Artists and Their Art: Revealing Works in Progress

When visiting galleries, wandering a museum or strolling through a fair, the art you encounter is complete. Most of us do not see the process a work of art goes through on the way to completion; we do not often see the artist at work, in the studio testing ideas and concepts or on site tending to an installation.

For our summer issue of CGN we asked a handful of artists to share what they are working on now as well as to describe their process so we might glimpse what really happens behind the curtain and see what is still a work in progress. –GV


Tony Fitzpatrick



Fitzpatrick is a prolific artist who is always sourcing bits and pieces of found materials for his drawing collages. He’s currently working on a series called The Garden Of All Other Ecstasies as well as making maquettes for a large scale local project that will be publicly announced in late spring.

“These works are about the Gardens of our Desire. What moves us, and keeps us up, and makes our hearts beat faster... There are thorns, dirt, bramble and burrs. There is conflict, sweat, and the smell of the earth.”


Jordan Martins



“I’ve been working through ideas relating to camouflage, signalling theory, and gestalt psychology, including the way plants and animals conceal or advertise themselves visually.

The work I’m preparing for Goldfinch for my show in September 2019 is, in a sense, beginning with the idea of a painting behaving like a plant or animal in this active way, rather than an inert object on display.

In part this is being worked through with the kinds of patterns built up within in each piece, but also in how individual pieces can relate to another in the space, to conceal or distort themselves or perhaps suggest a level of instinctual communication between them.”


Zack Wirsum



“These days in the studio I am preparing for a show in October at Jean Albano Gallery. My current body of work is mostly memory related in concept and content; a combination of observational painting from recollections and nostalgic re-explorations of subject matter that fascinated me as a child, now from the perspective of adulthood. The two small paintings [pictured here] are examples of the later working studies for a larger painting about a birthday party for a cryptid attended by monster movie and Disney characters, tentatively titled Feliz Cumpleanos El Chupacabra Expanded Guest List. I am playing with the composition of the party invitees and tweaking coloration. The larger painting, in the background with the masking tape blocking cues and partially obscured by the studies, is about the 1930s Boston Red Sox spring training in Hot Springs Arkansas. It depicts baseball players climbing the wooded Ouachita mountains in full uniform as part of their conditioning, which I learned from a historical plaque. The stylization of the ball players I concocted reminded me of samurais, so I utilized colors I imagine a samurai would chose to paint their house with. I am still working on the patterns and layout of the rock formations and boulders the athletes are scaling. The masking tape is helping to inform these decisions.”


Anna Kunz



Anna Kunz is working towards a collaboration with Emanuel Pratt and the team at the SWEETWATER foundation, which will include new suspended paintings and structures.

Parts of the collaboration will be on view in the Artists Garden and Theatre at the Taste of Chicago this summer.

Recent exhibitions include Inquiry into Abstraction, University of Cincinnati, curated by Mark Brosseau, and All is Well and Good at Circle Contemporary, curated by Eric Ruschman.


Diana working on a scale model – with helpful Legos – for a show at Carrie Secrist Gallery



“I use slow craft practices to make hybrid paintings and objects. My core values are: material making is meaningful, craft is a form of consciousness, and the decorative has work to do.

Materiality is a meaning that is distinctive. I make surfaces that are collaged, pieced, dyed, and stitched as a reconsideration of the field and form. My early works were constructed from discarded clothing, cut apart, flattened and pieced back together by hand in a way to expand the materiality of painting. I was influenced by Modernism and the Arts and Crafts Movement. In my practice, I admired the Pattern and Decoration movement and artists who used craft and collage methods to challenge categorization of art, craft and design.

As a Latina artist, I learned the value of material culture in real-time. My Cuban immigrant parents taught me hand-work, material re-use, and improvisational “making-do.” They understood the need to balance the decorative with the utilitarian to resist subjugation. My artwork comes to me intuitively, through my lived experience. 

I’m not trying to answer with logic, rather, I look to where my hands-on pursuit leads me.”


George Klauba



In October George Klauba will have a solo exhibition at Hofheimer Gallery of his new body of work. He will have 20 oil paintings and drawings on wood of tattoo–related imagery. As of this spring he had completed 10 paintings. The sketch pictured here is one idea in showing women and men tattooed. Klauba explains, “I usually use the head or face of the subject in animal form to blend a similarity of the person’s inner make-up or angst. It’s part of the belief that tattoos mirror the inner side of the person or soul.”