REBECCA GEORGE at Woman Made Gallery

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Rebecca George’s portrait work can be seen at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL in the Feminism (n.): Plural Group Exhibition

Progeny Self-Portrait. Oil on Canvas

Progeny Self-Portrait. Oil on Canvas

Alumni/Faculty Rebecca George is participating in a group exhibition at Woman Made Gallery this spring. Feminism (n.): Plural was curated by Director, Claudine Isé. After reviewing 529 works by 238 artists, she elected 44 works by 36 artists.

Interview with Rebecca George

Le Femmes Folles, Women in Art

Republished on June 10, 2015 by Nuria Sheenan, Director of Chicago Artists Resource: ART IS AN ACTION

Sumi Ink on Rives BFK

Sumi Ink on Rives BFK

MAY 11, 2015 with 3 NOTES        

Tags: REBECCA GEORGE. WOMAN MADE GALLERY

By: Sally Deskins

Rebecca George is exhibiting in Feminism Plural at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, opening Friday. She generously shares with LFF about taking her career in her own hands founding The Art House, feminism in her work, stellar advice for being an artist, and much more…

Where are you from? How did you get into art?

I’m from the south side of Chicago– I’ve been interested in drawing since I can remember. I pursued it throughout high school and college, which led to teaching art as well.

Tell me about your upcoming show and why it’s important to you.

Feminism Plural at Woman Made is an opportunity to exhibit with a group of talented and innovative women artists around the subject of being a woman. In recent years, my work has explored related themes of the female body, identity, cultural conditioning and impermanence. This will be the first show I’ve participated in where all the artists are women and the work is all related somehow to being a woman.

Do you think your city is a good place for women in art? Do you show your work elsewhere/is there a difference in how your work is received?

I have found Chicago a challenging place to find opportunities as an artist, but that didn’t stop me from creating them. I founded The Art House thearthouse.us in 2012 through which I have supported a large amount of local adult visual artists in their studio and professional practice. The Art House also exhibits work and in fact, is about to begin curating its first national exhibit: Art by America. We partner with artists and other art spaces, such as Arts on Elston, to help promote artists and increase opportunities for exhibiting work.

Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, examined the perspective of femininity and race in her work, and spoke positively of feminism, saying “yes, it is still relevant” to have exhibits and forums for women in art; does feminism play a role in your work?

In that I feel somewhat insistant about the right women have to choose not to marry and have children– cultural conditioning in many societies still look down upon unmarried women who raise animals instead of children. I represent myself struggling within myself in much of my paintings. The animals appear in that narrative as well.

Imprint of Loss, Oil on Belgian Linen

Imprint of Loss, Oil on Belgian Linen

If you could make one wish for art today, what would it be?

A stronger bridge between artists making work and people interested in learning more about it (potential supporters, collectors, etc), regardless of the artist’s geographic location. The small markets for contemporary artists are often exclusive and fail to represent the best quality work being made, in favor of presenting work of artists whom are already known.

What do you think is the most important issue facing artists—and/or artists who are women—today?

Sustaining their artistic practice in a way that allows the majority of their time to be spent making art rather than working jobs to survive.

Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.”  What is the most helpful advice you have received?

This is something I learned and pass on: art is an action. Do not try to make art in your head. Additionally, practice restraint– frequently get some distance from what you’re working on and consider it without judgment. Live with it until you KNOW what to do.

rebecca-george.com

womanmade.org/

~

Les Femmes Folles is a volunteer organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art from around the world with the online journal, print annuals, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  

Review of Group Show: CARISTA

Group Exhibition Review, Originally published February 22, 2015  

by: Emily Alesandrini


State of Being, Oil on Belgian Linen

State of Being, Oil on Belgian Linen

Vibrantly colored fish in oil pastel, politically incited mixed media works, industrial metal sculptures, letterpress poetry on delicately handmade paper and luscious nudes in oil on linen adorn the walls and floor space of the gallery rooms. The range of artistic representation reflects the diversity within this family of artists and friends. The vibrant, cacophonous details of life are the broad themes of Caristia.

