Elements influencing art in exhibit

By The Columbia Chronicle

by Kaitlyn Mattson, Contributing Writer

Artists in the Chicago area are using images of earth, wind, fire and water to create an exhibit that looks like a periodic table.

Their efforts can be seen in “Element Flux,” an exhibit that features 53 Chicago area artists investigating the major elements found in nature. The exhibit is currently on view at the Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the heart of the Wicker Park art district.

The exhibit’s purpose is for each artist to interpret the elements in his or her own way, in styles that range from realistic to the more abstract.

“There are so many elements I love about [the exhibit],” said Chris Jackson, owner of the gallery. “First of all, the fact that we are able to get 53 different Chicago artists involved in an exhibit is just tremendous. Second, the layout and the whole design of the exhibit just came together so perfectly.”Now is the perfect time for this exhibit, Jackson said, given current global conditions and artistic sensibilities.

Kim Laurel and Fletcher Hayes, who participated in and curated the exhibit, said the idea for the exhibit came from thinking about the elements and the

periodic table.

They said it was also about having a format that could show a variety of experimental work by a large group of artists.

“My end of things was really about promoting the show and giving them wall space and an area to display the exhibit here at the gallery,” Jackson said.

Artists were given full range on the type of materials they could use but were limited to one uniform size—12 inches by 12 inches—Laurel said.

“Some artists were very representational in their approach, while others were very experimental and edgy,” Hayes said. “One piece, by Lee Tracy, is a mirror that has words etched into it.”

Artists need a challenge, and if a project like this comes along, they often rise to the occasion and try different techniques, Hayes said.

The Jackson Junge Gallery, which opened approximately two years ago, is one of the largest galleries in Chicago, Jackson said. The gallery focuses on contemporary art and is a venue for many Chicago-based artists to showcase their work, he said.

“We are very open and friendly; there is no admission, ever, to enter the gallery,” Jackson said. “We encourage people to come in and look. We offer reproductions of some of the original artwork that are very affordable, which is a big philosophy of ours.”

The collaborations between Laurel and Hayes have become part of their life as artists, the two say. As curators, they develop different programs and invite artists around the city to join. The two also collaborate on pieces as well as doing their own work.

“I think of all art as a continuing study,” Laurel said. “No matter [if] you are a student in school or are already a mature artist, it is always a study. These kinds of programs help develop community, as well as trying new ideas and formats.”

The “Element Flux” exhibit has been extended through Nov. 13. The Jackson Junge Gallery is open on Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.