Color photo shows the torsos of two people standing. both are in jeans, one wears a blue shirt, the other a yellow, and their arms are hooked through one another.
Barbara Crane, Untitled from the series Private Views, ​1980–84/2009 Credit: Courtesy DePaul Art Museum

What narrative can we tell of a fractured life when gleaned through the nature of the anthropogenic? Possibly a fragmented story of being. “Life Cycles,” a group show curated by Ionit Behar at the DePaul Art Museum, gathers more than 50 artists in various mediums whose work shares a common border in exploring subjectivity through the appendages of life. 

The exhibition is enveloped by experiences stemming from petropolitics, erasure, and tradition, to forms of longing, time, daily grievances, and healing. The photographs on view function as casts for the poetic changes in the body, or repressive crafted roles; they also serve as depictions of tender interior moments, or performative documentation.

Oil painting shows a hazy forest scene, with a bright orange dot in the center. To the left, right, and bottom of the frame, a fire burns.
Elsa Muñoz, The Great Turning, 2022
Credit: Tom Van Eynde

Curatorially, the works offer a potential inherent relationality that gives way to their innermost nature of meaning. A flower stem collected from a cemetery and delicately covered in dandelion stems (Selva Aparicio’s, Auto-de-Fé (Act of Faith)) can further conjure regeneration, death, and time passing through an ever-changing drawing adjacent to it (Alberto Ortega-Trejo’s Cuando no nos dan fiebres, nos dan dolores en los huesos (When they don’t give us fevers, they give us pains in the bones)). Similarly, a painting capturing a forest burning (Elsa Muñoz’s The Great Turning) evokes forms of climate catastrophe, loss, and wounds, as well as transformational pains within the everyday (as in the works of Laurel Nakadate’s 365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears and Andrea Carlson’s Ancestor and Descendant). Arguably all the works allow for a journey of understanding, which unfolds a matrix of spatial affective sapience—all the works, as you move through each space, provide temporary views into the shadows of reality. “Life Cycles” paces through fleeting moments and through the storms of the everyday.

“Life Cycles”
Through 2/11: Wed-Thu 11 AM-7 PM, Fri-Sun 11 AM-5 PM, DePaul Art Museum, 935 W. Fullerton,, free

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