Exhibition: Whose Body, Self: Les Femmes Folles

JULY 18, 2019

“WHOSE BODY, SELF”: REBECCA GEORGE

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Rebecca George featured work in response to LFF’s “Whose Body, Self” series:

In this series, Abstract v. Figurative, Rebecca George explores the contrast between representing the figure/portrait while abstracting elements that are essential in a more traditional treatment of the human body. The effort to interrupt/abstract the body presents a doubt, a question: what is essential to “hold me together”? 

“Compression”, 2019, Oil and Beeswax on Portrait Linen with Collage. Rebecca George. All rights reserved.

“Compression”, 2019, Oil and Beeswax on Portrait Linen with Collage. Rebecca George. All rights reserved.

The collage material (antique burlap) was affixed to high grade Belgian Linen with an archival adhesive primer prior to the application of high quality oil
and raw pigments mixed with unbleached beeswax. The variations in surface texture are rich to the eye and ‘break up’ the continuity of a face, a body–so that the viewer sees both the figure and the abstraction of the figure.

Palette is intentionally limited to push the focus on value, chroma and temperature changes/relationships, allowing the viewer to experience the qualities of the collage material as the figures and material cross those impactful surface interruptions. These shallow planes of physical space created by the burlap, etc…serve to abstract the figures through the dramatic change in how it “takes” the pigment and refuses to follow the contours of the representational 
forms.


Find Rebecca’s work here:

https://www.rebecca-george.com/
https://www.artsy.net/artist/rebecca-george

Book: Curatorial, Leaders in Contemporary Art

July 2019

Capsules Books

Hardcover edition featuring 200 international visual artists, this publication shares full color images of contemporary artist’s work. Work by Rebecca George in both abstract and figurative series are included.

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Work by Rebecca George and 200 contemporary artists around the world.

Work by Rebecca George and 200 contemporary artists around the world.

Abstract and Figurative Series by Rebecca George curated into this first edition volume of Leaders in Contemporary Art.

Abstract and Figurative Series by Rebecca George curated into this first edition volume of Leaders in Contemporary Art.


Featured Artist, Velocity Magazine

Spring Issue, 2019

Maryland Institute, College of Art, Velocity Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2 Cover

Maryland Institute, College of Art, Velocity Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2 Cover

Photo by Tori Soper

Photo by Tori Soper

Rebecca George is a painter who maintains a rigorous exhibition and studio practice and is the founder and president of The Art House Gallery. Her work is in collections around the world and she is well-published. George has also instructed artists at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Chicago. After MICA, she earned an MS in nonprofit business administration and an MFA in painting and drawing.

rebecca-george.com

Additional publication by the photographer: Environmental Portraits for Velocity Magazine

by Tori Soper | Jul 29, 2019 | Behind the Scenes

Interview with Rebecca George

February 11, 2019

By Michelle Brook, Editor, Capsules Books

Thank you for speaking with us today Rebecca, we’re looking forward to learning about your work as an artist and educator and gaining a deeper understanding of your creative process.

Firstly, could you tell us about your work and the themes and topics you explore?

Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my work. Over the last 5 years my painting went from being solely representational to an embracing of abstraction. It was a very significant and challenging shift. Working abstractly opened up painting for me in a fresh way, leading to curiosity and excitement over raw pigments, painting mediums, application methods and surfaces quality that were not bound to the forms of realism. And although I have worked large scale for many years, I started exploring 8’ and 9’ canvases, composing with pouring saturated stains and wet-into-wet oil painting. The desire to return to the figure in my work nagged me for about a year before I acted on it. These new pieces are all about family and demonstrate varying degrees of merging the abstract with recognizable form.

Most recently, this has included building up the surface of the linen I paint on with very old and well worn burlap sacks I find on ebay along with other fabrics such as uncut lengths of hand woven, German linen dish towels that have a nubby texture. These collaged elements completely interrupt the otherwise predictable flow of a painted face/body. Because these surfaces “take” the paint so differently, the viewer has to kind of puzzle the image together to recognize the figures and their context.

