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In the Bleak Midwinter

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Isaac Resnikoff's Modern House

Seeking a stimulating distraction on a cold winter night? Look no further than Columbia College’s Glass Curtain Gallery. With the days slowly lengthening, but the solstice a fairly recent memory, curator Justin Witte presents “Midwinter,” an exhibition highlighting the work of artists grappling with the idea of darkness, from absence of light to the invisible or hidden. LA based sculptor, photographer and artist Isaac Resnikoff, one of many artists featured, added his input to Witte’s in a conversation with Our Town.

Our Town Why “Midwinter?”
Justin Witte I think we often avoid what is unknown or taboo. Midwinter is not focused on anything sinister or morally dark, [but] instead on the times between the events, experiences and seasons of our lives. Most compelling is the idea that what is kept in darkness can be a rich source for contemplation and creation.

OT What goes into curating a show?
JW I focus on finding a balance between an idea that’s relevant [but not] overly thematic. I prefer to loosely frame an idea [allow it to] evolve during my discussions and studio visits with the artists in the show.

OT How do you choose artists?
JW First I go to some of the artists I know and talk about the idea and ask for names of artists they think would fit. Then I set up studio visits [so] I can see the work in person and get a sense of the ideas behind the work.

OT Isaac, you work in several mediums. When inspiration strikes, do you know how you’ll express it?
Isaac Resnikoff I once read an interview with a writer who said that they liked to think of their ideas as airplanes, circling a landing strip. They all circle for a while, but eventually every one comes in to land, while the others are still circling. I like that, and I think it's a good way to approach working in different mediums without feeling locked in to any one.

OT Are there specific themes you revisit?
IR I guess I want my work to represent a sort of "potential space." The piece I'm showing in "Midwinter" is a print of the framing of a wall. I want the viewer to see the structures around them as built, and therefore transformable, things. These structures can be buildings or political systems, but the sense of agency should be the same.

OT Justin, what attracts you to an artist’s work?
JW I enjoy subtle work that resists a quick read. For example Craig Yu is a painter in the Midwinter show. At first glance his painting appear the product of spilled paint, but [then] you begin to notice Craig has added a large amount of detail with fine marks in the piece as well as developed rich contrasts between paint surfaces. The more time I spend with this work the more complex and rewarding it becomes.

OT Isaac, where are you most likely to find inspiration?
IR All over. Transportation is good, though. Just the other day I was taking the Hiawatha train to Milwaukee and I saw a beautiful windbreak (a line of trees planted along a property line to stop the wind). I think I'll do something with that.

OT How might you explain your work to a novice?
IR I don't think I'd talk about any differently. I want a person to respond to the fact of the thing, and their primary relationship to it. If you walk in to the gallery, your relationship to the artwork should be the starting point, on which the meaning of the work is based. I don't want this to depend on any expertise.

OT Justin, what can we expect from the exhibition?
JW I would hope that anyone coming to this show would not have any specific expectations but instead be open to experience. Here in Chicago we are always so eager for winter to be over. That means half the year [our] minds are set in the future. But winter offers something unique, it is a time when we withdraw more into ourselves and become more introspective. It’s quiet and often unbelievably beautiful. This show suggests we slow down and actually experience what winter has to offer, what darkness has to offer. In this way we are not trying to look past where we are, and we are not missing what we have.

"Midwinter" takes place January 27th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On a much more low brow note, today is your last chance to win tickets to see Bethenny Frankel. Just like Our Town's Facebook page and be entered to win. The winner will be posted on Our Town's Facebook page at noon January 27th.

A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Terez-Rosenblum published on January 26, 2011 2:48 PM.

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Hungry Princesses: An Interview with Peggy Orenstein is the next entry in this blog.

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