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“Silent Light”: Joan Winter at Dubhe Carreño

by Robin Dluzen

The artist and visitors at "Silent Light"

For me, it is a bit odd to hear that a single body of work could be equally influenced by architecture and organic forms simultaneously. However, this is precisely what Joan Winter’s sculptures and prints effortlessly achieve in the exhibition of her work at Dubhe Carreño Gallery, Silent Light. The emphatically aesthetic exhibition fits in perfectly with the gallery’s established tastes of softness and oddity.

Silent Light is a combination of cast objects and two dimensional print works that Winter created concurrently, and this process is evident in the repetition of patterns, textures and colors, shared by the two arenas of her practice. The looped or folded forms dominate

One of Winter's cast resin sculptures

the imagery, and illustrate the relationship between the sculptures and prints; the sculptures of banded forms are an embodiment of the layers of line-drawing-like forms of the prints, which are a reproduction of the shadows cast by the very same resin sculptures. In theory, finished products of three-dimensional and two-dimensional practices seem like completely different animals, but in Winter’s case, a bond can be made between them; surface textures of the wood-grained cast resins are not a far cry from the surface manipulation that goes into the etching of an intaglio plate, or the carving of a relief block. Equal attention to surfaces and structures assist in binding these two parts of the artist’s practice.

The manipulation of and the capturing of light is essential in this body of work. According to the gallery release, the emphasis on “light and transparency as primary elements” comes from Winter’s interests in contemporary Japanese architecture, which is not too surprising considering the artist’s professional experience in the field of architectural space planning and design. Space is an evident concern in the three-dimensional works, but it is employed in a slightly different way in

Joan Winter speaks with a visitor

the prints as well; the layering of imagery and the variations in tones imply illusionistic space informed by an understanding of light and shadows. The artist’s presentation of wood, resin and paper create a cohesive spatial environment that’s open and still remains structural.

The mix of materials themselves even elaborate on the Japanese architectural theme, operating as both light and luminescent in palette and material clarity, as well as sound and functional in physical presence. Even the works on paper are framed,

Prints by Winter

composed and installed to seemingly mimic the architecture of the interior of the gallery, as is the case for the three columnar pieces of a triptych print that reference the beams of Dubhe Carreño’s ceilings directly overhead. And often the prints are on mulberry paper, prized for its durability and soft feathering, also acknowledging traditional Japanese printmaking methods.

It is easy to see how Winter’s practice evokes such harmony, as references, forms, imagery and connotations flow into one another, connecting what could be seemingly disparate components, making them stronger through their affiliations, and creating fluid but still cohesive meaning.

Silent Night will be on display March 12 – May 8, 2010 at Dubhe Carreño Gallery on the second floor of 118 N. Peoria, Chicago.