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Dittmar Gallery Unveils "Tech Noire" Feb. 10 to March 16

Northwestern art exhibition examines black identity through digital and futuristic landscapes

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February 8, 2011 | by Judy Moore


"Do Androids Dream of How People Are Sheep?" by Krista Franklin
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Drawing inspiration from film noir, the digital age and contemporary surveillance culture, two Chicago-based artists explore black identity through a post-modern and “Afrofuturist” lens at an exhibition at Northwestern University this winter.

The exhibition -- “Tech Noire: The Art of Stephen Flemister and Krista Franklin” -- features the works of these two artists. It opens at the Dittmar Memorial Gallery Feb. 10 and runs through March 16. The exhibition and a 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 opening reception are free and open to the public.

The Dittmar Gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus.

Flemister and Franklin were prompted by ideas of the “digital eye,” film noir, speculative and science fiction literature, and the manipulation of identity in 20 mixed medium collages, paintings and sketches featured in the exhibition.

Flemister finds inspiration in modern technology and traditional studio arts. His paintings explore the parallels between low-resolution images and portraiture. Some of his most recent digitally inspired works about identity make use of images on the Internet or in video chat rooms. His mixed media piece, “noire query,” is a frontal visual of a public figure created from enlarged inkjet prints of facial elements altered with markings. Self-reinvention shaped by imagination and conspiracy are represented by an owl sculpture that hangs overhead. For more about Flemister, visit http://stephenflemister.com.

Franklin creates visual images that explore the historical and contemporary experiences, dream worlds and psychic landscapes of the black community. Her mixed media collages remix iconography and popular imagery of communities of color. Her visual work pulls inspiration from pop culture, history, and the glamour of television and celebrity in American culture.

Franklin’s mixed media collage “Do Androids Dream of How People Are Sheep?” is an Afro- futuristic imagining of an African android, and features a woman in profile who is both human and machine set against a background of tattered doilies. The collage plays on notions of the black body as laborer/machine. Her mixed-media multi-structured artist’s book, titled “etoile noire & the beauty machine,” pays homage to black celebrities and vintage advertisements for black hair and skin care products. For more on Franklin, visit http://www.kristafranklin.com.

For information on the “Tech Noire” exhibition, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or visit the Dittmar website at www.dittmar.northwestern.edu.