Pittsburgh artists Susanne Slavick had a show open Friday Jan 8th entitled R&R(...&R) in the Northern most of the Chicago Cultural Center's Michigan Avenue Galleries. Susan works with photographs she finds on the internet of war, desolation and/or destruction. After finding the images she wants to work with, Susanne often digitally manipulates them, but that is far from the beauty that is her artwork. Susan's poetic images come from her painting over these found photographs with Gauche. Her use of contradiction and the way she hints at the unknown is uncanny and attracted me immediately.
The piece that was getting a lot of attention while I was there was Remorse: White Curtains. This piece was based off a photo of a building in which Susan had painted thin white curtains billowing from its windows. The delicate way in which she painted the curtains, and the obvious lack of people, made the work eerie and have an overall feeling of desolation or desertion. These sorts of desolate feelings were not consistent throughout the show thankfully, part of the show also consisted of a series of desert landscapes in which Susanne painted this welling up of water from holes in the ground. These works read as hopeful, and the style in which she painted these, and most of her other pieces, were derived from Persian Masters.
Susanne's reconstruction of the destruction within photographs, digitally as well as physically, reminded me that we are not alone. These works, although sometimes screaming out for change, I see more as accepting of what can not be changed as well as an inner look to change oneself. Susanne has a deep rooted faith in humanity and spirituality, you see this as she exposes the unseen within the photographs she finds. A serious game of Tug-O-War is being played on, and literally through, the wreckage of a car bomb.
Photographs although sometimes seen as absolute facts are, like everything else, biased. Susanne Slavick, whose show will be at the Cultural Center through April 4th, has a wonderful grasp of that bias and sometimes exploits it while other times turning it on its head. All that being said, at the end of the day Susanne is making beautiful work. Is it political? Sure it is. Is it academic? Without a doubt, it is, but you wouldn't know that except for the outrageous title cards which are sure to remind you.