On a Friday night at Blanc Gallery, a visitor unabashedly ran her palm along a series of seven panels. Her fingers first grazed scraps of black roofing paper, continuing to another panel of hot-pink vinyl stretched over studio debris, and ending their run on pieces of Bazooka bubble gum laid out like tiles. The cardinal rule of any art gallery–Do Not Touch–was suspended.
Connie Noyes’s exhibit “Pink | Space” invites the viewer’s touch. In fact her art thrives on interaction, for example with the artist herself. On November 18, dressed in a tiered tulle skirt and a webbed black top, Noyes mingled with visitors at the opening of her show. Her white wig bobbed as she went from person to person and piece to piece.
The genesis of the “Pink | Space” exhibition was a simple question. Noyes asked herself, “What is my space?” To come to an answer, she looked inside humanity for something we all share: the color pink. “It’s the internal color of muscles and organs unconcerned with external racial, class, gender or spiritual differences,” she says. “It is the color of humanity–the color of universal love.”
To express her own “pinkish physical self” for “Pink | Space,” Noyes uses what she describes as “trash from the floor.” One piece titled “If you can’t hide it, decorate it” consists of scattered, irregularly shaped bulges affixed to the wall. On the opposite wall, squished pieces of pink bubblegum hold together a cracked porcelain platter. White, black, and neutral shades are incorporated into the works, interacting with the pink by blending together and contrasting with the feature hue.
Another piece takes a more personal route, featuring a chopped-up bride doll. Recently divorced, Noyes came across a doll at a garage sale that resembled the frilly moppet she had as a child. The doll’s banged-up condition seems an apt symbol of vulnerability following the end of a marriage.
This exploration of material inspired Noyes to develop a second endeavor based on the human connection that pink represents. The phrase, “in the pink,” can mean both the pinnacle of a moment and being in prime condition, especially in terms of health. These simultaneous meanings created the starting point for a much larger project.
“At this very pinnacle moment,” she explained passionately, “we need to come together to do something better.” Noyes’s second pink-based project is “In the Pink: The 1,000,000 people art project,” centered on a website currently under development. The site aims to connect one million people around the globe, across many backgrounds and disciplines, to network and create dialogue about projects they are passionate about. The project is an extension of Noyes’s personality. She explains less than modestly, “I connect a lot of people together. It feels like I’m a resource.”
Noyes kicked off the first “In the Pink” dialogue two Saturdays ago at Blanc Gallery, titled “Symposium for Change.” A medical doctor, a steel manufacturer, and a composer were asked to share their passions. Noyes said the symposium went well, with “really interesting talks and thoughtful questions from the audience.” She hopes to put an edited recording of the discussion online.
The two projects go hand-in-hand, as Noyes engages in conversations of her own through her artwork while fostering a larger dialogue in her forum. Noyes encourages viewers to interpret her work through their own perspectives. “I’m putting myself out there, and through that vulnerability people can come towards me. It can be very powerful,” she says. Whether by encouraging visitors to touch her artwork or asking them to click and post on her website, Noyes’s talent of engaging the viewer in her art goes hand in hand with a willingness to expose her own life.
Blanc Gallery, 4445 S. King Dr. Hours by appointment only. (773)952-4394. blancchicago.com