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O’Connor Art Gallery innovates at Dominican

The O’Conner Gallery exhibited its January show “Pushing Paper”. The gallery now showcases senior spring thesis exhibits. Credit: Samantha Sanchez

By: Samantha Sanchez, Managing Editor

One of the most interesting places on Dominican’s campus is also its best-kept secret. The O’Connor Art Gallery has hosted both solo and group shows from a variety of well-known Chicago artists, but it is hidden on the fourth floor of Lewis Hall, a floor that usually only art students and faculty ever visit. However, those who do bother to make the trip will be impressed with what they see.
The gallery has had an especially diverse year. The fall exhibits started with “Twos,” a show that Gallery Director Jessica Cochran considers her personal favorite.
Guest curators were asked to submit two works of art executed by different artists based on an unusual aesthetic or conceptual relationship between the works.
“Basically, it was a show of pairings, and I wanted to see if by curating a group of curators, I could get a really interesting and cohesive group show,” Cochran said. “It was a great opportunity to work with curators I admire, while getting some very high-end artwork into our gallery.”


The group show offered a range of different mediums including photography, sculpture, painting and audio pieces. Mark Booth’s solo show titled “nothing to do with wizards” followed “Twos” and had a very different feel. His work is inspired by association, categorization, perception, death and dreaming. The walls of the gallery were covered with hand-cut vinyl phrases and disjointed sentences. To the left of the gallery’s entrance, one of his pieces read:
“A glow from within a body. A spark and a further spark within.”
Booth’s show was followed by “Pushing Paper,” an exhibit Cochran curated with the intention of displaying art works that utilized common materials, such as paper, in exciting and innovative ways. “Pushing Paper” included installation pieces that used the unique architecture of the space as well as traditional 2-D pieces. The show was well-received by students and faculty.
“The most recent show, ‘Pushing Paper,’ was one of my favorites. It was a great combination of works by artists who employ paper in amazing and diverse ways,” said Jean Bevier, assistant professor of graphic design. “Jessica Cochran, our gallery director, did a wonderful job of putting together the exhibition. She’s a smart, savvy curator who continues to bring impressive shows to Dominican.”

 

These three shows, which all took place from September 2010 to January 2011, showcase the innovative and eclectic works that often fill the space.
While the shows are most likely to be seen by mostly art students as they pass through that floor, some professors make it a requirement that students attend artist talks and openings. Bevier places an emphasis on these shows because of how much they benefit a student’s education.

 

“The O’Connor Gallery features artists working in a variety oexhibitions offer students the chance to see contemporary work that crosses the disciplines of painting, drawing, design, photography and sculpture/installation. Another advantage of having a gallery on campus is that students can see how different works inhabit and alter the same space—a useful lesson in the visual arts.”
The gallery is a benefit to the students’ art education as well as the local community. While River Forest is a bit of a drive away from Chicago’s art district, Cochran has been successful in bringing prestigious artists to show their work in the space.
“Sometimes it’s not convincing the artist but convincing the art dealer or owner to let us borrow the work,” Cochran said. “I think in either case, they recognize the name Dominican University as being a very respected place. So it’s really the chance to show in a beautiful space in a great community that attracts them. It’s definitely not our budget or resources.”
The spring semester will conclude with two senior thesis shows; group one opened on the March 29 and group two opens on April 12. The Annual Juried Art Exhibition opened March 16 and was followed by two Senior Thesis shows on March 30 and April 3.

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