In Memoriam: Hyde Park Art Center faculty look inward and backward

Still image of Sara Holwerda's "Chairies" (courtesy of the artist)
Featuring a selection of work by its artist faculty, the Hyde Park Art Center’s (HPAC) new exhibition explores the “repetitive, compulsive and often deceptive nature of retrospection.” Titled “(Re)Collect,” it’s curated by interim Exhibitions Manager Francesca Wilmott. HPAC provides adult, pre-school and youth classes to the general community and across all skill levels; small wonder that the instructors’ works span a range of media, including unconventional ones like used coffee filters, organic onion skins and eggshells.

The exhibit attempts to provoke a relationship between the artist and the spectator through the familiarity of its subjects. “Windows,” by Chicago-based Mexican artist Monica Herrera, is effectively placed at the entrance of the exhibition, where it offers the opportunity for introspection to both artist and viewer, confronting both with a window made from discarded eyeglasses. One is forced to look inward through the magnified gaze of each small frame, subdividing the memory into parts. Photography instructor Aron Gent’s sincere and intense contribution includes a photograph simply named “Jenifer (pregnant).” Another strong piece is Allison Balcanoff’s “Underflow,” a site-specific installation made of used coffee filters sewn together and cascading down a corner of a wall like an avalanche. In its quotidian construction, “Underflow” suggests that memory is composed not only of grand events, but also of smaller things we do routinely and without contemplation.

Suzanne Sebold-Suso’s “Daily Discards” explores a similar theme through paper made from ground eggshells, cotton, and organic onion and garlic skins. Far from diverging from the main theme of memory and recollection, “Daily Discards” explores the trope of forgetting. By allowing some parts of our memory to fade, we are able to create a sense of time and continuity in our lives. Sarah Kaiser’s “Blown Fuse” is an oil painting of different scenes of everyday life, accompanied by banal phrases, like “Don’t lick your knife” and “They don’t like me, I want them to like me.” Linda Cohn’s “A conscious revelation” is a watercolor, pen, Indian ink, and collage on paper scroll. The piece is rolled out each day, unraveling the events of the past like a movie. The range and depth of “(Re)Collection” is impressive, and it is inspiring to view so many meditations on a single theme. In a way, every piece of art is a reflection of the artist’s past, but when the artists strive, as they do in (Re)Collection, to not only create but to remember, the artwork gains a certain cathartic aesthetic. To walk through this exhibit is to gain a private but extensively mediated, look into another person’s mind and memories.
Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through February 14. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. hydeparkart.org