Sunday, April 16, 2023

EXPO CHICAGO 2023 - Humanity

Holly Wilson, Paper Wings: Fearless (detail), cast bronze with patina, 21 x 23 x 13” 

EXPO CHICAGO 2023—The tenth anniversary edition of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art—opened this weekend at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. The event includes artwork from more than 170 of the most prominent international galleries—featuring work produced by thousands of fine artists currently working throughout the world. Countries represented at the 2023 exposition include: Argentina, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe.

As I began to explore the exhibition, I found myself looking for common themes. Conceptual content was varied but the predominant subject was the human form. It seemed as though artists were tapping into our societal need to hold tightly to humanity. 

Holly Wilson, Paper Wings: Fearless, cast bronze with patina, 21 x 23 x 13” 

Holly Wilson’s Paper Wings: Fearless, seemed to set the tone for the work I was about to experience. The cast bronze sculpture presents a masked figure with wings as arms. Massive feet stabilize the form as it steps onto a beam which protrudes out into the world. But Wilson’s intention is much more significant than the beauty of the detailed surface textures. She points out our collective fear... The fear of the unknown—both that of the outside world and the inner mind. The mask hides our identity, for we lack the courage to take a leap of faith. Wilson points out that... “In that moment, we must be fearless to take the leap.” 

Timothy Cummings, Night Spirit of the Adriatic Sea, 2022, acrylic on panel, 24 x 18" 

As I continued through the show, I came across the work of Timothy Cummings, a self-taught artist represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery (New York). Cummings creates haunting surrealistic impressions that typically reference religious iconography, death, or martyrdom. The intimate and obsessively detailed images transport the viewer into a world where anything is possible. 

Cummings’ Night Spirit of the Adriatic Sea offers a single centralized figure bound in a foliage sarcophagus. An orb of warm light levitates above cupped hands and hovers in front of the heart. The figure is found at the waters edge as the sun is trapped behind repressive clouds directly overhead.

Alyssa Monks, Between Here and There, 2022, oil on linen, 43 x 63"

Finally, I found myself mesmerized by the classic work of Alyssa Monks and the other exhibiting artist of Forum Gallery. Monks’ painting, Between Here and There, presents the image of a woman in the protective posture of the fetal position. With her face expressing pure exhaustion and her body marred with plant life, she is presented as a manipulated object amongst a sterile background. Monks creates vulnerable intimacy through the powerful composition and classic rendering of the figurative form.

EXPO CHICAGO has much to experience. The exhibition continues through Sunday April 16 at 6pm. Tickets are $35 [$50 with tour]. Parking is available on site. For additional information visit:

HOLLY WILSON of the Delaware Nation, Lenape and Cherokee Nation is now based in Mustang, Oklahoma. In 2001, she graduated with an MFA in sculpture; in 1994, she earned an MA in ceramics from Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas; she received a BFA in ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1992. Holly Wilson is exhibited with the Center for Native Futures, a non-profit Native and Indigenous gallery space in the city of Zhegagoynak (Chicago)

TIMOTHY CUMMINGS was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1968 where he grew up in the midst of Spanish Catholic and Native American culture, fertile with religious imagery and iconography in the churches. Murals and retablos he saw depicting death, martyrdom, and Day of the Dead imagery influenced him. Cummings is completely self-taught. Timothy Cummings is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York.

ALYSSA MONKS was Born 1977 in New Jersey. Monks studied at The New School in New York and earned her B.A. from Boston College in 1999. During this time she studied painting at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence. She went on to earn her M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in 2001. Monks completed an artist in residency at Fullerton College in 2006 and has lectured and taught at universities and institutions worldwide. She continues to offer workshops and mentorships and lectures regularly. Alyssa Monks is represented by Forum Gallery, New York.