January 29th - March 7th
With work by: Eli Merritt and Roland Santana
Click here to watch the Mutations Virtual Artist Talk
Chicago artists, Eli Merritt & Roland Santana come together for ‘Mutations’. This exhibition seeks to explore the ever-evolving understanding of human interaction and perception of an environment. Their presentation of both two and three-dimensional works mediate a middle ground, inviting the viewer to wander in a place where the lines between mediums are blurred. Marks bounce around the canvases and onto the floor where they conglomerate to form hybrid objects.
Merritt's sculptures propose a world where nature and industrialism collide to create singular forms. Santana's minimalist paintings give a perspective to colors that surround us in contemporary living. This grouping of works by Merritt and Santana provide an opportunity to reflect on material as their instincts guide the way for these necessary object mutations.
Eli Merritt is a sculptor living and working in Chicago, IL. Using wood integrated with found objects, he constructs large, laminated objects that are then transformed into organic, fluid entities. His process involves merging opposing elements to create a single form. Underlying each piece is the desire to imply a meaningful, unified existence to inanimate matter, giving the objects permission to partake in an afterlife. His work questions the relationships between function and dysfunction, regard and disregard, want and waste. Merritt sources both materials and inspiration from junk yards and wood mills, as he looks to the anatomy and design of the large-scale machinery used on site.
Though he has been making and building things since childhood, Merritt's path to becoming a sculptor began after high school when he isolated himself for one year in a studio space in the small town of West Stockbridge, MA. With no phone or internet and little communication with the outside world, he spent his days experimenting with materials and making sculptures. It was this disconnection from the virtual world, along with solitary time and space, that he discovered his love for tactility and working with his hands. The body of work he created during this period led to representation by a gallery in Hudson, New York and, not long after, admission to SAIC's undergraduate program. Art school provided Merritt with an opportunity to refine his skills, push forth new ideas, and collaborate with colleagues and esteemed faculty members.
After graduating, he realized that he wanted to establish a community whereby he could help people achieve their creative goals. In 2019, Merritt opened The Chicago Makerspace, a fully-equipped, community-style workshop and individual studio spaces that serve and support artists and makers of all kinds.