CHICAGO —— This fall DePaul Art Museum will present exhibitions featuring surrealist artists who explore themes of finding freedom in oppressive contexts. "A Natural Turn: María Berrío, Joiri Minaya, Rosana Paulino, and Kelly Sinnapah Mary" will occupy the entire first floor of the museum, located on DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus. The second floor will feature the first solo exhibition for Chicago artist Krista Franklin in "Solo(s)." Ionit Behar curated both exhibitions, which open Sept. 8, 2022, and run through Feb. 19, 2023.
"The exhibitions are about self-love," said Behar, associate curator of DePaul Art Museum. "The artists provide an opportunity for imagination to take place, to find the beautiful while also remaining frank and unafraid of the real."
Surrealists redefining womanhood
"A Natural Turn" is a group exhibition with the works of four artists living in the Americas: María Berrío (Colombian, b. 1982), Joiri Minaya (Dominican-American, b. 1990), Rosana Paulino (Brazilian, b. 1967), and Kelly Sinnapah Mary (Indo-Guadeloupean, b. 1981). This exhibition will be the first time any of these artists will show their work in a Chicago museum. It is part of the museum's ongoing Latinx Initiative, which fosters representation and participation in museum exhibitions, collections and public programs.
The works on display —— paintings, works on paper, videos, photographs and installations —— depict fantastical creatures and otherworldly female characters. Using patterned Japanese paper and paint, Berrío makes intricate collages that invariably speak to female strength and the "outsider." Minaya's multi-disciplinary work challenges the Western caricatures of tropicality and "tropical" people. Paulino reinscribes the Black female body into the layers of Brazil's historical narrative, complicating engrained ideas of national identity. Sinnapah Mary's paintings and sculptures depict diasporic myths with a fairytale-like quality of magical enchantment and cruel brutality.
"Many have come to know surrealism through artworks by men from Western Europe, such as André Breton and Salvador Dalí," Behar said. "And while these artists desired to revolutionize human experience, they often did so at the expense of women. In contrast, the artists in 'A Natural Turn' call into question Western and Eurocentric standards of beauty, femininity and womanhood. They present imaginary journeys through the metamorphoses of bodies and a redefinition of what it means to be human."
Chicago collage artist thrives on collaboration
Simultaneously, Chicago-based artist Krista Franklin (American, b. 1970) presents "Solo(s)," an exhibition that draws on the artist's vast range of materials and references. Franklin's work intersects poetry, popular culture and the dynamic histories of the African Diaspora.
A surrealist at heart, Franklin's works on display will include books, poetry, collages, handmade paper, installations, murals, performances, sound works and sculptures. "The word 'solo' often refers to the performance of a single musician," Behar said. "Here, it highlights the artist's commitment to collaboration with fellow artists, writers and musicians."
Franklin creates collages from the text and images of vintage magazines and other printed matter she collects. The museum created a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue for "Solo(s)" featuring documentation of the artist's ongoing collage work, handmade paper, book and record covers, and installations alongside her poetry and other writings.
Public programs are set to be held in conjunction with both exhibitions. Franklin will perform with Ben LaMar Gay and have a public conversation about collaboration with artist Cauleen Smith. Behar will moderate a public conversation about making surrealist work today with Berrío, Minaya, Paulino and Sinnapah Mary. A Family Day program will include workshops, crafts and storytelling. A tarot reading program with adrienne marie brown is also in the works. Dates and details will be forthcoming on the museum's website at artmuseum.depaul.edu .
DePaul Art Museum is at 935 W. Fullerton Ave. on DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus. The museum is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission is free for everyone. Additional information is online or by calling 773-325-7506.