Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston artist Kathy Halper explores antisocial world in new exhibit ‘JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out’

Evanston+Art+Center%E2%80%99s+new+exhibit+by+Kathy+Halper+depicts+Evanston%E2%80%99s+architectural+design+and+scenes+of+Halper%E2%80%99s+intimate+life.%0A
Isaiah Tatum/The Daily Northwestern
Evanston Art Center’s new exhibit by Kathy Halper depicts Evanston’s architectural design and scenes of Halper’s intimate life.

Surrounded by friends, family and spectators, local artist Kathy Halper debuted her exhibit “JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out,” a depiction of her appreciation of the antisocial, on Sunday at the Evanston Art Center.

“JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out” is a wordplay on the popular phrase “FOMO” — fear of missing out — demonstrating her acceptance of a clear social calendar and quiet home life.

Halper’s collection, primarily composed of paintings, is a shift from her previous work, which has included a series of embroidered art displaying the lives of teenagers, and another that focuses on life disappointments.

Halper’s art career began in her mid-thirties, when she began illustrating flowers with pastels. Her talent was evident immediately, said her husband Rick Levine.

“She started making these pieces of art. I was just amazed,” Levine said. “This skill fell out of her, it felt like.”

Halper was working as an advertising copywriter when she pivoted to art to be able to stay home with her young children. She added she is an entirely self-taught artist.

“I’ve considered what I’ve done for the past 30 years as giving myself an art training,” Halper said. “I’ve constantly been looking to develop skills.”

Levine said his wife demonstrated a passion for art and a willingness to improve while working on her earlier pieces.

Three years ago, Halper gave herself a challenge. She was going to depict her story of introverted attitudes and document her present life in all its reserved simplicity. 

Halper began working on “JOMO” during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving plenty of time to contemplate her artistic direction.

“I wanted to feel like I was making work that was purely my voice,” Halper said.  

Halper decided early that she was going to use paint as her medium. She was drawn to an assortment of different materials to pair with painting, including cardboard, glitter, fabric and clay. No element was off limits, she said.

Halper said she found that the lack of social expectations she found in quarantine was enjoyable. A mundane task such as walking her beloved dog, Fiona, was something that vitalized her.

Then, she began to paint.

“The first pieces I did were neighborhood scenes,” Halper said. “I started to focus more on internal scenes — scenes in relationship to my family members. Our daughter was living with us at the time, my husband, of course, and the dog is always present.”

Portraits such as “Succession Finale,” “Mother & Daughter” and “10:30” display the reclusive moments we take for granted, including those moments shared with loved ones, Halper said. Other paintings like “Folk Art Fiona” and “Walking Fiona” feature her dog and Evanston architecture, two popular muses in her collection. Throughout “JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out,” Halper distorts perspective and utilizes bright colors to emphasize the disruption of life.

Halper said she feels like she was able to fully realize her vision. 

“I do feel like I have created my world,” Halper said. 

Email: [email protected]

X: @isaiahltatum

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