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Editorial: Features
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Rhonda Wheatley
Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen


Rhonda Wheatley, "Dream Journeying Device," 2017, vintage clock radio, two vintage film cameras, vintage camera, vintage vacuum tube, quartz crystal cluster, goat horn, pyrite chips, and crystal grid, 12 x 22 x 22". Photo by Robin Dluzen

Continuing through May 7, 2017

Viewing Rhonda Wheatley’s work is a different experience from what we typically encounter in a gallery exhibition. In “A Modern Day Shaman’s Hybrid Devices, Power Objects, and Cure Books” the Chicago-based artist presents a range of sculptures combining found objects and vintage appliances with organic material such as succulent plants and crystals in symbolic arrangements. For each of Wheatley’s pieces, a descriptive title and tag explains how the objects are to be used: an altered record player restores the soul and rewires the brain; a vignette of cameras, clock radios, quartz and goat horn promotes “self-understanding” through dreamstates.

Wheatley’s texts suggest intimate interaction with these objects, though posted signs in the gallery forbid actual touching. Therefore, a viewer must imagine how these machines work and what the sensations would be like, should they actually perform these transformative events. Wheatley’s metaphysical intentions are quite genuine, but they can only take place via each viewer’s own decision to engage in her spiritual realm. With most artworks, viewers use logic and emotion to derive meaning from what they are seeing. In Wheatley’s works, intuition and faith are the processes through which these pieces fulfill their objectives.


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