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Dittmar's 'Hub' Exhibition Focuses on City's Activity Center

Room-size drawing installation to reflect fast-paced urban cityscape

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December 5, 2013 | by Judy Moore
“HUB,” artist Amanda Burnham site-specific drawing installation, will be on view at the Dittmar Memorial Gallery from Jan. 10 through Feb. 9.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Artist Amanda Burnham’s “wall drawings” call attention to the ever-changing composition of American cityscapes and their simultaneously beautiful and discordant attributes. The Baltimore-based artist will visit Northwestern University’s Evanston campus in January to create her first site-specific Chicago area installation.

The room-size “HUB” exhibition will draw from the energy of the Evanston and Northwestern landscape. It runs from Jan. 10 through Feb. 9, at the Dittmar Memorial Gallery, located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive. The exhibition and an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, are free and open to the public.

“I will arrive in Evanston in early January with pre-made raw material with which to stage the Dittmar piece on-site,” the artist said. “I like to respond actively to a space once I’m in it, as well as to the built environment of the surrounding community.”

Burnham’s upcoming Northwestern art project will likely envelop the walls and possibly part of the floor and ceiling to engage the attention of viewers.

She often reuses components from previous works. Once on site, however, she works from a day to a week to assemble the pieces in relation to the space in which she finds herself. Her final works sprawl across the entirety of a gallery’s space and are often quite large.

Using a brush dipped in thick black paint, she makes bold, expressionistic line drawings of windows, doors, signs, awnings and buildings on rolls of drawing paper, smooth brown wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and other everyday materials. She then cuts these pieces apart, often folding or crumpling them for added dimension, and collages them together on the walls and floor, or suspends them from the ceiling of a gallery space. Sometimes she lights these constructions to create dramatic shadows.

“The result is a massive, three-dimensional, dynamically organized drawing that viewers can walk into and experience from within,” the artist said. “Though it is not always my intent to capture a portrait of a specific city, I enjoy responding to the particularities of the landscape and will certainly make and incorporate drawings that directly allude to Northwestern’s surroundings.”                          

Burnham is an associate professor in the department of art and design, art history and art education at Towson University in Baltimore, Md. Her work has been exhibited extensively at venues that include Switzerland’s Volta Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art in Wilmington, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Conn., the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, the Artisphere art space in Arlington, Va., the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the Cranbrook Institute of Art in Bloomfield, Mich. For more on the artist click here.                      

For more information on the exhibition, contact the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, email dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or visit Dittmar Gallery