin hints at the absurdity of life. Maria Dimanshtein’
Experiences of illness or the inability to escape entrapment in one’s own body or mind are addressed by several artists. In a quilt of multiple drawings and paintings called Rumors Jeremiah Johnson deals with an incurable illness that repetitively sends him into despair and periods of physical and mental paralysis. Anna Miller’s sculptures of distorted bodies convey the confines that physical maladies impose on our lives. Tessa Shackelford’
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Maria Dimanshtein, is an artist working with installation, mixed media and three-dimensional objects. She is inspired by the mysterious and the poetic as well as her emotional and mental states of being. Maria’s work has been recently exhibited at Evanston Art Center (Evanston, IL), Woman Made Gallery (Chicago, IL), Pajama Factory ( Williamsport, PA), Museum of Russian Art (Jersey City, NJ) and Homberg Arcilesi Fine Art (New York, NY).
mdimanshtein at niu.edu
847 942 9417