Monday, June 24, 2013

Insightful Talk with a Socially Conscious Chicago Artist

On June 7th, a group of us had the pleasure of hearing Rahmaan Statik speak about his artistry and his current exhibition, "Coltan". The talk went on well past our scheduled time as the questions kept flowing while Statik passionately addressed his feelings on what it means to be an artist.

Statik's inspiration behind "Coltan" goes back to the Black Exploitation film, "Coffy", and Pam Grier's portrayal of the female vigilante. Statik is frustrated with media's frequent exploitation and objectification of the African American woman. As main characters within "Coltan", he presents these women from a liberating point of view, as they possess the strength and power frequently demonstrated by the female stars of Black Exploitation films. He understands that art is subjective and that some viewers may choose to view his portrayal of women as further objectification as they become painted representations of our need to acquire wealth, power and status. However, Statik is clear about his intention and leaves it up to the viewer to draw their own opinions.

Through this female character, Statik creates a consistency throughout the work that addresses global free trade, technology, consumerism and the tragic beauty of the modern African American cultural identity in relation to the mining of the black gold, Coltan*. His passionate drive to portray women in this way comes from the inspirational females in his life whom he respects: mother, sister, wife, aunts, artists. He feels it's important to capture their spirit through his work as opposed to their pure physicality.

In a world where "...there's constant inflation, work wages are low and conspiracies are now protocol...", says Statik, an exhibition such as this is relevant and necessary. "There's no conspiracy to greed as our means to an end is not just," says Statik. We continue to use cell phones as companies continue to market the next best one to get, when, in the end, the phones die and end up in a landfill. It is important to look at where they started and where they end up. Statik is calling us to address this issue and create awareness of the lives that are lost to put these devices into our hands.

Statik's drive to create what's in his well-known murals and in the galleries, is to have a message behind the work. His intention is to make the world a better place. He wants us to see the work and have the work speak for itself. Statik vows to not be predictable and for each new body of work to be better than the last.

When asked what's next, Statik said that the next edition of this body of work will be based on the plot of "Coltan"; this current exhibition is just the introduction.

"Coltan" is on exhibition through June 28th at Elephant Room in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. A closing reception will be held on the 28th from 7 to 10pm.

*Mined in the Eastern Congo, coltan is a vital component in cell phone electronic circuits and therefore is an essential yet overlooked part of our everyday lives. The brutality of the coltan trade has been documented through various media sources as the abuse of the people of the Congo continues.

-Kimberly L. Atwood
Director of Elephant Room, Inc.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Community Fun!

"Alter Egos" closing reception during Columbia's Manifest 2013!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Art Bid - April 26th - 28th

Artwork by Keelan McMorrow is available to the highest bidder during his "Breaking the Line" exhibition this weekend only! Bidding starts at 6pm on Friday evening and ends on 3pm on Sunday. Online bidders can email with their name, bid amount, email and phone number. The bidding minimum is $400 for the lot of 3 pieces by McMorrow. Should there be multiple bids of the same winning amount, the bids will be drawn in a lottery.

Winners will be contacted on Monday, April 29th to arrange the purchase and pick-up of their artwork.

"Breaking the Line"
R. Hanel Gallery
119 N Peoria #3A
(West Loop)
Open Hours: April 26th 6-10pm, April 27th 11-5pm, April 28th 11-3pm

Good Luck!

Artwork Info:
"Untitled (architecture)" - lot of 3
Keelan McMorrow
ink, acrylic & watercolor on pure cotton rag
7.5" x 9.5" (12" x 15.5" framed)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Elephant Room is excited to produce another off-site exhibition at R. Hanel Gallery located at 119 N Peoria St, #3A in the West Loop. “Breaking the Line” is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Keelan McMorrow that will be on exhibition through the weekend of April 26th. The exhibition starts with an opening reception on Friday, April 26th from 6 to 10pm. Additional viewing hours will be on Saturday, April 27th from 11am to 5pm and Sunday, April 28th from 11am to 3pm. An artist talk with McMorrow will occur on Saturday, April 27th at 2pm.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Urban Penumbra"

"Urban Penumbra" is a series of mixed media works by East Coast artist, Ray Ferrer that is currently on display at Elephant Room through Feb. 22nd. At the opening, guests inquired about the photography or the silk screen process of the work. The work is actually spray paint and acrylic on canvas which Ferrer has worked over his complicated and detailed stencils. The photography reference makes sense since the photorealism of Ferrer's subjects is indisputable. 

We mainly exhibit local Chicago artists here, but with all of the submissions we receive from around the world, I think it's important to exhibit a significant, emerging artist from elsewhere at least once a year in order to keep Chicago inspired and maintain a connection to the larger art world. Ferrer successfully brings that inspiration to us through this new series of work.

Ferrer discovered his talent for his artistic practice much later in life. He studied engineering and has worked as a consultant over the years. He's always had a passion for art and more specifically, photography. It seems that his interest in photography as a child has now come full circle. To his astonishment, a photograph he took of a woman looking into a storefront window is proudly on display in his parents home.

All of his work starts as a photograph, which he then digitally manipulates in order to capture the emotion he wants to portray. While looking at this final digital image, Ferrer cuts a stencil that will result in a painted image on canvas that reveals the emotion he intended to capture. Varying the distance of the spray paint can from the surface allows his work to ebb and flow the depth of vision. Surprisingly, Ferrer revealed to us that once he completes a piece, the stencil is torn up and thrown away so that the final work will never be reproduced. His time and effort with that work is forever held solely within that final canvas.

The use of solely black and white is a very intentional decision on Ferrer's part as he wants the subject alone to be interpreted without the distraction of colors. The raw emotion of the subject is revealed clearly through the expressive quality of the expressions and backgrounds in black, white and grey contrasts. 

Every piece is titled very simply with words like "Turmoil", "Youth", and "Optimism". It is obvious that Ferrer is trying to be as pure as possible in his practice and he is successfully able to communicate his intentions flawlessly. I am not always certain that perfection is the answer in artistic practice, however, if it is important to the artist, then it must be important to us. With Ferrer's work, I am astounded by the quality of work and his ability to convey exactly his intent. “I am vehemently opposed to using art as a means to rely on overly-complex theories or ideas to prop up mediocre images. I believe that the quality of the actual work is what is paramount.” - Ferrer. Ferrer's admission of his need for perfection in his work is endearing as he remains a modest and open individual. In his case, the quality of his work is paramount as each hand-cut stencil seems perfectly cut with a precision that reveals an extremely relatable time and place in all of our lives or the lives of those we love.

"Turmoil" by Ray Ferrer