The Art House founder Rebecca George participated in a richly diverse group exhibition in February at Arts on Elston gallery. Emily Alesandrini visited the show to interview the gallery's director, Art Connor, and the family of artists and friends who's art was on display. Caristia’s artists include: Heather Aitken, Celene Aubrey, Arthur Connor, Christine Connor, Elizabeth Connor, Mae Connor, Karl Fresa, Gordon France, Rebecca George, Eileen Madden, Dan Mullens, Vanessa Shaf.

Interview with Rebecca George by Audrey Victoria Keiffer

Figuration I, Charcoal on Paper

Figuration I, Charcoal on Paper

Originally published March 9, 2015

Audrey Victoria Keiffer, Textile Designer, Artist, & Writer, gets to know The Art House through interviewing its community of artists, including founder Rebecca George

Finding opportunities in the art world for beginning and emerging artists can be vague, but The Art House, located in Chicago, provides both local and long distance artists support in developing both technical and realistic skills for their career. Artist Rebecca George formed The Art House after she graduated from SAIC with a MFA in Painting and Drawing. After her experience as a student, she realized that identifying resources and a unique education for beginning and emerging artists was difficult, “there are many avenues to navigate and many artists who haven’t experienced the specifics as they pertain to the market and community of their geographic area may not recognize how to align the steps they take with the goals they have for themselves.” Nurturing students, The Art House provides artists with innovative studio courses, critique, quarterly exhibition opportunities and professional development. Located in Avondale, it’s a place in Chicago that is truly one of a kind. 

Parallel Planets: Rebecca George

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Parallel Planets, Originally published February 11, 2015

REBECCA GEORGE: AN UNFORGIVING LIGHT

A Parallel Planets piece by Nicole Lane

For six years, Rebecca George painted rabbits. In those six years, monoprints, screen prints, works on panel, oil paint and mixed media inhaled vitality and animation to the nose-twitching rabbits in Rebecca's work. The pilous pets of the artist are depicted with dense brushstrokes and realistic texture. Due to the medium of monoprinting, a method of printmaking, Rebecca's intimacy with her animals as well as the inherent connection to the medium, can be interpreted as an examination of the natural world in comparison to the human world. Emotional attachment, the Self, and immediacy can be concluded and observed whilst painting subjects that are incredibly familiar to the artist and the viewer. Rebecca states that caring for her "...companion animals comprises my household drama".

Ever since her 2014 solo show: How Many Rabbit, Rebecca isn't painting rabbits anymore. Following the completion of her 2013 oil painting, "Progeny Portrait", the artist has returned to painting the figure, focusing on the subject of impermanence, the limitations of the body, identity and the temporary nature of form. Similar to her rabbit series, Rebecca's current work is concentrated on light source, movement, and the layering of subject matter.

"Where Do we Come From? What are We? Where are We Going?" created by Paul Gauguin clots my mind when admiring Rebecca's recent works. Gauguin gave us yellow blinding light, cobalt blue shadows, and figures who danced around the canvas. Gauguin worked with a mythology which represented human life and the eroticism within a culture, specifically Tahitian. In Rebecca's piece, Imprint of Loss (2014), she works with Oil on Belgium Linen, creating a texture that encompasses deep crimson and phthalo green which are adjacent to pastel hues of blue, pink, and yellow. The figures within this piece rely on the importance of a light source, accuracy in form, and the understanding and knowledge of color. Moreover, the push and pull effect, originally developed by the pioneering artist Hans Hofmann, is incorporated in several of Rebecca's pieces where subjects disappear and reappear in the frame of the work. Specifically in Imprint of Loss and State of Being (Hard on Myself) (2015), Rebecca utilizes dark oil paints to further challenge the concept of layering, a reliable light source, and overall detail.

Rebecca George is creating ghostly and illuminated subjects--they are neither here nor there. Her interest in gestural pieces, the conversation between various figures and the movement which is depicted through a light source creates a conceptual narrative of identity, yet the ever-constant presence of disconnect. As seen in her 2014 piece, "Se Iudicem" (2014), translated into "Judges", Rebecca is investigation the burdens that a body can withstand--what our epidermis is concealing and how we cope with the wreckage that is stored inside.

The subject of light is continuously effervescent in Rebecca's body of work. "The work reveals the decisions of adding multiples of one figure to communicate a dialogue of gestures: twisting, bending, disconnected, uneasy--the body hit with an unforgiving light, broken into incomplete shapes, wrapped in cloth and shadow", states Rebecca about her recent works and the conversation that is implied through her process.

