The works in “Confluence,” a group exhibition at Heaven Gallery, channel deep, watery meditations. Each of the four artists, all of whom are based in Chicago, regularly use materials from the natural world in their practices. The sculptures, textiles and works on paper each call the viewer to stillness.
Olive Stefanski’s richly hued three-dimensional forms and wall-hung fabrics are the products of time-intensive processes, each an act of devotion to the slow making of art. Two curvilinear woven basket-like forms were shaped intuitively using water. Upon completion they were dyed a dark shade of indigo, used natural materials mixed by the artist—the finished pieces are stunning in their craftsmanship. “Piercing the Firmaments” is a hand-woven textile, composed of an abstract composition made of varying shades of blue that has been cut through in places, complicating the wholeness and predictability of the form.
Ryn Osbourne’s cyanotypes on paper seem to be in direct conversation with Stefanski’s indigo. “Temperate, I am here and here” is a spare sort of cyanotype drawing, made by the artist painting directly on the paper and then rinsing to reveal brilliant blue hues. The large scale of the work, which is about five feet wide and over four feet tall, necessitates full-body movement to create.
Lucia Calderon Arrieta uses the imagery of skin conditions as a way to investigate identity. In two untitled mixed-media collages, vibrant metallic and handmade paper, pen and gouache move organically around the piece. The edges are not perfect, and at moments the materials spill off the sides, as if they were organisms unable to be contained.
Abena Motaboli also takes inspiration from the natural world in her works. “Stains in Me” and “Stains in Us” are part of the series “Residual Stains,” each made with tea, coffee, natural inks and natural pigments. The results are inkblot-like shapes in earthy tones that almost mimic the rings of a tree. Motaboli has also included poems written on textural handmade paper embedded with flowers. A few are part of an ongoing series where the artist writes poems to the lake. “Looking to the water is like an ode to life,” one poem opens. It’s a reflection on the constancy of the water, the way it is always in motion, always changing—as are we. The unpredictability of nature is in a way mirrored in each of these works: varying the shade of a color or the pliability of material, reminding us that there is much in life beyond our control.
“Confluence” is on view at Heaven Gallery, 1550 North Milwaukee, through March 13.