a literary review
Inspired by the last phrase of Camille Silverman’s statement, ‘nostalgia and cruelty’, these works explore the myths and ethos that morph into values of previous generations. The artists here pose the question – Was it the story that informed the values, or was it the values that held onto the story through generations?
north wall basement, plastic, acrylic paint, marker, cardboard, carpet padding, silver leaf, glues, cloth, tape, vinyl, paper, 86”x 112”x12”, 2022
north wall dartboard (front view), photocopies, plexiglass photo magnets, gum, nails, darts, 39”x 38” LXW, 2022
I am recording and reconstructing a room in my basement that is designed with western style framing, paneling and doors. My process thus far is to use stored materials and things that I am letting go of to construct the suspended soft sculpture walls, trim, fireplace with mantel, support posts and barn style doors. Though the room with its hand-gouged wood grain has always influenced and even in some cases become a dominant part of my paintings, drawings, and installation, I had never thought of recreating it until recently when my husband suggested we move to a condo closer to the city center. There is a lot of nostalgia in the retro wooden basement but also being from Colorado, the west was always a bit violent for me, rarely romantic. Like many other women who served as bartenders and waitresses in western themed restaurants and bars, dialogue and expectations to please the hyper-male culture was extremely stressful. Oftentimes I would get sick to my stomach before my shift would start. So that is what I think about in this basement of wood: spaces that are below what is normally presented, what we pack up and store, what we let go, nostalgia and cruelty.
Untitled #2, from Of the West, C-Print, 20×24,” 2001
Untitled #3, from Of the West, C-Print, 20×16,” 2002
These images are from a larger project exploring ways the American West has been imagined. I am interested in the gap between the geographical West and the mythological West and the means by which history has been displaced by mythology. The attached images are from a series called “Of the West” which aesthetically and thematically refer to the American West as constructed through the movie industry and features various archetypes seen in Westerns.
Klein Tortoise, acrylic, ink, and photo transfer on panel, 16” x 20, 2021
American Enceladus III, acrylic and photo transfer on panel, 12” x 16,” 2021
My paintings propose surreal and troubling parallels between our contemporary moment and narratives throughout history, mythology, and literature. By focusing on specific characters and themes from the past, such as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, the giant tortoises of the Galápagos Islands, and the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, my work presents a composite, pessimistic portrait of American identity: a population led astray by myths and fully complicit in the continuing American empire.
Camille Silverman received her MFA from Cranbrook Art Academy in 2006 and has been published in Studio Visit Magazine, Chicago Voyager and New American Painting. In recent years she has curated and participated as an artist in the international Terrain Biennial Outdoor Exhibitions, in 2021 she curated Proposals and Speculations which was part of Chicago Architecture Biennial and is currently part SeaChi Projects, an artmaking collaborative partnership between herself and Seattle artist Teresa Getty.
Now a full-time artist and independent curator, Camille lives and works in Chicago, IL., focusing on painting, mixed-media assemblage and large installations. Recent paintings and installation work has centered around place and its relationship to material.
Diane Meyer is an artist currently living in Los Angeles. Most recently she has been working on several series of hand embroidered photographs. She has an MFA from the University of California, San Diego and a BFA from New York University. Her work has been widely exhibited in the US and abroad.
Richard Medina is an artist, curator, and filmmaker based in Chicago, IL. He has exhibited at Heaven Gallery, Union Street Gallery, Robert T. Wright Gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, among others. In 2016 Richard was awarded the Jeffrey Ahn, Jr. Fellowship. He served as the Biennial Committee Co-Chair for the nonprofit organization Terrain Exhibitions, and directed the Terrain Biennial 2019. He holds a BFA with Distinction from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2021). www.richardmedina.com