One of Chicago’s premier conceptual photographers, Carole Harmel’s latest ingenious series had her taking color portraits of twenty-six of the city’s artists and then having her subjects paint, draw, apply textiles or otherwise grace the prints with their media, with the aim of fitting themselves into Homer’s Odyssey. Seeking a genuine collaboration, Harmel gave the artists maximum latitude in imagining what roles they would play in the classic and how they would interpret them visually, leading to a stylistic romp that is by turns boldly rollicking and replete with profound pathos, and is always suffused with wit, which befits Odysseus the wily adventurer. Among the many feats of visual intelligence here, none is more on the mark than Lialia Kuchma’s transformation of herself into Penelope, Odysseus’ wife who weaves and waits patiently for his return as he goes through seemingly endless trials, tests and tribulations; Kuchma has taken her portrait and covered it with a beautiful tight mesh that encloses her in a prison of hope. (Michael Weinstein)
Through November 26 at Printworks Gallery, 311 West Superior
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