A surface layer of water molecules serves as the threshold between air and water—something to be skimmed or penetrated—it is the visual representation of something much deeper, yet it holds its own utility. Chicago-based artists Jaclyn Mednicov, Sammi Skolmoski, and Jenn Smith create surfaces of a similar nature. Through processes that explore the artists’ respective interests in memorialization, translation, and personal histories, the layered surfaces of their works embody conceptual depth within their tactility.
Jaclyn Mednicov is an MFA candidate in the Painting Department at SAIC. Mednicov’s practice involves an interest in humans’ inclination to memorialize people and events. She uses hand sanitizer to transfer images from paper onto drywall—the ephemeral to the concrete. Mednicov further manipulates the surface with processes ranging from a bubbling Alka-Seltzer treatment, to a dried flower emulsion, to hand carved deconstruction. These processes develop their own agency in that they cannot be totally controlled. The way memories become variations of the events they represent, Mednicov’s surfaces take the forms necessitated by internal and external influences.
Sammi Skolmoski is an MFA candidate in the Writing Department at SAIC. Her works revolve around notions of reading and translating. Skolmoski’s hand dyed fabrics are digitally embroidered with photographs of other hand dyed fabrics. Through the digitized process, the photographs of fluid cloudiness become rigid interpretations reminiscent of geographical maps. This translation of an improvised action through a systematized mechanism involves multiple iterations of reading, beginning with the photograph, read and interpreted by the embroidery machine and then read by the viewer.
Jenn Smith is an MFA candidate in the Painting Department at SAIC. Smith’s personal history growing up as an evangelical Christian in a small town is the thematic thread throughout her paintings. A struggle with how much to reveal in her works lead to the addition of color blocking, concealing the possibility of figurative narratives. The playfulness of Smith’s style is underpinned with this obscurity—from Smith being sheltered from knowledge of life outside of the Christian community, to an outsider’s inability to experience such circumstances. Smith’s paintings are attempts to explore a deeply complex identity through simplified shapes on a flat canvas.
Surface Layers is curated by Veronica Sines.