The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works exhibition features the solo work of artist Lilli Carre. Lilli Carre’s budding yet profiled career primarily involves comic books and illustrations. However, the debuting museum exhibition organized by Michelle Puetz consists of an interdisciplinary approach– including ceramic sculptures and abstract illustrations.
Upon climbing to the third floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s winding staircase, the viewer will find the walls modest space lined with a row of twelve pairs of abstract, minimal works on manila-toned eight and a half by eleven inch paper – drawn with gouache, ink and pencil mounted in simple light oak frames. They are hung at approximately six feet high. The works are neutral shades of aloe green and autumn oranges and are layers of manipulated basic geometric shapes. In each pair the partners possess similar components but express contrasting arrangements of forms.
To the right of the corner room presents a collection of palm-sized ceramic figures titled “Rock Collection.” About two dozen of the a-symmetrical ‘rocks’ have been arranged two-to-three inches apart atop a clear plexi-glass surface, whilst another two dozen ceramic rocks rests beneath the glass, vertically parallel to the cranial layer. The figures are each unique. They are pale shades of ivory and hollow-blue tones. Some display patterns of what appears to be pencil doodles silhouetting the individual curvature of each rock.
In the center of the gallery floor twelve pairs of ceramic figures are displayed upon six white column pedestals, approximately four feet to four and a half feet high. The figures exist within the horizon of size of a half a foot high to three inches. There are two apparent thematic shapes depicted – hill-esque lumps or ‘blobs’ and pairs of human hands. The pairs are not perfect twins: each is endowed with a unique shape, as if they have been altered in reaction towards the other. The museum light glistens off the well-glazed ceramic surfaces. The tables are organized by color – which includes muted greys, cool mahoganies, pallid ivories and subtle indigos with needle sharp, cutting white accents.
A pair of ceramic hands best optimizes the ceramic figures. The palms of the wan hands lie along the ridge of the pedestal, while the slender fingers melt and dangle over the edge. The tips of the fingers have slight, minuet accents of red polish. The hand on the right seems to have stretched over farther than that on the right. The ceramic hands are simple and surreal.
Although the figures are stagnant they appear to have been captured mid-movement. The forms of the ceramics give the illusion that they might shift or melt at any moment. I interpret this to be the meaning behind the exhibit – an exploration of the visual experience of optical change. The pairs of pieces – be it two-dimensional geometric patterns on paper or ceramic figures, offer the illusion of one having manifested into the second through time. Yet this connection of change and movement exists within the viewer’s eye. Therefore the animation is birthed within the conscious imagination of the audience, enveloped between two static shapes.
The exhibit delves into the absent narrative space between two juxtaposed objects expressing different yet similar attributes. The ethereal and angular works asks the viewer to inquire on the suggestive animation endowed within each pair – inviting the audience to participate and create the space dividing the partners.
Although the exhibit is humble in size, it creates an intimacy with the delicate and charming figures. The pale and petit, yet not precious, ceramics take an interesting role on the dialogue on the role of ceramics and animation within the realm of fine art – stating a quiet yet determined voice that these works have an experience worth offering. Upon first glance the exhibit may seem dull or as sallow as its color palette – but once engaged with the conceptualization behind the show delivers a whimsical and stimulating exposure to ones awakened sense of imagination.