The Passion Project

Opening: Friday, May 19, 2023 5:30 – 8 pm
Friday, May 5 – Jun 17, 2023 12 – 12 pm

1957 Sheridan Rd.
Highland Park, IL 60035

Featured artists: Bojitt (Bojana Ilic), Brandon Breaux, Jeremy Brown, Veronica Clements, Irene Mamiye, Yuko Nishikawa, Katrina Smolinsky, Elisa Valenti

The Passion Project: What drives an artist to create, prepare a canvas, step behind their easel, and make that decisive first stroke of paint, that first line of a poem? The Art Center Highland Park’s The Passion Project captures the spark of inspiration that spreads from artist to artwork and from artwork to audience—igniting a blaze of passion. 

The Passion Project features work from seven visual artists and one poet. BOJITT (Bojana Ilic) paints murals using wide strokes and spray paint to express her drive to inspire others through her connections. Brandon Breaux reflects on identity in his series of digital portraiture 28 Days of Greatness, celebrating everyday Black heroes. Veronica Clements harkens back to a Dutch tradition of painting, employing the style of vanitas as a critique of the expectations around gender biases. Katrina Smolinsky’s poetry explores the queering of Catholic religious tradition dissecting the meaning of passion itself and exploring the creative process. Jeremy Brown integrates inspirational text including LED lights onto his canvases. Irene Mamiye’s video projections and digital imagery redefine the materiality of photography and our saturation of images within the context of memory, nature, and longing.  Yuko Nishikawa’s whimsical mobiles and sculptures made of wire and paper pulp exude a sense of movement and lightness with magnetic energy. Elisa Valenti’s paintings are a sensuous celebration of radical acceptance of the feminine body, a bold commitment to self-love.  

The Passion Project reveals the foundation of the creative process, showing the way that artists dig deep to connect with audiences in the hopes of seeing their individual passions transcend into a universal context. Artists put their passions, their beliefs, and their hopes into their work, confirming a collective belief that what we feel matters. Moreover, the kinetic interaction from artist to art and then from art to viewers acts as a conduit, building and enriching our human relationships. Although each of these artists work in diverse mediums, they are unified by the way passion guides their processes. Their philosophical approaches to self-expression, defined by their personal identities and views of the world, translate into unique material that audiences connect to on a visceral level. Yes, all artists are passionate about their work, but what sets this group of artists apart is how their creative processes manifest what they know and feel in their guts. The result is artwork that emanates a palpable energy that audiences can enter into, share, and experience. 

Caren Helene Rudman, Curator