Closing reception: January 2, 2021 , 12-4 PM
Conversation with the artists on this important Midwest ecological art exhibition.
We also will have the new Chicago Gallery News book on hand to give out for those eager to plan their Spring 2021 exhibition lists!
I surrender to the clay; it gives me form; presence. Bound to the earth we are, so unequivocally that recognition is here. Memories and secrets hide and are revealed in these tiny caverns, folds, and primordial plains of earth. Dust to dust, mud to mud we are.
Clay connects me to the earth, the smell, the feel, the tactility of the material. I surrender to it and give it presence; it gives me form. Following its own frequency, clay dictates its own order. Through the interplay of chance and surrender, mud becomes incarnate; becomes “human” and conspicuous as Adam in the Biblical creation myth. I do not separate the verdure or the terra firma from the “human” they are part and parcel the same.
These works, with their suggestions of flora, fauna, water eddies, bone, and aggregations of rock and soil are my reaction to the elemental residue of collective existence. It is the quintessential aboriginal process being affected and transmuted by the four primal elements, earth, water, air, and fire. At first, stability is established only through random contacts and mutable form, reminiscence. Change and chance are possible until fire the final solution renders it im-malleable and stone-like.
There are shadows and hiding places in the personification where inner-most memory and secrets hide. Recognition is here, revealed in these tiny caverns. Remembrance no longer reminiscent but manifest, set in stone; an alchemical aggregation of materials, of recollection and primordial beauty. Dust to dust ………………………. mud to mud; we are.
Curtis Anthony Bozif
Erosion, sedimentation, growth, and decay— processes that help shape what we call landscape— greatly inform my work. In these natural processes— of increase and decrease, of transformation by repeated addition and subtraction—I find an analogue to the act of painting itself and a metaphor for incomprehensibly vast time scales and ecologies.
“Impermanence rules the sandy marge: dunes form, move, sometimes linger, occasionally erode in great gales or hurricanes, make untenable anything but temporary human buildings, remind the wise of natural system force.”
— John Stilgoe, Orchard Professor of the History of Landscape at Harvard University
Though not a landscape painter in the traditional sense, erosion and sedimentation, growth and decay—geological and biological processes that help shape what we call landscape—greatly inform my work. In these natural processes—of increase and decrease, of transformation byrepeated addition and subtraction—I find an analogue to the act of painting itself and a metaphor for incomprehensibly vast time scales and ecologies.
The Dune series is informed by environments of the same name situated in and around the Great Lakes; prominent examples include Indiana Dunes National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A feature of these environments I’m particularly fascinated by are the foredune stretches of Marram Grass and Little Bluestem. As a painter, I’m drawn to the abstract qualities of these plants, especially in winter, when under cold, gray skies their waxy green turns a pale gold and copper. As they mature into dense rhizomatic clumps, they combine to create a rich mesmerizing texture, a thick intertwined mesh of growth and decomposition.
The deep roots of these pioneering grasses stabilize the dunes from erosion. In time, a thin, fragile soil forms, becoming the foundation for ecological succession, the process of change of an ecological community which, for dunes, culminates in old-growth hardwood forests.
This state of wilderness and flux is contrasted by the amount of plastic detritus that one increasingly finds accumulated along the beaches of the Great Lakes. It’s estimated these polymers will take tens of thousands of years to decompose. For me, these bits of plastic function as a metaphor for the contest between wilderness and the human world and signature of the anthropocene. By removing plastic waste from these places and embedding it into the surface of my paintings, I’m trying to do three things: disrupt a traditional mode of aestheticizing the natural world, i.e. landscape painting; interfere with the anthropocentric time scale upon which our species relates to the natural world, and challenge the definition of nature itself.
-Curtis Anthony Bozif