I continued to work abstractly throughout the return to the figure in painting and will typically have 2-4 large scale pieces (at least one figurative in nature) in progress at the same time. Both ways of working inform each other and provide me with a variety of ways to initiate, build and resolve pieces without being attached to the outcome.


You have studied art extensively and built a successful following throughout your career, can you rewind for a moment and explain how your relationship with art began?

Although no one in my family were visual artists, I was interested in drawing and color from a very young age. I was able to study more seriously when I was accepted to The Chicago Academy for the Arts, a very small private high school for performing and visual artists. It was my Dad who found out about the school and encouraged me to develop the application portfolio, which if I remember correctly, was about a week prior to their final interview deadline.

I attended the Academy for my final 2 years during which time, I was immersed in college level arts and academic training. I pieced together the tuition with help from my Dad, summer long work study, part time jobs, donations from extended family and parents of fellow classmates. It’s really incredible how much support came through just when I needed it, giving me a start on pursuing my art as a lifelong career.
I loved everything about the Academy: the small class sizes, the long hours, the commute downtown from my home on the far Southside of Chicago, and being taken seriously as an artist for the first time in my life. The Chair of the Visual Arts Department at that time was Mr. Glenn Rupert, who had cultivated relationships with art colleges throughout the United States. His attention to the future of his students and the quality of courses in his department is largely responsible for my receiving a full scholarship to attend Maryland Institute, College of Art. All these things had to happen to give me enough of a foundation to move forward.

You are a versatile artist and your portfolio features work created in variety of painting styles. Can you tell us more about your decision to use a diverse range of painting techniques and media, as opposed to having a signature aesthetic?

I think ultimately the reason for my insistence on working in multiple styles/techniques comes from having felt incredibly limited by working realistically for the first 16 years out of undergraduate school. Although by then I had lost interest in painting from photos, I hadn’t developed other ways of expressing content. My painting suffered. I embraced the willingness to start over, refusing to rely on those same techniques for making a painting. My work during that transition was tentative, lacking in confidence and sometimes quite sentimental. My need to expand what felt possible as ways of working fuelled me through those few years of redefining painting for myself.

During that time, I came to understand that the inner critic had to be eliminated from my process. That originality could only be found by getting out of the way and letting painting paint. Having several pieces that focus on different materials and approaches in progress simultaneously helps me stay detached from the outcome and allows me to trust whatever direction I gravitate towards at any given time. No longer do I subject an idea to scrutiny or develop and execute preconceived plans for art making. I give myself plenty of permission to try my ideas, change direction in the middle of a piece, paint over a seemingly successful painting and maintain a relationship of curiosity with the work, balancing the notions of invention and discovery. My standard shifted from trying to make the best painting I can to needing to be fully engaged in the process and feeling connected to the work.

You will be featuring three of your works in our directory Curatorial Volume.1: ‘Myth God Janus, 2018’, ‘Idem, 2018’ and ‘Inheritance, 2018’. We would love to know more about your creative process on these particular pieces.

I’m very excited to be included in the upcoming directory. The 3 pieces that are featured in this publication represent the range in which I’m currently working: “Myth God Janus” was developed with a wet-into-wet oil painting technique that utilizes the linen surface as an element in the palette and composition. This piece is about finding balance in the coming and going/beginnings and endings evident in life. I utilized gesture, long attachments to extend my reach with the brush and high gloss mediums to contrast the applied oil paint from the Belgian linen.

“Idem” was built exclusively by pouring oil paint thinned with solvent onto untreated canvas, staining the fibers and providing a very saturated surface. I had found that kerosene evaporates better than other oil based solvents as it dries, allowing for a much greater chromatic intensity. “Idem” utilizes this technique while welcoming chance, as there is always an element of surprise that accompanies pouring paint out of vessels and using gravity to build a painting.

