PHASES OF MATTER
October 11 - November 7, 2018
The elements of earth, air, fire, and water have informed the way we structure the natural world and our own spirituality since the ancient world. In Phases of Matter, Bernice Ficek-Swenson, Linda Gammell, Ann Ginsburgh Hofkin, and Holly Newton Swift explore this classical construct through photography, drawing, and book arts. The project began when Michelle Nordtorp-Madson, now Art Historian and Professor Emerita at the Univeristy of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota, curated a show based on the four elements featuring these four artists. After a second exhibition, the four decided to continue their collaboration - Phases of Matter, a reflection of the elements of nature and our relationship with it.
“We do not see reality – or nature- directly, but always through a window of some sort.” –Bill Holm, The Windows of Brimness
Ann Ginsburgh Hofkin uses photography to explore a sense of place and to understand the world. She did not originally come from an arts background – she studied philosophy, music, and mathematics at Mount Holyoke College and received her masters from Bryn Mawr. She was exposed to photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and fell in love with the medium. The result is an array of trancelike images using unique processes exploring the natural world, including infrared photography, capturing wavelengths of light the human eye can’t perceive; printed fabric, giving the photograph a dimensional quality and sense of movement; and layered prints on light boxes, windows into otherworldly but familiar landscapes.
“Even the smallest stone in a riverbed has the entire history of the universe inscribed upon it.” –Hikaru Okuizumi, The Stones Cry Out
Bernice Ficek Swenson has been creating elementally inspired photographs since 1995. She is based in Minneapolis, but her photos have been shown both nationally and internationally - from Chicago to Greece. She specializes in copperplate photogravures, a photomechanical process which involves etching to create a textured relief surface resulting in a unique and beautiful image. She also creates digital photographic installations on silk. Her photographs call to the symbolic meaning of the objects in the frame, referring to the geologic memories of stone, transformational force of fire, and spirituality of water.
“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” – Dante, The Divine Comedy
Linda Gammell’s intimate natural photographs and artist books have been exhibited nationally and she has taught photography for 25 years. She is also an artist dedicated to women in the arts as a founding member of the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM), and a co-collaborator of the Farmer’s Daughters Project exploring women and food, rurality, and agriculture. She photographs places that she loves - prairies, forests, rivers, wetlands, gardens, orchards -and that love is apparent in the closeness and detail of the photographs. Her multiple-photo installations give the viewer a sense of the environment by inviting them to examine the details of the landscape rather than an expansive view.
“The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with the people and dwellings of the world.” – Hojoki, An Account of a Ten Foot Square Hut
Holly Newton Swift is the only non-photographer in the exhibition. Instead, she is a painter and draftsman. She is native to Illinois and received her MFA from the Institute of Chicago, and has taught painting and drawing for 25 years. Her work is very inspired by Lake Superiors North Shore, a place she has come back to for over 20 years. Using paint, pastel, and charcoal, Swift works on site from observation. With larger pieces, she will do studies on site and complete the work in studio, imbuing the art with a reflective quality. Her dreamlike drawings are more representations of the experience of a place rather than a direct depiction.
Phases of Matter is on view in the first floor gallery of the Evanston Art Center until November 7th. Exhibitions are free and open to the public.