The “meet-cute,” a cinema trope in which two characters meet in a romantic comedy, is similar to the serendipitous meeting that led artists Brenda Thomas and Karen Tichy to not only share studio space but also collaborate for their latest exhibit, “Diverging Mergers.” Thomas worked at The Container Store in visual merchandising and was in the process of searching for studio space in the Fine Arts Building. Tichy went to the same store as a customer looking for storage for her studio. The rest was fate.
Each artist’s biography and artistic development, presented as side-by-side timelines, takes up half the gallery space, climaxing in real time with the objects produced for the show. The two recount a variety of heartbreaking, humorous and familiar stories concerning the trajectory of one’s chosen career path. Thomas frequently states that she is “longing to just be an artist” and feels trapped by the elements of the “real world.” That narrative is the underlying angle of each artists’ timeline, and it is not until they both settle in Chicago and meet that their artistic renaissance emerges. However, the various mixed-media collages and sculptures do not necessarily indicate the importance or relevance of the artists connecting with each other. One sculpture constructed of tools and household items such as nails, keys, and scissors features techniques never written about by the artists in their timelines. Although interesting to view in their own right, the timelines and objects never fully explicate how form, content and context mix to enlighten the artists’ work and collaboration. If biography is so important to their art, then why does it not figure prominently in the work itself? (Britt Julious)
Through October 30 at Finestra Art Space, 410 S. Michigan, Suite 516.