Lastly, “Inheritance” is part of a series of collaged grounds juxtaposed with representational portraits of family members. Utilizing a 35mm slide projector to preview/develop scale and placement variations, I identify a composition that will challenge me to hold the forms together visually by imposing them over collaged linen, burlap, and canvas. The projector is a great tool to work from in the early stages of a large scale painting that incorporates recognizable form. Having the image projected allows me to pick and choose shapes to include and alter the palette without having to trouble the surface with proportion fixes. This approach has a benefit of allowing me to add as little or as much paint to the variety of surfaces created by the collage, ultimately including unpainted sections as being as valid as painted ones. I complete the pieces without the projector, with the interest equally in the abstract properties as much as in the representational forms.

Process is key in your work and you have highlighted that the fluidity involved in each step, between start to the final version of a single piece, can stand alone as part of a progression of work. You document the process and emphasise that no step is without value. Can you provide us with insight into this philosophy and why it is important to you?

It doesn’t sound like much of a revelation, but the process of painting creates the painting. If I work wet-into-wet, utilize the rag to paint by removal, add addendum mediums to the paint, use paint I made from raw pigments or work on a primed or untreated surface, the choices in combination create the final version. Therefore I can’t separate how a painting is made from the painting itself. This for me simply means paying close attention to my choices and how everything is impacted once it is in a context. Exploring these options over many years of painting and teaching painting has given me valuable insights into all the incredible things paint can do. I’ve met a lot of painters who feel stuck and I’ve been there myself. The philosophy I’ve developed that highlights total engagement in process rather than outcome helps me continuously expand what is familiar and welcome the unknown. I find it to be a remedy for the “stuckness” I’ve experienced.

You have over 25 years experience working as a professional artist. During this period your work has evolved in a number of ways. What have been the defining influences that have changed the trajectory of both your aesthetic and subjects?

The first half of this time I spent attempting to master photorealism. I never did, of course. I had stuff going on the side of those very ambitious efforts, small drawings and collages for example, that expressed things about my daily life, such as relationships or the loss of a pet. But I didn’t take those seriously and kept pushing myself to complete large, multi-figure, social justice paintings that posed people in a context much like a theatre-stage. It took a long time before I recognized my personal content as valid enough to be in my main work.

What followed was another longish bout with painting myself and exploring issues relating to my body, self image and loss. I remember really feeling frustrated that I was limited to the figure to talk about what I wanted to say, and to try ways of painting that I wanted to try. I began challenging this in my work by painting the figure then taking it out, painting across the torso or face as though it were just another shape. Several paintings later, I abandoned the figure altogether and thus began my relationship with abstraction.

It’s interesting to point out that during this evolution, I started The Art House and was teaching painting almost daily to adults who were serious about their connection to painting as well. Every time I encountered/learned something exciting to me about materials, color, other artists, etc I had a direct and immediate sharing of it with my students. Their questions and interpretations, my responses and research, added up to further the momentum of all our work and created a real strong support for risk taking.
Without having to be beholden to the figure, I leapt deeply into the vast possibilities of what is painting.
I continue to be grateful for the teaching studio relationships that make up the community of The Art House. In the past year or so, the figure has made a come back in my work. A different branch of my practice, not yet as pliable with the infinite feeling abstract approaches, but sharing in the dialog that makes up my work.

Whilst developing your career, did you ever encounter any obstacles and what pushed you forward through those difficult moments? Once you began your studies in art, what plans did you have? Did you always envision becoming an educator as well as a professional artist?

I did love teaching even from the first time I did it at age 18. I enrolled in an arts ed course in college and remember dropping it because the professor introduced the syllabus with a page describing “how to talk to little people” (referring to children). I decided I already knew how to do that and focused on art education as part time jobs, while using my degree program to take good advantage of their facilities in metal, ceramic, printmaking and fiber. I somehow knew I’d always be a painter, so I hardly took painting classes at all in my general fine arts curriculum.

