Hoarder's trash turns artist's treasure in exhibit

The newest exhibit at the NIU Art Museum explores hoarding and the culture of excess.
The newest exhibit at the NIU Art Museum explores hoarding and the culture of excess.

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University Art Museum will present Hoarding, Amassing and Excess, a group exhibition featuring work by 17 contemporary artists, from March 25 through May 3 in the Rotunda and South Galleries of the NIU Art Museum. A public reception will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3.

This exhibition explores the psychological, sociological and artistic impulses for accumulation, horror vacui, berserk collecting and excessive mark making.

For example, Chicago artist Jaclyn Mednicov uses the remnants of her father’s past as fodder for her artwork. When Mednicov’s father died, he left her the task of sorting through his seemingly endless hoard of papers, receipts and coupons. In her mixed media work, Mednicov assembles and stitches these personal artifacts together to process her lineage. In addition to her father’s possessions, she has repurposed her grandmother’s needlepoints in the creation of her artwork. Mednicov says she has come to view herself as “an investigator of lost and lived lives” and as a “curator of clothing, paperwork and tangles of unspoken truths.”

In addressing the concept of excess, Chicago painter Celeste Rapone revels in seductive surface appeal as she creates figures masked by wrapping paper and ribbon. Her compositions celebrate shiny spectacle, but also reference gluttony, as they overflow with the remnants of “store-bought, celebratory trash.”

A complete list of exhibiting artists includes Carrie M. Becker, Matt Davis, Robert Donley, Holly Fisher Sabiston, Mark Fox, Gary John Gresl, Hollis Hammonds, Guy Loraine, Jaclyn Mednicov, Martina Nehrling, J. Thomas Pallas, Celeste Rapone, Robert Reed, Jeff Robinson, Marjan Teeuwen, Michael Velliquette and Kristyn Weaver.

The Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, the "castle" on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Group tours may be arranged by appointment. More information can be found at

The exhibit is funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Friends of the NIU Art Museum; and the Dean’s Circle of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at NIU.

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