The Beginning (Again): New Paintings by Chris Willcox

September 30 – October 30, 2016

Opening Reception: Friday, September 30, 7 – 9 pm
Chris Willcox in conversation with Christina Schmid: Thursday, October 6 at 7 pm

Having grown up in Canada, amidst the natural landscape and a rich tradition of Canadian landscape painting, Chris Willcox’s artwork is deeply imbued with romantic ideas of landscape as a sublime and endless open space. The focus of Willcox’s landscapes are those vistas which are steeped in historical tragedy or depict places that have fallen into disrepair. To conceive her work, Willcox has studied the lives of early Antarctic explorers and visited the battlefields of the First World War in France and Belgium. Spending time with these landscapes – when possible, walking on the land herself – her work embodies the eeriness locked into the land of these formerly decimated grounds, now tree-laden and pastoral. Figures are scant in this work, leaving the residual trenches, bridges, and ruins, as markers of human efforts and strife.

These painted landscapes allude to transitions in space and time: between daylight and twilight; life and death; past and present; and, perhaps, between realms of existence. This mingling of space and time is furthered by the multiplicity of shared pasts, consisting of those which relate to the historical traditions of landscape painting and those histories intrinsic to the locale of each painting. Past bodies of work depict “witnesses,” who step out of linear history and into a timeless age of storytelling. The pilgrims, messengers, and wartime deserters, guide us through their landscapes and tell stories about the looping narratives that are familiar to us all. In her current work, brightly colored landscapes show ruins, bunkers, and “leftover landscapes,” that signal postwar – or even post-apocalyptic – fears, the remnants of which are to be re-inhabited, rebuilt, or reimagined, by next generations. 

About Chris Willcox

Chris Willcox was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Willcox earned BFA degrees from the Ontario College of Art and Design and the University of Guelph, and earned her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Jersey. She moved to the Twin Cities in 2000 to accept a position at Macalester College in St. Paul, where she is now a tenured professor in the Art and Art History department. Her work has been shown at galleries within the United States and Canada, including the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) galleries at The Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Phipps Center for the Arts. She is the recipient of numerous grants, including Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council Grants, a George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship in painting, and Minnesota State Arts Board Grants.