Rockford Art Museum’s inaugural Made in the Midwest exhibition features the Elgin, Illinois painter Angelina Diana.
Within Diana’s dense and flourishing compositions, her undulating brushstrokes accumulate to foster a delicate forested ecosystem of flora and paint devoid of any hints of civilization. Using epoxy resin, the artist creates a series of planes in which layers of her paintings are permanently suspended. By populating her compositions with a mix of forms from the natural world, and a swarm of organic shapes and linework, her paintings complicate the relationship between her Representational and Abstract influences.
In ecological conservation, the term rewilding refers to the process of creating conditions in which natural processes can begin to revitalize land that had been previously disturbed by human interaction. One thing that distinguishes rewilding from more traditional forms of conservation, is that rewilding isn’t solely geared towards returning natural lands to their condition prior to human devastation. Instead, this process is open to new possibilities and often yields unpredictable but desirable outcomes.
Diana’s work, in a way, is a rewilding of Abstract Expressionism, not only in its subject matter, but also conceptually. As a movement, Abstract Expressionism was profoundly preoccupied with the human condition. It largely fixated on the emotional state of the painter and society’s collective psyche in the post-World War II era. The rise of this New York-based art movement also coincided with a period of industrial optimism and ambition that led directly to the climate crisis the Earth and its inhabitants face today. Through this body of work, Diana presides over a profound changeover, one where a lauded and profoundly humanistic movement begins to break down, giving rise to a lush, colorful world that has learned to thrive in our absence.
Made in the Midwest is a brand-new exhibition series spotlighting recent works of art from individual regional artists. These intimately-sized solo exhibitions will examine the methods and meaning behind their exhibited works, and provide a vivid snapshot of each artist’s current practice. Each exhibition will feature in-gallery programs, offering museum visitors the opportunity to ask questions, witness new processes, and get to know the artists who are making thoughtful and novel contemporary art in the Midwest.
The Made in the Midwest series is organized by Rockford Art Museum Collections Curator, Frances Downey