Jessica Campbell Exhibit at MCA - Humor Through Carpets
By Sarah Kamal
Jessica Campbell, a Canadian artist based out of Chicago, is known for her humorous and often satirical cartoons that touch upon serious issues occuring in society today. Her lighthearted illustrations clearly contrast with the profound complexity and gravity of the situations her work brings attention to, and creates a wholesome point of view that clearly expresses the factors influencing the situation. She touches upon various issues throughout her pieces, such as the amount of time people spend on their phones and how people are treated based on different aspects of their identity. In her newest display, Campbell primarily tackles issues of gender.
Campbell’s exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is her first individual exhibit to be displayed. Her gender-related theme is inspired by Emily Carr, a twentieth-century artist that also found motivation to create works of art based on gender related-issues. Both artists understand and sympathize with how women are perceived today, even though their works were created almost 100 years apart. Despite the decades that separate their artwork, both artists represent a deep understanding and sympathization on how women’s issues.
The walls of exhibit’s room are completely enveloped by carpeting. This diminishes the amount of noise in the room and allows for complete contemplation of the art. The exhibit supplies a short comic to follow along with each of the pieces. This, paired with the quiet surroundings of the exhibit, makes it easy to quickly become engrossed by the work hanging on the walls. One of her pieces, entitled “The Brutal Telling,” depicts a woman trying to create her own art but a man who is sitting in the chair beside her is touching her rear-end and objectifying her. This piece of art illustrates how difficult it is for women to create their own works of art without being seen as someone without worth. Outside of the exhibit, there are some charcoal re-creations of Carr’s work. Below it lies a full-size rug depicting nude women in different poses, which is meant to represent the objectification of women in art throughout history.
The exhibit as a whole provides viewers with a compelling look into the minds of creative and powerful women and allows them to perceive the world through their eyes. It is a refreshing a humorous view of the serious issues women face. The MCA is free to students 18 years of age or younger and also for all Illinois residents on Tuesdays. Campbell’s exhibit is on display until July 7, 2019.