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Art Fri Dec 13 2013
A compelling exhibit of paintings, drawings and sculpture by 13 artists dramatizes the emotional impact of ancient rituals that kill or maim millions of women and children. The 38 works are being presented in the third floor gallery at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law until February 3.
The exhibit--The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions--is "not about gender, culture or religion bashing," says Cheryl Jefferson, executive producer of the exhibit. Rather "it's an exploration of human rights, a dialogue to raise consciousness as the first step toward preventing these horrifying acts." Richard Laurent is co-producer and four of his pieces are shown, including the poignant painting of a young girl shown at right, titled "Small Change."
The law school setting explains the exhibit goal: To build awareness by putting the grim topics of female genital mutilation, honor killings, and child marriage in front of future attorneys and influencers. The acts of killing and mutilation happen in the US, where they are considered crimes (like homicide and child endangerment), but in many countries, they are considered part of a cultural tradition. The message of the exhibit is to encourage change in the legal process in those countries so that the "criminal traditions" are treated as crimes.
The works range from brilliantly colorful, sensual female forms by Lorraine Sack to haunting slender figures in mixed media pieces by Nancy Rosen. Several ceramic stoneware and mixed media sculptures by Paula Kloczkowski Luberda add a three-dimensional element to the exhibit. One of her pieces, a dramatic female figure stretching as if calling for help, was carved from one piece of wood. Zoriah Miller's "Weapons Cache" presents an almost abstract geometry of lethal weapons.
The exhibit is curated by Charles Gniech, a professor at The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. Commenting on the exhibit, Gniech says, "I selected beautiful imagery that contains multiple levels of meaning. Most of the pieces were not created specifically for this show, yet they were chosen because the content alludes to the issues at hand. Each piece has its own voice but viewers will bring their own interpretations."
The exhibit includes works by: James Deeb (Evanston), Sheila Ganch (Chicago), Andrea Harris (Chicago), Paula Kloczkowski Luberda (Naperville), Richard Laurent (Chicago), Zoriah Miller (New York, Paris), Nancy Rosen (Chicago), Lorraine Sack (Indianapolis), Valerie Schiff (Chicago), Barbara Simcoe (Omaha) and Anne Smith Stephan (Wilmette).
The Art of Influence exhibit is well worth your time and a trip to the West Loop. It's open daily during building office hours until February 3, 2014, at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams St. The exhibit is on the third floor and admission is free. For more information, visit the exhibit's website or here.
Images, top to bottom: "Small Change" by Richard Laurent; "Another Sunday" and "Untitled" by Nancy Rosen; "Weapons Cache" by Zoriah Miller; and "Gesture" by Barbara Simcoe. All images courtesy of the producers.