Seems contradictory to some, but perhaps I needed to figure painting out on my own. I cared about imparting the arts to my students and the satisfaction/reward from my jobs helped propel me through many obstacles, financial and otherwise.

Always maintaining a studio is another important element -- even during times when I felt stuck and hardly went into the studio, which is a very painful thing, I maintained it, kept the door open and often looked inside the room. I have a lot of compassion for that suffering in people-- longing to enter the creative space and be free, but stopped short by the inner critic in its various forms.


You have built an impressive and sizable community on Instagram, with thousands of followers!
Can you share any tips for artists looking to develop their audience on this platform?

I look at social media and my websites as my online face-- I think it’s important that you feel it is an honest face. The visual conversation we can have now with artists all over the world is incredible. Literally in my lifetime, my focus went from being almost entirely referencing historical artists to being aware of painting trends as they develop all across the globe. Before this technology artists had to be seen in person or already publicized with an audience to get on the radar of other living artists. It broadens the conversation immensely.

I also really appreciate it when artists use social media to share their process, works in progress, and studio set up, not only framed, exhibited works. I appreciate when artists from around the world comment on something I’m working on. You can feel when there’s an authentic, relevant sharing going on, where artists are taking a genuine interest in other artists. You don’t have to know the person or speak the same language to take an interest and show support.

I save a lot of images by other artists on platforms like Instagram and I share them with my students- almost equally a natural teaching tool as is my historical and contemporary art book collection in the studio. I think artists who genuinely engage, receive more engagement from their peers.


Finally, we would love to know what your plans are for the future. Can you tell us what projects you have planned for 2019?

I am in the process of rebuilding TheArtHouse.us website to include live auctions in our online gallery and ways for artists to apply for representation by The Art House Gallery. This will expand our online presence as a gallery, and in doing so, gives the participating artists the exposure they deserve, as evidenced by a prolific artistic practice.

Review, Abstract Workhorses Group Exhibition October 23, 2017

Review: Abstract Workhorses

April 29, 2017

By: Amy Haddad

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“Energy and motion made visible—memories arrested in space,” Jackson Pollock expressively wrote. On April 29 similar themes emanated from the exhibition, “Abstract Workhorses,” at Arts on Elston Gallery in Chicago. Visitors were immersed by Ken Hogrefe’s mural-sized painting, “On Arriving,” which contained rapid brushstrokes of paint; relished the dance of color in Christine Connor’s “Untitled;” slowed to contemplate Rebecca George’s “Atmung;” and grazed on the refreshments placed upon pieces of furniture made by Arthur Connor. The show underscored that art is not just about what you see, but what you feel.

“Abstract Workhorses,” comprised of abstract painting and furniture, featured four artists with decades of art practicing experience among them. Rebecca, who in 2012 founded The Art House, a professional studio school, has been painting for more than 30 years. Ken, a consultant and industry expert for DuPont, is a lifelong artist and Artist in Residence at The Art House. Christine has exhibited work in several group shows in Chicago and is also an Artist in Residence at the Art House; she has more than 25 years experience as a practicing artist. And Arthur began his art practice as a painter; now he makes furniture—an art medium in itself. Their experience gave credibility to the works displayed.

Start with the front gallery, where Ken’s “On Arriving” commanded visitors’ attention by size alone: it spanned an entire gallery wall. Energy emanated from swift brushstrokes of yellows, blues, and reds, with large white swathes atop; it was also visible in the canvas itself. Instead of laying flat against the wall, small folds throughout the canvas mimicked a gentle wave-like motion.

Adding to the conversation were several paintings by Rebecca and Christine that hung on the opposite half of the gallery. These pieces were smaller, but the effect was just as powerful. Some paintings, including Rebecca’s “In Congress with Myself,” confined the vitality of abstraction with a frame. Most notably, though, was her painting “Clandestine.” Its mostly darker color palette, exposed medium, and modest size proved to be the perfect complement to Ken’s painting. Together, they created a welcomed visual tension.

