Two new exhibits at the DePaul Art Museum allow visitors to think critically about connections.
The first of the two exhibits, titled “Nexo / Nexus: Latin American Connections in the Midwest” seeks to show artworks that depict Chicago and the Midwest as a hub of connections for Latin American artists.
“The exhibit tries to show important intersections between artists from Latin America, mostly Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, and those Latino artists of the same background who crossed their paths in Chicago, which resulted in a fruitful exchange of ideas and modes of working,” DePaul art professor and museum curator Bibiana Suarez said.
Suarez, and associate professor of Latin American art history Delia Cosentino, organized the collection as a tie-in to the upcoming Latino Art Now! Conference, which will be held in Chicago in April.
“Nexo / Nexus” includes a combination of works from the DePaul Art Museum’s collection, as well as a number of works from private collections across Chicago.
Though there is not one overall style to the collection, the pieces share a commonality through Latin American identity.
Suarez said a unique attribute of the exhibit is that it includes artwork from artists across several generations. But several are from the 1990s, which Suarez says is important for visitors to be aware of.
“Many of the pieces are from the 1990s, a time when the multicultural ideology which brought up questions about identity and inclusion strongly permeated the Chicago art community.”Suarez said. “The exhibit also pays homage to the contributions of Carlos Cortez and Jose Guerrero, two Chicano artists that had a strong influence.”
Also new to the DePaul Art Museum is the exhibit titled “Split Complementary,” a juxtaposition of works including a mix of sculpture, weavings, drawings and books.
The focus of “Split Complementary” is artists Dianna Frid and Richard Rezac. The exhibit works to combine their works together in ways that allow the two artists to comment on one another’s work.
For example, Frid’s “Evidence of the Material World,” created specially for this exhibit, is complemented by an untitled Rezac work hanging directly over it.
“It gets you to ask, ‘why is this here’ or ‘what relationship does this have?’ I think that was one of (curator) Matthew Girson’s goals, to get you to look at the world the way an artist sees the world,” DePaul Art Museum administrative assistant Kaylee Wyant said.
“Split Complementary” challenges visitors to draw connections and relationships between the different works on display. Beyond the works of Frid and Rezac, the collection is enhanced by a number of other pieces from the museum’s collection, as well as the special collections of DePaul’s John T. Richardson Library.
“The objects and books from the DePaul collections offer possible associations and links to known forms and objects,” said DePaul art professor and curator of the exhibit Matthew Girson.
“At the same time, the open-endedness of the works by Frid and Rezac invite us to question how well we actually know the forms, objects and books drawn from the collections,” Girson said.
The exhibit fills several rooms across the museum’s two stories. Each room includes works by both Frid and Rezac that bear some similarities to one another. On the second floor, stripes on a Dianna Frid embroidery are complemented by stripe effects on a hanging sculpture by Richard Rezac. But view the sculpture from a different angle, and it bears a diamond-like shape, pointing across the room where another Rezac piece is dotted with diamonds. Placement of the items is key to the collection and the experience.
Among Girson’s favorites in the collection are “Esta Mina,” a 2015 book by Dianna Frid featuring unique cutouts that expose different mineral rocks, and “Untitled” (12-09) by Rezac, a wood and aluminum sculpture that defies identification.
“For my money, the best art challenges us to think, feel and experience in surprising ways. The idiosyncrasy of the works in this show are all formally unique and their lilting, hovering references can be puzzling. This is a good thing,” Girson said.
Drawing connections between the works of art is the key to both exhibits. Whether it is understanding how Latino artists draw on the Midwest as an influence for their work, or how works complement one another in “Split Complementary,” both exhibits challenge museumgoers to think critically about what they are seeing.
“I am confident that viewers to the exhibition will appreciate the craft and the form of the objects,”Girson said. “I hope they are also inspired to question how different types of objects can help us appreciate the things we encounter outside the exhibition.”
“Dianna Frid & Richard Rezac: Split Complementary”
“Nexo / Nexus: Latin American Connections in the Midwest”
Jan. 28 – April 24