Dwellings: Reconsidering 'Home' at Rockford Art Museum


This fall when I made a weekend trip to Rockford to visit family, I made sure to stop, as always, into the Rockford Art Museum to see the latest exhibition, Dwellings, a group show featuring paintings, photography, sculptures and installations by artists Jacqueline Moses, Juan Fernandez, Joe Cassan, and Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg. 

The museum's humble exterior doesn't immediately signal the contemporary art housed within. RAM is located inside Riverfront Museum Park for the Arts & Sciences – a multipurpose space close to downtown Rockford – which also happens to house a fabulous children's center (handy when your kids are with you and you don't want them to knock over a sculpture).

Each artist in the show has created work that depicts a house or structure, using the concept as well as physical place of the base most of us take for granted as a means to address various issues about stability vs change, comfort vs disruption, a sense of place that contrasts with feelings of displacement. 'Home' is inextricably linked to issues both local and global, personal as well as political. 

Jacqueline Moses, Small Village, 2018

Jackie Moses's vibrant paintings in the show focus on homes that often have been left for good, perhaps due to uncontrollable global or political forces. Moses explains in her statement, "Recent world and personal events have strongly influenced the content in my work. Though the color still remains vibrant, turmoil, separation and flight have become central themes." 

Juan Fernandez, Concrete, 2011

Juan Fernandez's photographs focus on the deceptive banality of structures that some of us spend enough time in that they may be considered an extension of home. In order to distill his architectural images down to a visual purity that we can understand more clearly, Fernandez explains the process of 'cleansing' his photographs, "Each image is 'cleansed' of visual distractions. The compositions are created by only photographing in overcast skies or including small signs of reality, such as a piece of trash, dead leaves, cracks in the cement, or rust stains."

Joe Cassan

The mix of two and three dimensional work installed throughout the main upper floor of the museum allowed for a sort of wandering typical of exploring various spaces within a home. My children, who are just 3 and 5, were also very engaged with the work that depicted things at once familiar and odd to them, for instance an upside down, double sided house. The experience also raised, for me, a fresh awareness of what my own home means for me and for my family and how grateful I am to have a place to dwell and call home.

Shana McCaw & Brent Budsberg, Reaction, 2009


The exhibition runs through January 27; if you happen to be near Rockford this weekend, you can still catch this show before it ends. 

More info about the Rockford Art Museum is here.

Top Image: Jacqueline Moses