Progressing through the exhibition, the side gallery contained several abstract works that required deep thought. Here, visitors found canvases with thicker and darker strokes of colors. An aptly placed couch was an invitation to sit and think about this work.

Visitors were richly rewarded in the hallway, as they traveled between galleries. Here, two contributions from Christine stopped people in their tracks. “Untitled” was visually arresting: a framed painting contained staccato movements of pink, yellow, and black colors with a hint of glimmer. “Burgeon” was similarly composed. A soothing dialogue resulted between them.

The back gallery offered an amalgamation of abstract paintings by Ken, Christine, and Rebecca. Moreover, sprinkled throughout the show were pieces of Arthur’s furniture, including a bench and chest. Several pieces were intentionally abstract, Arthur said, and influenced by artists from the 1930s, such as Ben Nicholson and Louise Nevelson.

Arthur’s furniture served a crucial role by making abstract art relatable. Traditionally, people struggle with abstraction. It can be challenging to make sense of lines, drops, drips, or strokes of color on canvas. That said, mixing his furniture with abstract paintings created a home-like feel: visitors could picture living with abstract art.

The show’s abstract theme was helped by a plurality of voices. Individually, each artist conveyed their notion of abstraction differently, be it through color, medium, or scale, and thus gave visitors a breadth of interpretations of nonrepresentational artwork to consider. Collectively, however, they conveyed the power of abstraction: engaging the viewer to have their own personal experience.

The event was punctuated by two very talented guests who contributed their own art form to relate to the show: Amy Hogrefe of Maggie's Daughter catered the exhibition with inventive and delicious abstract artist-themed appetizers and desserts, while cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker graced attendees with a powerful and emotional performance. Clearly the hard work of all paid off as the show turned out over 100 guests during its five hour reception. 

Amy Haddad is a writer at BigTime Software. She is also a freelance writer and blogger. Read her blog, Art Diversions, at artdiversions.com. And follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.

Third Coast Review: Rebecca George April 27, 2016

Review of Turn the Other Eye, A Curated Art Party

By Arts Editor: Nicole S. Lane

April 20, 2016

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Rebecca George: Turn the Other Eye at the Arts On Elston

By Nicole Lane on April 20, 2016 •

He could tell by the way animals walked that they were keeping time to some kind of music. Maybe it was the song in their own hearts that they walked to.”

― Laura Adams Armer

The solo exhibition, Turn the Other Eye, which featured 75 pieces created by Rebecca George, and a n exhibition catalog with a foreword from art historian Virginia Voedisch, invited viewers to engage with the artists ability to work with various mediums and the strength in which she has to compose pieces in a multitude of styles. From more traditional and realistic, to figurative and abstract, George’s vast oeuvre from 2011-2016 is incredibly diverse, while her subject matter remains rooted in her compassion and connection to the relationship between animals and humans. Georges work is infiltrated with the theme of loss and its expressive nature is represented through painting, printing, drawing, and sculpture.

Sizes of the works in the exhibition varied between 2.75” x 3.75” to 60” x 50” and demonstrated George’s skill to work on differing scales and in an assortment of media. Nestled between paintings were small scale ceramic pieces that paid homage to her animals, her long-standing muses, her bunny’s. The 2D representations characterized the subject matter in an abstract sense, free-floating and translucent, while the ceramic pieces, for example, “Resting Pose,” gave the bunny’s a physicality and permanence.

The exhibition was not displayed chronologically, and rightfully so. George’s interest in animal life and human life is fused and therefore has no time stamp — her message remains the same. The curatorial decision to display the works based on aesthetics and subject matter completely spoke for itself, no matter the date in which it was created.

