"Complex Territory" Group Exhibition to Open at Giertz Gallery

"Complex Territory" Group Exhibition to Open at Giertz Gallery

Works by nine US artists explore imagery as a way to investigate ideas

The art exhibition "Complex Territory: Image and Appearance" opens Feb. 10 and will run through Mar. 24 at Giertz Gallery at Parkland College.
This exhibition includes nine contemporary artists who explore and create imagery as a way to investigate their ideas. Using a variety of methods such as historical research, mapping, found imagery, and landscape, they examine our relationship with complex imagery as it relates to the personal, the collective, and the unknown.
A reception for the artists will take place Thursday, Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will feature an artist talk by Hale Ekinci at 6:30 p.m. and music by the Cobra Lounge Trio. Ekinci will also provide a lecture about her artwork earlier that day, at 2:30 p.m. at the Staerkel Planetarium.
Exhibit participants comprise artists and faculty from the US including Paul Flippen, associate professor at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Co.; Adriane Little, associate professor of photography and intermedia at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Collaborative artists Casey McGuire and Mark Schoon, both associate professors at University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Ga.; and Thom Sawyer, a studio artist who spends his time in both New Mexico and Washington State. The four artists residing in Illinois include Peg Shaw, associate professor of art and design at Parkland College in Champaign; Chicago-based studio artist Michael Thompson; and Hale Ekinci, associate professor of art and design, and Whitney Sage, assistant professor of art and design, who are both faculty at North Central College in Naperville.
Drawing on the layers of history, transcultural identity, and gender, Ekinci paints and embroiders colorful family portraits. Domestic fabric surfaces like bedsheets set the stage for transfers of old photos from her Turkish heritage and her American husband. She obscures the bodies and faces with pattern and color; these families could belong to anyone or no one of a particular background. Using Islamic arts of ornamentation, she embellishes the images by painting over the patterns of the fabric and embroidering eclectic, at times gendered, cultural symbols like party hats or papal garments that add an element of humor when combined with carefully posed scenes. These scenes are then framed with customized, colorful crochet edgings—a nod to the old tradition of "Oya," a narrow lace trimming used on headdresses of women and household textiles, she explains.
"Similar to the way identity is constructed, through a heavily additive process adorned with a combination of symbolic patterns and densely layered imagery, my work explores the complexity of communication and translation—translation of culture, identity, tradition, and gendered labor," Ekinci said.
Two other artist lectures will feature during the exhibition run. The lectures are free and open to the public. Whitney Sage will speak about her work on Monday, March 2, at 3 p.m. in Lecture Hall C118. Sage is a native of the suburban Detroit area; the rich cultural heritage of Midwestern cities and their relevance to the American way of life are things that influence her artwork. "Midwestern cities are places of increasing cultural relevance with parallels to larger American struggles, big industry and suburban migration, leaving behind empty storefronts, ghostly architectural skeletons and scarred empty plots of land," she remarks. Throughout her career, Sage has continually depicted the city as subject matter to create an open dialog about tough histories and the lenses through which communities view one other.
The third artist presenter is Peg Shaw, who teaches photography and video at Parkland College. Her presentation about her work takes place Tuesday, March 10, at 10:30 a.m. in Lecture Hall C118. Shaw reflects on her interest in the making of images. "The beauty of images captured or created is that we can pass on what we witness and hope the intrigue continues for others," she said. "It is how we connect to people we may never meet. For me, looking back and looking forward is time coming full circle."
Giertz Gallery's fall hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. The gallery will be closed Feb. 27 for Professional Development Day and March 16–21 for spring break.
To find the gallery when classes are in session, we suggest using the M6 parking lot on the north corner of the campus. Enter through any door and follow the ramps uphill to the highest point of the first floor, where the gallery is located. The gallery windows overlook the outdoor fountain area.
Programs at the gallery are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Parkland College is a section 504/ADA-compliant institution; for accommodation, call 217/353-2337 or email For more information on the group exhibit, please call the gallery office at 217/351-2485 or visit
[Image: Hale Ekinci, Monument for Feisty Women of My Distant Land, mixed media, 52" x 80", 2017]

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