Opening in Skokie from 3 to 6 pm on Mother's Day: May 14
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Lilli Carré’s practice exists in a revolving conversation between mediums. With exhibitions combining hand-drawn and CGI experimental animation, ceramic sculpture, printed matter, stone mosaic, ink drawings, and weaving, Carré thrives in this orbit of forms that she places in dialogue with each other. Stone Figures Mud Drawing focuses on Carré’s ceramic and mosaic output, with a selection of work across 11 years of an ever-evolving practice. This exhibition is presented at Chicago contemporary art gallery Western Exhibitions’ second location, (northern) Western Exhibitions, in Skokie, IL. It opens with a free public reception on Sunday, May 14, from 3 to 6 pm, and runs through August 13, 2023.
Stone Figures Mud Drawing focuses on the area of Carré’s work created through very physical processes, from earthy materials found low to the ground, and her attraction to the immediacy of working with lumps of wet clay and the deliberateness of cutting and positioning stone. The resulting clay figures and stone mosaics refer to ancient elemental processes and histories, while branching into territory that also pulls from CGI creations and computer logic. The work considers how the human body inhabits, stews and performs in virtual and physical spaces, reflecting on representations of the feminine form, desire, agency, and personal narrative.
Carré’s sculptures and mosaics are materially disobedient. They explore formlessness and caricature as they translate cartoon logic from the virtual to the physical world. She explains that the clay “wants to cave in, to explode, to crack, to shrink, to harden before I’m ready. It has a mind of its own and an active say in its final form. I respond to the play and irreverence of working with mud, in contrast to the fine-tuned control and high level of repetition required in the other mediums I work in – animation, comics, weaving, and recently, stone mosaic. These forms are so ancient but also feel connected to hollow vessel bodies in CGI animation today, both referring to the body but from different directions of tactility. I see the clay form as an extension of the idea of the rebellious cartoon body.”
Carré began working with ceramics in 2012. This new direction allowed for a different kind of intuitive, physical process for her, as she worked within the material’s limitations and her own, embracing a lack of control inherent to the medium. Carré uses a variety of ceramic processes in her sculpture work, including slip and stone inlay, sgraffito, sandblasted etching, and repeated rubbings of terra sigillata on terracotta.
Mosaics are a more recent form for Carré. She started working with this labor-intensive process in 2020, during the lockdowns. The meditative method of creating pixelated imagery with the solidity of stone offered a literal sense of grounding, while researching the history of mosaics that survived various catastrophes over the course of human history. She hand-cut stone chunks into small squares and repositioned the composition many times throughout the process of laying the stones, using mosaic as a way to approach her drawing practice with new constraints, increased physicality, and rhythm.
Carré’s sculptures both imply and defy functionality, as their messages play with contradiction of their mediums. A stone curtain billowing in the wind; bodily vessels suggest mysterious ritual purpose; a metallic, veined, and frayed line climbs across the wall; a pile of severed ceramic tongues lies silenced on the floor; Flat slabs on the wall contain runic inlaid drawings, a visual language on the subject of privacy with marks pulled from Carré’s computer animations; Reimagined chess pieces stand as human-sized sculptures in the gallery on beveled pedestals. While a presence is felt in the relationships between works, there is room for viewers to explore narratives in the interstitial space between them.