The more narrative based works from her earlier years included “Burial” which created a literal sense of loss and innocence. George’s recent works are abstracted, expressive, and blur the lines of the narrative that can be present in past pieces. Her definitive shift to working with splashes of color, large scale canvas, and translucence led the viewer towards a more gripping understanding of the artists transition. Her growth in her work is obvious.

In “Reveal Thyself” a collapsing subject encompasses the entirety of the upper horizon. The position is reminiscent of George’s earlier works where she repeatedly illustrated a figure in a fetal position, for example, in “Pentimento” and “Figuration.” In “Reveal Thyself,” George reminds the viewer of her haunting themes of loss and abandonment.

The piece “Qui Tacet Concentiure Viteur” which translates in Latin to, “He who is silent is taken to agree” was the most vivid work in the exhibition. The piece fused George’s past style to her current trends in more recent paintings. A cloaked figure stood in the center, hands exposed, with a layering of animals surrounding the individual. The subject pushed and pulled against the foreground and background of the work, which created an emotional dynamic of permanence, or lack of.

The exhibition opened at the Arts on Elston on April 15th and was on view until April 17th. View works from the Turn the Other Eye Collection.

Rebecca George is the director of The Art House and is an adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, Business of Artists.

Introduction to Solo Exhibition by Art Historian, Virginia Voedisch

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Upon first reading, the title of Rebecca George’s exhibition “Turn the Other Eye”  suggests a rejection, a turning away.  It’s true to some degree.  Her last show Have Many Rabbits was a farewell of sorts to her rabbit companions, assembling  a vast repertoire of paintings, prints and drawings celebrating the existence and mourning the loss of her brood of rabbits.  These works, many of which leading up to the work in the current exhibition,  demonstrate not only  George’s fluency in many media but a restless desire to capture the delicious and mysterious realm of animal life, to permeate the mystery that links us to animals but forever holds us as other. Living with an animal connects us more closely with nature, a double-edged sword that’s both life- and death-affirming. George’s visceral experience of loss and transformation powerfully revealed in a painting such as Covenant of Sorrow. The works that came after more deeply probe the issue of identity and transformation. Rebecca embodies this search in lush, figural paintings that coincide with her rabbit paintings.  Some like State of Being (Hard on Myself), present a sisterhood of selves shapeshifting in a setting of dream-inducing blues, recalling Paul Gauguin’s symbolist paradises or bearing loss literally imprinted on their bodies.  Cloaked figures haunt canvases evoking sepulchral visions as much as pupal coverings concealing the mysteries of metamorphosis.

In 2015, the passages of pure, expressive pigment found in the animal and figural paintings gave way to complete abstraction in a small but important body of work.  Distilling her painting down to its most basic, George poured and dripped paint, which she made from powdered pigment, onto large-scale canvases.  This period of free, dynamic expression free of narrative content served as a crucible of sorts, allowing her latest paintings to fuse content and form even more powerfully.

These works suggest a different reading of the exhibition title. A turning of the eye in the Biblical sense of acceptance and grace.  To embrace life’s inexorable flux, to look at it closely, passionately for what it is.  The Guardian is a wrenching dual portrait of a cat and figure. The cat is being held close to the figure but remains distinctly separate. Its cool gray and blue fur disconnected from the figure that exists in a ghostly realm of terracotta-scale canvases.    

Written by Historian for the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Voedisch and published in the exhibition catalog for Turn the Other Eye, Solo Show of works by artist Rebecca George.

Interview: Turn the Other Eye March 24, 2016

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Les Femmes Folles

Women in art

March 22, 2016 

Rebecca George, artist

Rebecca George was interviewed last year on LFF; and is featured in Les Femmes Folles: The Women, 2015 anthology; she comes back now with a solo exhibit opening April 15, 2016 from 6-11 PM at Arts on Elston Gallery in Chicago, to share with LFF about her studio practice and latest work in the show including collaborations, what it’s like to be an artist in Chicago and much more…

 1) How would you describe you studio practice?

