The Merwin & Wakeley Galleries
Illinois Wesleyan University
May 6 - May 29, 2015

(Galleries closed for Memorial Day 5/25)

Thursday, May 7th
Reception 4-5PM
Gallery talk by the artists 4:15PM




Reflections on the North
Thomas Berenz

“My paintings are about my relationship to the world around me; cerebral and physical, intellectual and visceral. I use the disaster motif as a metaphor to discuss personal, sociopolitical, environmental and ideological issues. Through the motif of disaster, I explore the existential self and examine personal narratives, with some being more literal and others more enigmatic. Notions of loss, place, memory, space and time are central as I reexamine personal experiences from my past and present. The imagery is in constant flux, but always returns to a pile. A pile is everything and it is nothing. It is a mound that once was and now isn’t; a mass of information, both physical and metaphysical, organized and chaotic. These works emphasize form over narrative. I inject painterly gestural forms with flat edited down shapes. This results in a striking dichotomy between the strong emotional subtext of the work and the stark rigidity of its execution.

5th Birthday Cake. 60" x 72". acrylic and spray paint on canvas. 2013

The paintings are about an investigation of unlimited possibilities, applications, and styles within a painting. I am interested in expanding the vocabulary within each painting and within the group. The work is ultimately about two-dimensional space, the language of painting, and the way an aftermath site is transformed into a painting. I am interested in blurring the lines between realism and abstraction, life and death, beauty and horror, devastation and sublime. Everything we live with as Americans is delicately balanced – the cars (magic carpets/ death traps), houses (castles/ prisons), and wilderness (paradise/oblivion). I examine contradictions within the idiom of painting by responding to the outside world. By reestablishing a different logic within the painting itself, I investigate how a painting can sit in a place that can only happen in two-dimensional space. I explore the in-between space that is neither real nor artifice, still-life nor landscape, natural nor artificial, messy nor clean, flat nor deep, and dynamic nor static.” - Thomas Berenz

Born in Fond du Lac, WI, Berenz earned a Master of Arts in Painting at Northern Illinois University and Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received the Honored Instructor Award. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Best Painting at the National Weather Center Biennale and was recently interviewed by Fresh Paint Magazine. The paintings of Tom Berenz appear in many public collections including Aurora University, Ripon College and Northwestern Mutual. An active lecturer and juror throughout the Midwest, Berenz teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and lives in Milwaukee, WI and regularly exhibits throughout the United States.


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Simultaneous Contrast

Carolina Rodriguez

Carolina Rodriguez is a Costa Rican artist with a Bachelor's degree in Printmaking from the University of Costa Rica. She has had ten solo exhibitions and has been featured in seventeen group exhibitions. She has worked in various media such as screen printing, collage, metal etching, acrylic paint, and digital images. Carolina is married to Cesar Valverde, son of the painter of the same name and a professor of Latin American Literature at Illinois Wesleyan University. 

Sky to Chicago. 40 x 50 cm. Digital print. 2014

From a very early age, Carolina has been fascinated by art and culture from around the world and has had the opportunity to travel around Mexico, Central and South America exploring different cities and aesthetics, absorbing several different artistic models, from the syncretic Baroque of Chichen Itza and Cusco to the minimalism and Neo Pop of Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol. 
Carolina's subject matter includes the people and architecture of San Jose, Costa Rica; pop art; the landscapes of Chicago; pre-Colombian art; and the bucolic atmosphere of rural Illinois. Carolina divides her time between the United States and Costa Rica, and her most recent work is a contrast between contemporary and pre-Colombian Costa Rica, as well as between the prairies of Illinois and the metropolis of Chicago. 





Monday-Friday: 12-4 p.m.
Tuesday evening: 7-9 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 1-4 p.m.


Ames School of Art

Illinois Wesleyan University
6 Ames Plaza West
Bloomington, Illinois  61701
Gallery Information:309.556.3822