Combing through time and space

As a writer and unflinching disciple of the truth that art will make your life better, I think a lot about contrasts. Binaries and opposites, polarities and spectrums. In both art and the culture that nourishes it, the animating force is always a unique ability to sustain the maximum amount of difference while avoiding catastrophic disintegration. It’s a fine needle to thread.

It’s precisely this kind of balancing act that figures so deeply in Maggie Crowley’s exquisitely subtle new show, “Comb,” at Devening Projects. A scavenger hunt through time and space, the Chicago-based artist surveys the broad ideological landscape of masculine and feminine labor, creating personal paintings and sculptures alive with juxtapositions of pliant silk and unyielding steel. Look closely and you will piece together the disparate artifacts of a life lived.

Look closely at Crowley’s silk paintings and you will piece together the disparate artifacts of a life lived.Courtesy Devening Projects

In the large-scale Crashing into the mountain, we uncover a stamp-sized depiction of Mickey Mouse, a ghostly, oversized chainsaw blade, and a hail of orange disposable earplugs.  Suspended from a rod of angle iron, the gouache-stained silk is creased across the center by a free-standing armature. This isn’t a formally seductive object in a traditional sense. It looks worn and broken in—maybe broken down—but its somber hues and fragmented imagery are beautiful in their honesty. Crowley is sifting through her past and inviting us to do the same.

“Comb”Through 3/7: Sat noon-5 PM and by appointment, Devening Projects, 3039 W. Carroll,

related stories

Roscoe Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic artwork

Bells, recorders, and watering cans craft a sound environment alongside more conventional instruments (trombone, saxophones, trumpet) on the title track of Roscoe Mitchell’s debut LP, Sound. The first record gathering together an iteration of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Sound, and especially “Sound,” was crafted, according to Mitchell, “[for] musicians to…

Otherworldly objects

Combining nocturnal hues with cinematic composition and a deft touch, LA-based artist Carrie Cook makes paintings that will change the way you see the glass in your hand. Her latest solo show, “Second Chakra” at Goldfinch, is a seven-piece celebration of everyday things, both in their superficial appearance and their symbolic significance. These aren’t flashy,…

Michelle Grabner does it again

A compact solo exhibition at MICKEY presents the remarkable range of Michelle Grabner’s three-decade career. A celebrated figure in local and national art scenes, Grabner has done it all. Adjacent to her dedicated studio practice, Grabner’s pioneering curatorial platform The Suburban—an experimental gallery established in Oak Park in 1999 with her husband Brad Killam—has championed…

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *