With an eye toward the trials of environmental disasters, Chicago artists and married couple David Jones and Marilyn Propp are putting on a multimedia art exhibit at the LeRoy Neiman Gallery at Columbia School of the Arts.
The exhibit’s 14 pieces range from oil on wood panels to gum transfer on paper, and use machine parts as source material that they have re-contextualized into their own forms.
“Together our work sets up an ongoing dialogue and tension regarding our culture’s dependent but often uncomfortable relationship with industry,” said Propp. “In particular, it explores those which impact the environment, and its conflict with sustainability and the world’s ecosystems.”
Propp works with oil paint and ready-made objects, including wood, excess engine parts, and cloth. “I begin by cutting out irregularly shaped wood panels, and then use automatic writing, making gestural calligraphic marks that reflect the movement of my arm and body as I move across the surface of the panels.”
Her work depicts both the clash and the coexistence of the industrial world and the natural world. Her wood panels often focus on underwater scenes and intermingle ocean imagery and machinery.
“My work addresses the effects of ongoing disasters caused by carelessness or greed,” said Propp, citing the Gulf oil spill and the Fukishima nuclear plant disaster in Japan.
Jones uses automobile imagery and enlarges them using Xerox transfer and paper plate lithography. He said that his work evolved out of his fascination with the presence and cult around cars in
American culture. “My early experiences with building engines, taking and documenting road trips, photographing junkyards and now drawing on paper, bring the images and memories full circle,” Jones said.
Jones addresses the effects of human consumption—specifically the interaction between humans and machines. “In reality through excess consumption we are filling our places with broken machines, with dysfunctional cogs and wheels,” Jones said. “I see the drawings and prints as a metaphor for our own relationship with things, filling up space, entangling our lives and in time breaking down and decaying.”
Propp and Jones draw upon their environment to make art that is simultaneously social and highly personal, and have been touring universities in cities like Notre Dame, Indiana as a two-person show for the past five years. “We draw from similar sources, and often find ourselves using the same imagery, but this is not intentional, and probably occurs because we have been a couple for over 35 years,” Propp said.
The exhibit will be on display in the LeRoy Neiman Gallery until March 23.