‘Transformative Visions’ is a matter of perspective at College of Lake County
Nikki Renee Anderson's ceramic pieces depict the nuances of the feminine experience.
‘Nikki Renee Anderson and Joanna Mortreux: Transformative Visions’
at the Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art, College of Lake County, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake
Exhibit hours vary, runs through Sept. 23
(847) 543-2240, gallery.clcillinois.edu
“Nikki Renee Anderson and Joanna Mortreux: Transformative Visions,” a new exhibit of painting, sculpture and photography at the Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art at the College of Lake County, speaks of several transformations: the vision-expanding power of travel key among them.
The exhibit features works by Chicago-based Anderson and Australian artist Mortreux, who met in 2010 in Reykjavík, Iceland, while pursuing artists’ residencies there. They later became members of Operation France, a locally based project that focuses on international artist collaboration, founded by artist Michael Kozien, a College of Lake County Digital Media and Design assistant professor.
Both Anderson and Mortreux have participated in international artist residencies in France, Iceland, Germany, Italy and the United States. “Transformative Visions” exhibit curator Steven Jones sees their work as an interesting opportunity to highlight how a global perspective affects individuals’ impressions of the world.
“When you travel abroad, it changes your experience of things,” he said. “When you are immersed in a different culture, everything you see is slightly different.”
Both artists, he said, work with organic, biomorphic images that can relate to one another, despite their varying artistic styles and methods.
Anderson explores the nuances of the feminine experience through ceramic sculptures and photography. Mortreux paints images of exotic or extinct animals and mixes them up to create strange but somehow familiar creatures.
Mortreux’s technique involves brushing oil paint onto nonporous canvases, similar to what sign painters use, to achieve unusual effects, Jones said.
“She’s got these blobs of paint that she’s painting deeper into to bring out the human or animal forms she sees,” he said, akin to how some people look into clouds and see images in their abstract forms.
“This is not a new approach,” Jones said, “but she’s very deliberate in her use of it.”
Anderson, by contrast, uses ceramics, photography and a wide range of other materials to achieve her effects.
“Her work involves amorphous, sensual and feminine forms,” Jones said, beginning with ceramics and adding atypical materials, like acrylic. “They’re not traditional ceramics but more like artistic pieces that incorporate ceramics.”
Anderson, from her perspective, creates fantasy objects that explore cultural stereotypes about beauty, desire and femininity.
“My work comes from personal experience, but I try to create forms that are open enough that there’s some universal understanding,” she said. “I both participate in traditional roles and re-imagine them to create new roles. They are intended to draw a viewer to get closer to the forms and look as though they could be squeezed or licked.”
Anderson’s photographs featured in the exhibit include a series composed of her own biomorphic sculptures situated in Icelandic landscapes.
“The forms are alone and peaceful and become a stand-in for a figure or for myself,” she said.
Looking at her work paired with that of Mortreux, Anderson sees a compelling mesh of textures and organic forms.
“I look at how we both work with materials to create our own forms and shapes related to the body and nature,” Anderson said. “Our work together has an interesting dialog. Her [Mortreux’s] paintings are abstract, oil on metal, and the texture of some of her paintings relates to some of my more sculptural works, as well as to my photography.”
The exhibit is a departure from the Robert T. Wright gallery’s general focus on Illinois artists, Jones said, and will expand the perspective of its visitors.
“They will walk away with something they haven’t seen before. We do eight shows a year and try to present a variety of mediums, styles and approaches,” he stated.
Visitors to “Nikki Renee Anderson and Joanna Mortreux: Transformative Visions” can pick up a small catalog, at no charge, that further explores the artists and the ideas behind their work. The 25-image exhibit will be open through Sept. 23.