Gallery Hours: TUE + THURS, 11AM-6PM | Thursday 1/26 the gallery will close at 5PM

Collection: NEWTOK: Seen and Unseen

SEEN AND UNSEEN is an exhibition of paintings and prints by Chicago-based artist, Jennifer Cronin, documenting the effects of climate change in the Alaska Native Village of Newtok.


Newtok is a remote Alaska Native village situated on the Ningliq River, near the west coast of Alaska. Although a very remote and quiet place, Newtok has come face-to-face with climate change. Due to a combination of thawing permafrost, low levels of sea ice, and strong storms, the land of Newtok is eroding dramatically. The village is currently in the process of relocating to a new site called Mertarvik, which will be safe from this climate change-caused erosion.

In 2016, visual artist Jennifer Cronin embarked on a trip to Newtok to document this changing landscape. Upon returning, she spent the next several years developing a series of paintings and screen prints titled Seen and Unseen that captured this eroding landscape. Known for her large-scale realistic paintings, Cronin brought an eye for detail to her renderings of Newtok. Meticulously painted landscapes unravel as they disappear into a wispy haze of white paint. Screen prints, which at first glance appear to be nothing more than blank pages, gently beckon the viewer as they slowly reveal the subtle details of a landscape at the edge of existence. All of this work points to the serene beauty of Newtok, while simultaneously bringing to light its extreme vulnerability. “These paintings were my attempt to capture this disappearing landscape, and give viewers a space to connect with this landscape and contemplate its loss,” says Cronin.

In 2019, Cronin and musical Artist Patrick Mitchell (a/k/a Dusty Patches) began discussing the project after Cronin asked him to perform at the 2019 Gallery opening for the series. As a result, Mitchell created an album inspired by the Seen and Unseen series and the story of Newtok. Mitchell composed all of the constituent musical elements of the work and then recorded and live mixed the album during a single live performance on modular synthesizer.

About Newtok, Mitchell says:

This record was an exploration of themes. When faced with the immense canvases Jen Cronin produced upon her return from the village of Newtok, one can't help but feel awe. With the sheer size of the works towering above you, you are compelled. There is overwhelming beauty, desolation, a sense of urgency, and a sense that it is, in fact, far too late. These visual themes, and the emotions they evoke, were connected to the sounds and compositions of this record. There is a coldness to the digital soundscape, but organic sounds of nature and humans tether and steer the album through a journey of musical storytelling.

Newtok captures life in the Anthropocene, both in its beauty and its complexity.

 

ABOUT JENNIFER CRONIN:


Sometimes starkly real, and other times other-worldly, Jennifer Cronin’s style of captivating realism pulls the viewer into the world of her artwork. From exploring inner psychology to highlighting income inequality, Cronin is constantly exploring what it means to be a human living in this time. Cronin has exhibited widely in Chicago, as well as nationally and internationally. While working on her latest series, Seen and Unseen, Cronin was awarded a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation and a fellowship from Vermont Studio Center. Cronin studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning her BFA in painting in 2009. She lives and works in Chicago, and is represented by Elephant Room Gallery and [salonlb.].

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  • Seen and Unseen (Newtok #12)
    Jennifer Cronin original oil painting
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  • Seen and Unseen (Newtok #8)
    Jennifer Cronin original oil painting
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  • Seen and Unseen (Newtok #5)
    Jennifer Cronin original oil painting
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  • Seen and Unseen (Newtok #11)
    Jennifer Cronin original oil painting
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  • Seen and Unseen (Newtok #10)
    Jennifer Cronin original oil painting
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