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Elmhurst Art Museum: “Alive in Winter”

Courtesy of Meghan Q. McCook and Elmhurst Art Museum

Chicago is a city of museums, but culture is not limited to the confines of the city. For those willing to venture forth in pursuit of art, the Elmhurst Art Museum is a gem that is well worth a visit. Not only is the museum itself a work of art, built around Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House, but it also presents an impressive array of work by contemporary artists.

Elmhurst Art Museum’s latest group of exhibitions is as strong in thematic nuance as it is in material diversity. Artists David Weinberg, Carolyn Ottmers, Stephen Eichhorn, Meghan Q. McCook, and Molly McCracken Kumar celebrate the natural world through the mediums of photography, sculpture, collage, painting, and glass, respectively.

The complexity and beauty of their work mirrors that of the natural forms they explore. Weinberg, a long-time presence in the Chicago art world, creates a narrative of a mysterious neighbor and his dilapidated greenhouse in the series Mr. Wild’s Garden. Using the fogged glass and plastic of the greenhouse as a filter, the photos are ethereal at times, haunting at others. The collages of relative newcomer Eichhorn overcome the inherent flatness of the photos they’re constructed from, with intricate floral arrangements seeming to burst forth from their black backgrounds. McCook goes one step further, filling her copper wire and blown-glass structures with delicate air plants, literately bringing nature into the museum.

The museum compliments this work with an impressive amount of programming. In showing so many living artists, many of whom are local to the area, it is able to bring the public face to face with the person behind the artwork they experience. Four of the five artists currently on display will each give a free artist talk, while Meghan Q. McCook will lead two glass fusing workshops at the museum’s education center. Cultural explorers rarely have the opportunity to connect so personally with artists like these, especially at larger institutions, which is why they should be so quick to take advantage of this show.

These exhibitions will be up through March, with detailed dates found here.