It is important for me to not play it safe with my work - seeking opportunities to tune into and try new ideas without fully conceptualizing them beforehand has allowed me to remain in a state of becoming, where invention and discovery are balanced on the edge. At the same time, I’ve learned that I’m looking for myself in every piece. Not in a literal sense, but in terms of ultimately recognizing myself by revealing a truth in the work.


2) Tell me about your upcoming show/exhibit and why it’s important to you. what do you hope people get out of your work?

Turn the Other Eye, A Curated Art Party is a solo exhibit of nearly 200 pieces created in the past 2 years. The work spans large-scale to the intimate in painting, drawing and printmaking. I hope the work shares my experience of the sacredness of everyday life and the impact paying close attention to each moment has on recognizing that. We make choices and in making them, we eliminate the possibility of others for a time. Through my choices. I create the structure of my day to day experience: commitments, obligations, chores, habits, routine. The artwork is honoring what I’ve chosen by consciously presenting it as a mirror.

3) Does collaboration play a role in your work - whether with your community, artists or others? How so and how does this impact your work?

 For this exhibit I am collaborating with quite a few artists: Artist and Designer Beth Borum is designing the exhibition materials and gallery layout, Arthur Connor (director of Arts On Elston in Chicago, the gallery hosting “TURN THE OTHER EYE) and artists Christine ConnorMary Dorrell, JoAnn Hayden and Ken Hogrefe are co-curating the 6 room exhibit. Virginia Voedisch wrote an introduction to the exhibition catalog; an art historian and adjunct lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago, Ginny’s viewpoint on the body of work being presented in the show is intriguing and perceptive. I value their input and contribution very much - they are each thoughtful and skilled artists who work in multiple mediums and have witnessed my recent progression in the studio. Their influence is welcomed as I am confident in their insight and expertise.

4) Do you think you city is a good place for women in art/writing/etc? What do you think is the best thing about your city for artists, and how might it be improved?

Chicago, IL has a large numbers of alternative exhibition spaces for visual artists - people interested in curating, exhibiting and reviewing/interviewing visual art collaborate and provide opportunities to show work that don’t exist in the commercial gallery scene.

5) 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 you work?

 In the sense that I am a woman and I cannot separate my womanhood from my work, yes. Although being a women does not comprise the sole subject/content of my work. Feminism achieved so much for women artists, including space and freedom so they may move in and out of gender specific content, exploring other areas of self and the world with the established right of returning to it at any time.

6) 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 your favorite advice you have received or give?

That the path or journey of life is fluid and impermanent - “this too shall pass” flickers through my mind often, reminding me that I am always in a state of becoming. Not seeking an outcome or solid definition for my work keeps me focused on gaining and maintaining liberation in my practice.

www.TheArtHouse.us
www.Rebecca-George.com

~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.

Press Release, THE ART GUIDE March 9, 2016

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Rebecca George Solo Exhibition, Turn the Other Eye: A Curated Art Party

Visit Arts on Elston Gallery on April 15, 2016 to view a new solo exhibition of recent work by Chicago artist Rebecca George. Exhibition designed by Beth Borum. Co-curated by Arthur Connor, Christine Connor, Mary Dorrell, JoAnn Hayden and Ken Hogrefe. Live music by the Windy City Guitarists. 3446 N Albany, 6-11 PM. RSVP: ttoe@thearthouse.us.

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Rebecca George Published in Anthology February 2, 2015

About the Book

Les Femmes Folles' fifth annual anthology of art, writing and interview excerpts, Les Femmes Folles: The Women, 2015, presents a beautiful and moving physical record of the rich and stellar talent of creative women working today in all forms, styles and levels of art.

Featuring the work and writing about painting by Rebecca George.

Author website: http://lesfemmesfollesbooks.tumblr.com/

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

rbeccageorgegapersblock.jpg

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.