BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –Illinois Wesleyan University’s Merwin and Wakeley galleries will feature the work of celebrated Chicago artist Richard Hull and Bloomington
painter and mixed-media artist Susan Emmerson in May. Emmerson will discuss her work on May 5 at 5 p.m. in the galleries.
Hull’s work will be seen in a self-titled exhibit in the Merwin Gallery of the Joyce
G. Eichhorn Ames School of Art Building, 6 Ames Plaza West, Bloomington. Hull joined the Phyllis Kind Gallery before
his graduation from the School of the Art Institute Chicago. An architecturally inspired
artist, Hull calls his recent paintings and drawings of the past four years “stolen
portraits.” His crayon drawings, in particular, are portraits in the form of hairdos,
each one expressing a distinct visual personality rather than a representation of
a particular individual. He has also been influenced by the concept of a Klein bottle,
a non-orientable surface with no identifiable “inner” and “outer” side. In Hull’s
'stolen portraits,' horsetails now resemble looping flower petal forms – building
blocks for portrait-like structures. The bulbous loops are accentuated by minute,
repetitive, often concentric actions within the large masses.
Hull’s paintings, drawings and prints are in the collections of several museums including
the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Smithsonian
Museum, Washington, D.C.; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; Museum of Fine
Arts, Houston and the Smart Museum, Chicago. He has exhibited his work at the Art
Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas
City; the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Conn.; Contemporary Art Center,
Cincinnati; Portland Art Museum; the Cleveland Institute of Art; Herron Gallery of
Art, Indianapolis; Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Mary and Leigh
Block Museum of Art, Evanston, Ill.; and the Painting Center in New York.
Emmerson is inspired by the human body, but in her case, the former ear, nose and
throat surgeon is fascinated with the hidden biological systems inside of us, including
nerves, veins, and cells. “Translating biology into layman’s language for others has
always been a part of my life and has become the impetus behind my recent art,” she
said. In her forties, Emmerson took early retirement to pursue an art career, obtaining
a bachelor of fine arts degree from Illinois State University and a master of fine
arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston (now Lesley University College of Art
and Design). She has exhibited in galleries in both Boston and Chicago as well as
throughout Illinois. She is a member of the Kingston Gallery in Boston.
Whether through large drawings, paintings, or cut paper and Tyvek, the abstract forms
Emmerson creates share many qualities with live organisms: flowing, expanding, growing,
repeating and proliferating, and remind viewers that the interconnections of biologic
systems reflect the interconnections between people, groups and communities. She will
present a Gallery Walk of her exhibit “Tolerance of the Unexpected” from 5 to 5:30
p.m. on May 5 in the Wakeley Gallery.
Ian Carey, director of the Merwin and Wakeley Galleries, said he is grateful to Chicagoan
Kaylee Wyatt who served as guest curator for Hull’s exhibition. Carey also noted the
generous contributions of Bloomington-based Manneken Press and Chicago’s Western Exhibitions
gallery to make the Hull exhibition possible.
Both shows remain on exhibit through May 27. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday
12 to 4 p.m., Tuesday evenings 7 to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.