This article is part of Chicago Art Magazine’s “40 over 40” series.
After the mark-making mediums (painting and drawing), sculpture is probably the oldest of human visual art forms. Building, assembling, chiseling, and shaping, humans seem to be irrevocably drawn to the act of modeling something in space, making the idea into reality. For the final installment of the 40 over 40 series, we’ve chosen to focus on four artists using this age-old medium as their vehicle for individual personal expression.
Nicole Beck brings together science and art in her large-scale outdoor sculptures. Her sculptures are “mechanisms and contrivances that play with refractions in light, space and time. Her work centers around a holistic approach to art and physics, and is an exploration in perception, growth and interconnectedness.” She has created many solo and collaborative pieces throughout Chicago, working the local community to shape the piece. She has received numerous public commissions for her work, and has exhibited nationally in Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, and Iowa.
An essential aspect of each and every one of Jo Hormuth’s pieces is humor. Humor is the thread that created the web of Hormuth’s body of work. At times, it’s a visual pun, as with Chicago Window; at others it is flat-out weirdness, as with Last Night I Dreamed I Was a Butterfly. If there is a weft to the warp of humor, the weft would be color. Hormuth uses repeating color fields over and over, most directly in the Wink pieces, but manages to draw unique parallels between pieces, such as when Wink and Cabrini are seen next to each other. As John Phillips points out, “She transforms ‘the familiar’ to create situations that become springboards for the viewer to consider many relationships, contradictions and possibilities.” Hormuth earned her MFA from SAIC in 1983, and is represented by Gallery Kusseneers, in Antwerp, Belgium.
Michelle Stone’s sculptural installations investigate issues surrounding mortality and its part in the human condition. Her works, usually consisting of clusters of figures and skulls, flow across the space, giving a feeling almost of the Rapture, or alternately, Bruegel’s “Triumph of Death.” She describes her work as, “hybrid fragments-objects, heads, creatures, couples, shadows, installations, transforming space, climbing walls, laying on floors, hanging, merging, escaping, embracing, struggling under impasto, plastic surface skin, emerging as vulnerable figures…” Stone exhibits throughout Illinois, with recent show at the Anderson Art Center, Murphy Hill Gallery, and the Illinois State Museum, and she currently teaches with Art Encounter, a non-profit art and education organization.
Bill Zuehlke’s clean-cut sculptures make the ephemeral tangible. From flighty flocks of finches, to romantic Jack and the Beanstalk fantasies, Zuehlke’s delicate world invites the viewer to meditate, through pastel colors and organic shapes. Zuehlke is represented by Judith Racht Gallery in Harbert, Michigan.