In celebration of Doane College’s newly renovated Learning Commons and Rall Gallery spaces, this exhibition highlights the strange task of updating a space for needs that original architects could not have imagined. In RETROFIT, painters Anders Johnson, David Linneweh, and Melissa Wilkinson construct compositions that update familiar or historical subject matter, forcing subjects’ original and contemporary contexts to fit together.
Melissa Wilkinson’s Frontier Series pairs an underlying desire for exploration and expansion of civilization with the awe and anxiety of actual survival in an uncharted or otherworldly landscape. Her compositions are peppered with images from cinema and newscasts. Recognizable subjects emerge, but disintegrate into abstraction. Wilkinson uses these familiar images to ground us, but also to speculate how images produced by our prophetic imaginations might serve us when confronted with realities of new places, spaces, and technologies.
Anders Johnson playfully combines historical locations, actions, and agendas with current events -- and occasionally with his own personal history. The perspectives in Johnson’s compositions position us, his viewers, as actors in each scenario; we are in the driver’s seat and behind the bar. With this primary role, we are tasked to make sense out of each painting’s many clues, and piece together a retrospective narrative about history gone awry.
David Linneweh documents a significant economic shift in America’s suburban landscape. The artist paints chain restaurants, gas stations, and businesses that once represented the growth of the middle class during “America’s Century.” In Linneweh’s version, the emblematic shapes and colors of these iconic structures remain but are overwhelmed by decades of age, disrepair, and increasing irrelevance, all signaled by his fractured space and use of transparency. According to art historian Angela Reinoehl, Linneweh’s paintings demonstrate that “the progress of the 20th century appears to have fallen off the 21st-century cliff.” To counter this pessimism, the artist's small scale and careful hand demonstrate a real care for his subjects.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Melissa Wilkinson earned her MFA at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and is Assistant Professor at Arkansas State University. Anders Johnson received his MFA from Indiana University, and is an Instructor at Vincennes University. Dave Linneweh earned an MFA at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, teaches at College of DuPage, and founded StudioBreak.com, an artist interview podcast.