Stephanie Brooks: Tough and Sweet
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
January 16, 2009- February 28, 2009
Opening reception for the artist: Friday, January 16, 2009 5 - 7:30 pm.
Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to present “Tough and Sweet", an exhibition by Chicago-based artist Stephanie Brooks. This is Brooks’ third solo exhibition at the gallery. With this work, Brooks examines mythologies of love, loss, and mental illness; signs of affection; and the poetics of sentimentality and materiality.
The formal aesthetics of poetry and how figurative language describes affection and emotion is an ongoing investigation for Brooks, whose practice includes an archive and classification of metaphors.
For the lightbox sculpture “Metaphors for Love,” Brooks painstakingly combed through her extensive collection of poetry anthologies extracting metaphors for love from canonical love poems. These fragmented metaphors are combined with a universal symbol of affection: the valentine box of chocolates. Affect and affection are further explored with a pink neon sign “Triple X, XO.” Here, Brooks conflates two sign systems: the rated XXX symbols plastered outside strip clubs and emblazoned on pornography with the sweeter, yet all too banal XO (“hugs and kisses”), aligning the slight variation of these graphic symbols and their wildly disparate meanings.
Also included in this exhibition are “Plath/Woolf” and “Star Scape for Sylvia,” two works which were inspired by Brooks’ reading of The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (©2000, ed. Karen Kukil, Anchor Books). Deeply affected by Plath’s experimental writing, Brooks conducted research at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College, Northampton, MA which holds the majority of Sylvia Plath’s original documents including personal letters and journals. With “Star Scape for Sylvia,” etched zinc plates are cut to the size of the journal pages and painted, white on black– a small-scale simulation of the night sky. In these pieces, Brooks is able to pay tribute to Plath without solely relying on the buttressing of Plath’s mythology.
Stephanie Brooks currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and currently teaches sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include Tough & Sweet, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL, Distance Intimacy at University Galleries of Illinois State University, and I'm sentimental, Gahlberg Gallery, College of Dupage, Glen Ellyn, IL. Selected group exhibitions include City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs public commission in Grant Park, Public Address curated by Ellen Rothenberg, Phaize, Peter Blum, New York, Schalter, Berlin, Germany, and Whitewalls, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. A catalogue on Brooks’ work will be published by University Galleries of Illinois State University. Brooks’ work is included in collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, and the Microsoft Corporation in Seattle.