Evanston Art Center exhibits explore industrial design in new series


Sneha Dey/The Daily Northwestern

“The Bird in Fright,” a work by Karl Johnson featured at the Evanston Art Center. Johnson said the materials and the subject emphasized the contradiction of industrialism and nature.

Sneha Dey, Assistant City Editor

Artist Karl Johnson said people do not stop to look at the Earth enough.

“We put blinders on ourselves,” Johnson said.

In his work featured as part of a new series at the Evanston Art Center, Johnson built sculptures to resemble natural elements using “discarded” industrial materials from a junk pile. He said his pieces attempt to give these used-up materials “a spirit, an animation.”

The Evanston Art Center premiered this new series exploring industrial design on Saturday, including pieces from Johnson, C. Stowe Myers and Jessica Gondek. The exhibitions will be on display through March 24.

Johnson said he grew up surrounded by nature in Libertyville, Illinois, where his family owned an arborist business. Over the years, Johnson said he has seen the ecosystem decline, and has also seen people forget to appreciate nature.

Johnson, Myers and Gondek use different mediums — sculptures, design models and 2D art, respectively.

Nathan Florsheim, a photography instructor at Evanston Art Center, said the different mediums reflect the diversity of artists at the Evanston Art Center.

“It’s this really nice collage from different components of the art world,” Florsheim said. ”We really want to open up our space to those different components.”

The late C. Stowe Myers’ son Charlie Myers curated his exhibit. Charlie Myers said his father was “some sort of a legend” as an industrial designer in the late 60s, and his design of voltage meters was featured at the Louvre.

Growing up, Charles Myers said, he didn’t have a full grasp of what his father did. He said he used to see his father as “magician” because of the “amazing illustrations” his father produced so quickly, and recalled his father trying to explain he could not touch the product models because they were not toys.

Godek’s exhibition “Enterprising Machines” uses 2D art to explore industrialism. The exhibition looks at the “amalgamation of the hand and the machine,” and Gondek said she was inspired by domestic utilitarian objects featured in vintage trade catalogues.

Godek also said she tried to find the physical objects in flea shops, and the works of art produced are “an amalgam of those different experiences with the forms.”

In her creative process, Gondek used both current technology, like 3D modeling software and Photoshop, and mechanical approaches, like charcoal and pastel drawings.

“These works hold in common a marriage of both traditional media and digitally mediated computer approaches intrinsic to the development of the images,” Gondek wrote in her artistic statement for the exhibition.

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