Deconstructing the American Landscape: Sarah Krepp & Joel Ross at Rockford Art Museum

A trip out to the Rockford Art Museum is always an adventure.  The exhibition space, carved out of a former factory and now attached to a larger cultural center, is vast and well-suited to displaying larger scale works of contemporary art. 

The current exhibition, Deconstructing the American Landscape, with work by Sarah Krepp and Joel Ross, features Krepp's large scale, vivid multimedia paintings adjacent to a space displaying surprising sculptures and thought-provoking installations by Ross. 

The show's grounding inspiration, of course, is the American landscape. Both Krepp and Ross's artistic translations of interactions between society and the land invite viewers to reconsider the notion of landscape in art.

Krepp's signature colors of black, white, red and yellow are wielded in large works and on hyper-textured surfaces, sometimes containing hundreds of words and messages. Other works use everyday materials from the road, such as tires, taking seemingly used up things and rendering beautiful compositions. 

Ross's text-based sculptures first invite viewers to read, and then to consider the message in a landscape context. The objects, installations and photographs offer a break from just passing by and instead provide a means for looking anew at the every day (empty lots, alleys, roads, shopping centers). A tower of old suitcases asks, what do we really need to bring along, or leave behind? What's shut up inside? 

Sarah Krepp is Founding Director of DIALOGUE Chicago, and a professor emeritus and former chair of the painting program at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joel Ross is currently an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; he is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery. 

Deconstructing the American Landscape: Sarah Krepp & Joel Ross runs through January 29, 2017 at the Rockford Art Museum.


Images at top of page: Left: Sarah Krepp, Switchback I (#416), n.d., oil, acrylic on linen; Right: Sarah Krepp, Switchback II (#516), n.d., oil, acrylic on linen