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A series of new works to hang within a skylight, upon 60 feet of street facing windows, and up a 40 foot wall in Hyde Park.
A series of new works to hang within a skylight, upon 60 feet of street facing windows, and up a 40 foot wall in Hyde Park.
18 backers pledged $541 to help bring this project to life.
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Mama's Hand: An Exhibition by Mom/Artist Kara Cobb Johnson



To professionally exhibit the body of work created over the past 5 years along with new installation works to hang in the entryway skylight and on the 53rd Street second floor windows of The Polsky Center at The University of Chicago.  

This project began when I painted 4 large 22” x 33” watercolors en plein air of the landscape at Ragdale’s Shaw prairie with funds for a special residency from an Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grant.   While on site, I also painted 6 smaller 10” x 14” watercolor sketches and completed many graphite sketches contained in a large format sketchbook.  From these works, I created 7 conceptual color field works in acrylic on wooden discs and then created pattern works via Spoonflower website using the wrapping paper custom print feature and then affixed the professionally printed designs onto wooden discs as part of the series. 

Further, I blew up portions of the smaller sketches into 3 18” x 18” abstract watercolors.  After hole punching color copies of the landscapes and rearranging the holes to infuse actual space, an idea I came up with while researching the works of George Inness, I created many installations of landscapes that can be displayed going up and onto the ceiling of a space and surrounding the viewer.  I examined the impact a sphere can make in both aluminum foil and paper clay sculptures.  I examined the physical attributes of pigment frozen into spheres when melted and then dried.  To display this work as a “live melt”, I designed and commissioned a unique “shable” (or flat screen table) that sways from wires attached to a ceiling while ice melts and dries upon it.   

It is important to show these works in this space and create new installation works to push my practice and inform viewers about the importance of exploring different iterations of an idea.  

During this specific time in my career because this is a culmination of many years work.  It would give me a springboard for the works to come and the ability to introduce myself, my perspective and my practice to the public.  Chicago can get to know my work in the same way I have helped introduce and champion the work of other artists colleagues through curation projects I have directed throughout Chicago in the past 5 years.   

If possible, I aim to show young children with hearing impairment my work because it is simple in shape, but vibrant in color.  I plan to invite a sign language interpreter to the opening to share my words directly as I introduce and explain the impetus for each work to the public. 

This exhibition will inform my professional network about my work, introduce my work to children who may respond to it in a unique way, and enable me to learn about a new audience.  I want to show this body of work as a complete chapter in my artistic life show the unique methods I employ to different mediums. 

Risks and challenges

Risks and challenges are completely embedded in the actual installation process. Creating this work at the height and volume that it requires to be successful will take time and patience. I plan to overcome the risks and challenges of installing at such a height by having a backup plan of hiring scaffolding if need be. Also, I am creating all parts out of light materials and in modules. Framing the watercolors also poses specific challenges because some of the works are so large. I intend to use extra crossbars to strengthen the frames for those works.

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