Beginning with portraiture of rabbits and other animals, such as her cat, Rebecca George's work studied the relationship between animals and humans, herself and the animal progeny. Currently, she is examining the implications of aging, mortality, body image, and the relationship between the form of her own body and the formless sense of the Self, and the vessel which stores, connects and disconnects the various experiences and evolving understanding related to form and environment.

Let's begin. Can you explain when and how you began drawing and painting?

I can't remember a time when I was not drawing. It really became supported when my father took me to an audition at The Chicago Academy of the Arts and I was accepted into their visual arts program my junior year of high school. That change in my educational environment led to an enriched exploration into painting, drawing, and printmaking, which has continued without interruption ever since.

Can you expand on your choice of working with neutral hues in your pieces?

Neutrality in a palette interests me greatly because it opens up a realm of color relationships that rely heavily on context; for example: although the 'red' in a primary color painting may actually be a neutral red-violet when viewed in isolation, in the context of the rest of the palette in the painting, it "reads" as a red. This means for me that I can play with the variables of temperature and value in color in a realm of subtlety that pushes me deeper into my own use of color as language.

The subject of light is incredibly important in recent pieces from your body of work. The light source connects and illuminates each subject differently and various vantage points. Can you discuss your technique with light and shadow?

In the overall emphasis of examining the form of the body as shapes, I do imply light and shadow as support in suggesting volume and adding contrast within position/negative space--the goal in many of these figural pieces is to imply movement and 'push' the assumed parameters of a static, still body.

Pentimento is utilized in several of your paintings of animals, as well as your recent pieces of figurative subjects. Can you discuss the decision to continue with this technique?

I feel this technique supports my examination of an array of underlying issues pertaining to the body: impermanence, the imprint of loss, the evolution of identity and the temporary nature of form. The language of the figure is expanded to incorporate exposure of the Pentimento in painting--the process of repentance and change.

Can you discuss the complications and successes that arise when painting with a combination of realism and spacial ambiguity?

Composition is the most challenging element when working with suggestive representations of recognizable form. The interplay of positive and negative space, how the figure moves in and out of recognition--it is delicate and sometimes a risky force of color relationships and implications of limbs, torsos, faces, hands, and feet. I never "fill in" space or looking at space between forms that way when I'm composing--often the painting will guide me by bringing my attention to the next place of focus and I have learned not to conceive further than that for fear of discovering the mystery before it is revealed in the painting. In other words, not making art in my head but from a vertical dimension of presence.

For six years you painted rabbits. Suddenly, you stopped. Can you explain this transition?

It's funny, because I thought I was 'done with' (i.e. painting) rabbits several times then something would happen that kept me engaged. I do experience a strong interest as a gift (inspiration perhaps) and I follow it, blindly even, wherever it leads me. I have always intended to return to the figure once I felt liberated and loose--the rabbit work gave me 6 years of getting back in touch with my 'hand' as something I could trust rather than prescribe.

What role do animals play in your personal life?

They are my progeny (extended family)--the animals that live with me are my most immediate relationships and the ones that don't live with me are just as sacred. I look to animals to remember how to let life flow through me, without role-playing, past or future.

How has the Chicago art scene contributed to your choice of subject matter, theme of identity, and overall body of work?

This is an interesting question in that I rarely talk about how rebelling against the conceptual culture of much of Chicago's art scene has been a recapturing of what painting means to me and how I'm still quite a traditionalist where all that is concerned (such as the age-old debate about a realistic painting's value in the face of a photograph and the notion that painting is dead because all's already been done and technology has eliminated the need for a sense of what painting involves). I think that one of a kind paintings that represent what is true in that time for the artist who made it, is a powerful and precious thing that defies reproduction or replication. The art market in Chicago being what it is (non-existent, really) can lead artists to entrepreneurialism--it certainly has for me. I am grateful for that in many ways.

Gaper's Block Feature Story with Rebecca George

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Originally published: February 5, 2015

By S. Nicole Lane

Re-published by The Chicago Sun Times on February 14, 2015

"Pushing the paint around -- it's always in an attempt to get at something: something true, powerful, good. Paint is pure, innocent...it holds the potential to become an image that captures a facet of the elusiveness that is one's experience of being alive. In this way, the practice of art-making honors both the love and the suffering by keeping a record while always remaining vulnerable," states Rebecca George, founder of The Art House, a studio workshop and gallery based in Chicago.

