Dedicated fashionista Helen Maurene Cooper has turned her considerable talents with the camera to shooting lush and vibrant flashing color studies of the “Chicago-centered trends in synthetic nail design.” Cooper’s compositions, despite her description of her subject, are at the antipodes of the photographic fare of the style magazine; going up close, her images are stunning nearly abstract visions of exquisitely involved multi-colored patterns extending from real fingers and placed on glowing settings of flowers and jewels. The Chicago school of nail adornment stresses interlocking swirls and curves that flare into wildness, yet remain disciplined by an underlying design. Indirect references to fauna and flora heighten the overall sense of vitality and dynamism. Cooper here is an art photographer, creating a total visual construction in her images in which the nails are only a component, albeit an essential one. (Michael Weinstein)
Through February 26 at Harold Washington College President’s Gallery, 30 E. Lake, room 1105.