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In the Inez Greenberg Gallery...

Something to Say: Art as Commentary

Exhibiting Artists: John Ilg, Nikki McComb, and Jane Powers

January 5 – February 9, 2018
Artist Talk: Tuesday, January 30, 7:00 p.m.

The well-known art critic and author, John Berger, once said "I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour." (John Berger, Keeping a Rendezvous, 1992).

In “Something to Say: Art as Commentary” the work by exhibiting artists John Ilg, Nikki McComb, and Jane Powers are wonderful examples of Berger’s apt description of art as a social/political tool and force. They embody the power that the artistic voice can hold and important cultural messages that can be conveyed in a unique and memorable way.

John Ilg’s unexpected combination of 3D items and 2D imagery create starkly iconic objects that project a message with both psychological depth and a vivid physical presence. He starts with an abstract social/political/economic reality and from that creates a dynamically polymorphic ‘object’ – both clear and vague, confrontational, yet accessible.

Nikki McComb uses photographs and video to reach people from the street level to the legislative arena and to help provide communities an outlet where they feel safe enough to seek help, empowered enough to give help, provoked enough to work harder to unify, and unified enough to make change collectively through art.

Sculptor Jane Powers uses her art practice to investigate complexities within cultural, political and ethical issues in order to bring forward dialogue and questions about our choices as individuals and communities. Three main threads continue through her work: The culturing of the human body (specifically women’s bodies), the pervasiveness of violence in our culture between individuals as well as countries, and her fascination with the fast growing bio-medical field and its complicated ethical issues.

Together these three artists tackle complex, yet culturally current issues of the day. By using their unique creative voices they and their art help us form a ‘meeting place’ where dialogue begins.

Jeffrey Stenbom

From L-R: "Not Getting Better" by John Ilg, "Choices" (detail) by Nikki McComb, and "Bio-Medical Symbiosis" (side) by Jane Powers.

John Ilg received a BFA with highest distinction and an MFA from the University of Minnesota. He has been the recipient of grants and awards from the U of M, Jerome Foundation, Minnesota Artists Association and others. Ilg has participated in solo and juried exhibitions nationwide and has received many local and international awards. His work has been featured in print and broadcast media, both locally and internationally and has numerous references on the web. He operates a studio in downtown St. Paul. More of his work and complete biographical information can be seen here.

Nikki McComb’s public safety campaign titled #ENOUGH, uses art as a catalyst for change and social disruption. For seventeen years, McComb has applied her artistic interests and skills to working relentlessly in North Minneapolis and surrounding communities in youth and family achievement. In addition to being an art educator, she has organized exhibitions, including Art Is My Weapon, a program whereby local artists select decommissioned guns to then create new work for display. McComb is The Creative Community Coordinator at Pillsbury United Communities. She is also a 2017 recipient of The Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, a 2016 recipient of a Micro Grant for photography and a 2014 and 2015 recipient of several community leadership awards.

Jane Powers received her BFA in 1993 and her MFA in 1998 in sculpture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She works with a range of processes and materials from ceramics, cast iron, resin and rubber to electronics and embedded video. Powers has received several State Arts Board grants, an MRAC Next Step grant and a Forecast R&D grant. Her work has been exhibited in a solo show and numerous group shows locally and nationally. She lives and works in Minneapolis.