The Art House, located at 3453 N. Albany, offers artist residencies, innovative coursework, advanced support for artist's professional practice, and above all, an environment to flourish as a creative individual. The studio/gallery offers instructional courses for the development of personal momentum and a meaningful connection to one's work while expanding and strengthening the technical language of material and method.

The philosophical approach at The Art House is consistent with an academic advisory relationship, rich with valuable information on color, various media and practical advice for advancing ones artistic career. The Art House community comprises serious artists at various stages of experience who are committed to developing their work. Individual and group critique, unique course offerings and exhibition opportunities assist emerging and mid-career artists in reaching their goals.

I recently interviewed Rebecca George, artist, teacher and founder of The Art House, about the creative space, its history, present and future aspirations.

In addition to teaching at SAIC and the University of Chicago, you are also the director of The Art House, which thrives as a studio and a gallery space. Can you explain the history behind The Art House and how you began teaching adult artists?

After working with youth in the arts for many years, I began teaching in the continuing studies department at SAIC and was introduced to the fulfillment of teaching adults. In this context, I was able to more fully share my own process as an artist. My art-making is deeply rooted in surrendering to the present moment. I realized through my own practice that my innermost sense of who I am has nothing to do with the conditioning I've received or whether I 'measure up'. When I began teaching adults, I was able to articulate this dynamic as it manifests in the process of making art. The artists who study with me keep me centered on what is of essential importance- I must continually walk the talk of prolific activity and self-liberation in the studio in order to empower others to do it with my teaching. To quote an ancient Eastern saying, "The teacher and the taught together create the teaching."

What sparked your inspiration and motivation for beginning The Art House?

I found that supporting emerging artists in their studio and professional practice was my purpose in life -- not to sound cliché or silly at all -- I'm terribly sincere in this. I wanted to create a place where emerging artists could develop and reach their personal and professional creative goals. My work with artists in both classes and on an individual basis, include the nuts and bolts about materials and techniques, curating exhibitions and maintaining a sustainable professional practice. I wanted to offer this kind of personalized, in-depth support -- the kind that really accomplishes growth for each artist.

Can you explain some of the classes and techniques that you teach at The Art House?

I value all kinds of art-making and have taught beginner classes in painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. However, as The Art House grows, I have begun focusing curriculum on assisting artists in developing a meaningful body of work in the materials of their choosing. This approach has led to open studio courses with one-on-one attention, as well as specialized courses in techniques used by the old masters (glazing, lense and projection painting). Courses are small so that each artist can benefit regardless of their level or experience.

Can you explain the importance of one-on-one studio visits and individual instructions?

Individual instruction allows me to completely tailor my own knowledge, energy, resources and experience to the needs and interests of one artist. That kind of focused attention results in a 'speeding up' of the individual artist bringing their ideas to fruition and reaching their goals. My philosophy is empowering artists to do things for themselves and so while I teach and demonstrate techniques, skills and strategies, I support the artist in learning how to do it independently. If an artist is looking to learn the essentials that are specifically designed to meet them where they are and take them to a self-sufficient studio and professional practice, then working with me on an individual basis can be an excellent choice. I have begun working with individual artists in other states as well.

Do students usually come to The Art House with extensive art studio practice or are there beginners as well?

There happens to be a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience in the artists attending classes--the resulting mixed groups are supportive and enriching as individual artists develop their work. Seeing how other artists interpret projects and techniques, manage challenges and express ideas is enlightening. The small class sizes allow each course group to form a community.

Would you like to expand on the Art House's upcoming exhibition, Art by America: A National Review of 2-Dimensional Contemporary Art, which will be juried by James Yood of ArtForum and Ginny Voedish of the Art Institute of Chicago? March 20 is the deadline to submit. Does The Art House typically have juried exhibitions? And how frequently?

This is The Art House's first annual juried exhibition. However, it is more than merely an opportunity to participate in a group show: This annual exhibition is a collaborative effort between the practicing artists of The Art House, the Arts on Elston Gallery and the field of Art History and Criticism to gather a wide range of submissions in order to determine the two-dimensional contemporary visual art trends and traditions across America.

