Hybrid animals, fossils and barnacles (oh my) are collectively reflected in the art of Jessie Mott and Rhonda Wheatley at the Hyde Park Art Center. This month marks the first time the two Chicago artists will showcase their work in solo exhibitions at the Center.

Mott’s paintings and renderings on paper of hybrid creatures can currently be seen in “A Wish to Repair,” as audio of the artist’s friends talking and Madonna singing can be heard. Mott, who is nationally known for her animated films with Steve Reinke, includes their new collaboration in the show as she explores themes of intimacy, beauty, anxiety and shame.

“We have seen Mott’s work grow and change from her time fresh out of graduate school to a ground-breaking artist,” says Executive Director Kate Lorenz. “It is a wonderful reminder of the unique role the Art Center plays in launching the careers of artists and in the small but mighty Chicago arts ecosystem.”

As such, the Center is also highlighting the work of sculptor Wheatley with the exhibition “A Modern Day Shaman’s Hybrid Devices, Power Objects, and Cure Books,” which includes a public reception with the artist on Sunday, Feb. 26 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Cleve Carney Gallery.

“Welcoming Rhonda Wheatley for her first solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center is an honor,” says Director of Exhibitions Allison Peters Quinn. “Rhonda has shown multiple times here in group shows and is an active and sought-after teacher in the Art Center’s classes. Seeing her growth as an artist reminds us of the unique and necessary role the Art Center plays in the lives and progression of Chicago artists.”

With her energy-themed assemblage-based pieces, Wheatley juxtaposes vintage electronics against natural materials including quartz crystals, fossils and barnacle clusters. The exhibition also features unstretched canvas works and altered books that address dreams and spirituality.

“My sculptures are imbued with healing intent and energy,” explains Wheatley. “Each object is also attuned to the combined symbolic meanings of my materials. I use titles to address the function of the works as contemporary artifacts, rather than ‘art objects,’ revealing how they may be used in spiritual and healing practices and by whom. My work is inspired by my dreams and mystical experiences and informed by metaphysics and spiritual traditions across African, African diasporic, Native American, and other cultures.”  Mott’s work will be on view through April 23; and Wheatley’s from Feb. 12 through May 7 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., in Chicago.

Wheatley will also participate in the Center’s Second Sunday family art activity on Feb. 12, 1-4 p.m.; “Write It Out: A Journaling Workshop,”on March 15, 6-8 p.m.; and “Excavating Myself & Eavesdropping on Your Future,” a performance including tarot card readings on April 24, 2-4 p.m.


(Top image: Jessie Mott, June, 2016 ink, colored pencil, and gouache on paper 16 x 12)

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.

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