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Hoarders occupy Northern Illinois University Art Museum

Through May 23rd, Hoarding, Amassing, and Excess is on view at the Northern Illinois University Art Museum in DeKalb, Illinois. The exhibition brings together the work of 17 artists who, according to the Gallery Notes, ‘… practice or explore compulsive accumulation / organizing, excessive mark making or berserk collecting.’ Thus the exhibition explores themes of hoarding as therapy, loss compensation, compulsion, psychological and sociological exploration, methodical and obsessive making, cataloging, and archiving, and the inability to let go. With such broad topic parameters and the large number of artists included, the exhibition is inevitably somewhat uneven but several artists clearly deserve a closer look.

Exhibition poster for Hoarding, Amassing and Excess, poster design by Brad Vetter
Peter Germonpre

Guy Loraine’s work in the exhibition is by far the most structured and obsessively methodical. His large mixed media installation titled Fuller & Grand is the visualization of a 3-year project (2009-11) to painstakingly collect and record the exact location of every cap and acorn dropped by a single oak tree. The artist devised a rational system for mapping, numbering, collecting, cataloging, documenting, and storing of the acorns based on a 66 square foot grid made up of two foot squares made of Mylar and encompassing the oak tree’s circular drip line. Loraine made simple notation of found caps and acorns on these sheets using circles and numbers. In the studio, Loraine translated these notes into graphite drawings showing all caps and acorns found in the quadrant. The gallery installation abstracts this circular drip line by placing a sampling of the sheets on the gallery wall in rectangular format. The table in front has Loraine’s ledger books, allowing visitors to explore his entries, and the large open boxes contain collected acorns and caps in numbered bags, as well as the Mylar sheets with simple notations recording numbers of caps and acorns. Loraine works in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jaclyn Mednicov’s Life Map tells a deeply personal tale with the artist using her father’s hoard as the building blocks of the installation as a way for her to come to terms with his years of obsessive collecting. She rips, cuts, and stitches scraps of textile and paperwork into large compositions, the largest component in her installation made of hundreds of stitched together pizza coupons. Mednicov is a Chicago based artist.

Gary John Gresl’s Palimpsests & Middens is a site specific installation in which Gresl creates a space for nostalgic contemplation triggered by seeing objects that clearly have lived a rich past of practical use, as well as faded printed materials. The objects he chose to include; animal skulls, arrows, guns, farm implements, pin-up posters and calendars, … are suggestive of a rustic and rugged rural man cave. As the visitor engages this work by physically entering the installation, one is fully surrounded by objects and is invited to create personal narratives, thus forging new “realities.” Gresl is part of the rich rural Wisconsin scene of self-taught and folk artists. He lives in Brown Deer and has been creating assemblage sculptures for four decades.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Illinois. The museum is open and free to the public, hours are Tuesday-Friday 10:00-5:00 and Saturday 142:00-4:00

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