Chicago Sun-Times Interview with Rebecca George

July 10, 2014

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A Show about Rabbits

By Sarah Terez-Rosenblum on July 10, 2014

“Ollie”, 2014, Oil on Cradled Maple Panel by Rebecca George. Catalog cover image for “Have Many Rabbit” Exhibition, 2014.

“Ollie”, 2014, Oil on Cradled Maple Panel by Rebecca George. Catalog cover image for “Have Many Rabbit” Exhibition, 2014.

Artist Rebecca George grew up drawing. But without her father’s early support, she might not have won a scholarship to Maryland Institute, College of Art before later pursuing an MFA in Painting & Drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Now this School of the Art Institute of Chicago faculty member and Founder of The Art House gallery and studio workshop is preparing for a salon-style exhibit featuring hundreds of rabbit-themed work. She spoke with Our Town about her influences, teaching and um rabbits.

Our Town: Who are your influences?

Rebecca George: Käthe Kollwitz --a major influence on me throughout my career--her use of gesture with the most direct and immediate application of materials is astounding. I also frequently return to Paul Gauguin, captivated by the undertone of hue in his earthy neutrals as well as use of intense color to convey emotion.

OT Is training necessary?

RG Great question. It is necessary for an artist to make art as often as they can. That, and suspending self-evaluation while they do it, is what most effectively trains any artist in making work that is uniquely theirs. I don't know about anybody else, but I've never been able to make art in my head. Art is an action, and action takes place in the present. Artists need to pay complete attention to what is happening in the moment. Training in the traditional sense adds exposure through feedback from other artists and so on. Even though that feedback is not always helpful, it is important for artists to open themselves up to being seen. There are, after all, two parts to being an artist: making the work and getting the work in front of people.

OT Tell us about The Art House

RG The Art House is a grassroots studio workshop and gallery space for emerging and professional artists. Courses cover a wide range of materials and are structured to accommodate artists at different levels of experience. We offer opportunities that support both studio and professional development. My work with classes and individual artists include the nuts and bolts about materials and techniques, curating exhibitions and maintaining a sustainable professional practice.

OT How do your teaching and your own art influence each other?

RG My art-making is deeply rooted in surrendering to the present moment. I realized through my own practice that my innermost sense of who I am has nothing to do with the conditioning I've received or whether I 'measure up'. When I began teaching adults, I was able to articulate this dynamic as it manifests in the process of making art. The artists who study with me keep me centered on what is of essential importance- I must continually walk the talk of prolific activity and self-liberation in the studio in order to empower others to do it with my teaching. To quote an ancient Eastern saying: "The teacher and the taught together create the teaching."

OT Tell us about “Have Many Rabbit.”

RG is a culmination of work in response to the gradual adding of more rabbits to my household--a deeper knowing of them as individuals and bonded groups has led to a rapid momentum of similarly themed works. As I began curating the walls of my Logan Square Coach House, the salon-style format (ceiling to floor display) became incredibly appealing to me. Seeing it all this way gradually intensified the need to get it in front of people as a single exhibition.

OT What intrigues you about rabbits?

RG I keep noticing I don’t have an ‘elevator’ speech in response to this frequently posed inquiry! My first encounter with a rabbit marked quite a change in the trajectory of my visual work. She was in the bottom cage under a tall stack of animals for sale at a Mexican dollar store in Chicago. At once she was in my arms and we were on our way home. She, and the ones who've joined my life since, taught me life lessons both straightforward and profound: impermanence, fragility, presence and humor. I've had many different kinds of pets in my lifetime but it is the rabbits that keep getting through to me. Their many poses, including a favorite with stretched out legs, their tiny mouths yawning like mini hippo teeth and the all-too-familiar hard slap of their hind quarters to express displeasure have captivated me for years. Further, rabbits are not hearty creatures, making the time with them more precious. As prey animals they disguise illness and injury. I've had to learn the subtleties of their silent language in order to protect and care for them. They've "stretched" me in more ways than I can name.

The Art House presents Have Many Rabbit, A Bunny-Rabbit Exhibition Party featuring recent work by artist REBECCA GEORGE Opening Reception: Thursday, July 17, 2014 6 PM--10 PM.