A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the group exhibition “Front & Center” at Hyde Park Art Center. My friend Corinna Button is part of a group of Chicago artists participating in The Center Program at HPAC. The Center Program offer artists an opportunity to develop new work, receive feedback and work towards an exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center.
Corinna is well known for her paintings and works on paper. As a seasoned printmaker, Corinna knows the ins and outs of her work process from beginning to end. However, the residency opportunity at Hyde Park Art Center gave Corinna an opportunity to invest her time in something other than painting or print. Corinna set her eyes in clay and like a young child with a new toy, she embraced the medium and did not let go.
One knows we are looking at a mature and seasoned artist when she is able to translate a vision with unequivocal continuity of language through various mediums. For Corinna, who I am familiar with after curating her solo show at the Zhou B Art Center last year, the transition to three dimensional space seems to have come at the perfect timing. For her show at Zhou B, she had pushed herself to bring the idol series to a monumental scale. After our various conversations planning her show, she entered her studio and with incredible force, created four giant paintings that not only where beautiful paintings in the formal sense but captured everything the Idol series stood for. Even the heavily rich printmaking textures appeared to have been translated to a new scale.
Similarly, when observing her new ceramic works, one cannot separate them from the context of her other 2D works. The idols are there, the multi-faced women and the Venus-like closed eyes heads have all made their way into her new found passion. Showing along side her ceramic works, there is a large scale idol painting that serves to me as a point of departure. In her new works, we find new forms being created out of familiar experiences. The familiar in them, however, do not mean redundancy. Instead, Corinna’s ability to find new visual forms to expand her vocabulary is extraordinary. Like a playful child, she has opened the door to a new universe of possibilities which she is not shy to explore. Her ceramic works come in all sizes, from small tiny heads to tall elaborate standing pieces. They capture every aspect of what Corinna’s visual language has achieved in recent years and more. The figures act like silent iconic statues that twist, turn, brake, crack and transform at every point. They remind us of our own human sensitivities and quietly seem to crumble before our eyes. As the passing of cultural idols over time, these figures, exist in a seemingly continuos state of transformation. Their closed eyes relate to an idea of self introspection, mediation, reflection and memory.
Visiting Corinna’s studio space at Hyde Park Art Center provides a glimpse of her art making process. Her marking tools lay on the table and works ready to be fired are covered in plastic. A beautiful multi-head piece seems to stand out from a corner full of other finished works. This one however is horizontal as the faces turn from left to right respectively. It’s an incredibly beautiful work that links the multi-figured head paintings to the ceramic works. Asking Corinna about her work process in the studio, I learn that she likes to work in silence while thinking about life, her children back in the UK, and everything else that passes thorough her mind when the noise of life fades away. It is in such silent moments of the creative process that a visionary mind in the form of a humble and sometimes doubtful artist gives birth to such beautiful and inspiring works. It seems to me that with her new works, Corinna Button is rightly at her center.
Learn more about Front & Center: http://www.hydeparkart.org/exhibitions/front-center