Evanston Art Center showcases work of local artist collective


Jennifer Hepp/The Daily Northwestern

“Dimethylamine” by Melody Saraniti is one of the paintings on display as part of Evanston Art Center’s exhibit “Dialogue Chicago: 12.” The exhibit was organized as a celebration of the fifteenth year of Dialogue Chicago, a supportive community for local artists to practice.

Jennifer Hepp, Reporter


Dialogue Chicago will celebrate 15 years as a community for local artists to practice and grow their crafts with an exhibit at the Evanston Art Center that will run through April 17. The community began in 2002 as artist Sarah Krepp’s post-grad seminar out of her home studio for artists in the Chicago area.

The exhibit features 12 Dialogue Chicago alumni who present art from a variety of disciplines, including photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media. The exhibit is titled “Dialogue Chicago: 12.”

“These featured artists are the ones that I feel are doing something terrific, both with their own careers as well as their work,” Krepp said. “I wanted to celebrate that, so I picked twelve of the alumni for the seminar.”

Krepp said the Dialogue Chicago seminar is important for visual artists in particular because they are often isolated in their professions. Dialogue Chicago has come to be a very lively artist community — both challenging and supportive, she said.

Chicago-based artist Chris Smith, a Dialogue Chicago alumnus whose colorful abstract paintings are featured in the exhibit, said the group was the perfect place for him to get feedback on his work and give feedback to other artists.

The group meets once a month and there are about 45 artists on the current roster, Krepp said. The artists are split into four groups, and during the meetings, artists bring their work in and submit it to their group for critique.

Chicago-based artist Kate Ingold, another one of the artists featured in the exhibition, said she joined the Dialogue Chicago group after moving to Chicago a few years ago.

“When you’re working in your studio by yourself, life can be pretty isolated,” Ingold said. “It’s pretty easy to self affirm or self doubt when you’re in your own space doing your own work, and it’s really important to step out of that and going into a group setting and getting a critique.”

Ingold’s pieces in the exhibition include two restored antique quilt pieces which are part of a new series she is starting called “Damaged Goods, Small Repairs.”

“It’s a very important, sentimental, hand-made piece,” Ingold said. “I decided to pay close attention to the piece, just as the maker of the piece had done, and I used a straight stitch and sewed real platinum thread into the quilt in concentric circles.”

Ingold said Krepp was one of her professors in college and has been a mentor to her since then. Krepp demands a lot from her artists and asks them to justify their work in the dialogue group, she said.

She added Krepp is generous with her comments but tough at the same time. In this way, Ingold said she helps artists by helping them think deeply about articulating their motivations in their work.

Similarly, Dialogue Chicago alumna and Chicago-based artist Mara Baker also worked with Krepp before participating in Dialogue Chicago, she said. She was Krepp’s studio assistant when she was an undergraduate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In the exhibit, Baker said she will display art made out of materials including plexiglass, spray paint and plastic fencing.

She added Dialogue Chicago was a beneficial experience for her in her growth as an artist.

“The strength of Dialogue Chicago is that there is a diversity of types of artists as well as artists from many generations,” Baker said. “I feel like the perspectives of the group are really unique and helpful.”

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