NPR Illinois is sponsoring an art show displaying the work of local artists Felicia Olin and Mehr Tumulty. The show, titled Of Dreams & Nightmares is Friday, October 26th from 5:00 to 9 at The Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space . It will feature pieces that capture imagery from people's wildest dreams and, perhaps, most vivid nightmares.
Olin draws inspiration from fairytales and childhood experiences. Much of her work features women and animals. Olin said this is because her work now carries over from what she drew as a child.
"I take a lot from Alice in Wonderland and things from childhood," said Olin.
Olin said that when she looked for pieces for the exhibition, she focused on finding works that are dreamlike or whimsical.
"The nice thing about shows, is that you're seeing a lot of pieces at once. I always like when people come in and they're engulfed in the work and they get it because they're in it," said Olin.
"When I was a kid I never drew boys. All of my rabbits and skeletons are boys, but not the people unless it calls for it."
Olin is known for her huge, dreamlike works and portraits, but also spends a lot of time painting small pieces that she often gives away or hides for passersby to happen upon.
"For a while, I was painting rocks and hiding them." Said Olin, "Sometimes you hear back from the person and it just gives you kind of a nice feeling when someone says 'Oh! I found it!'"
Olin knew from a young age that art was her passion. "My teachers could never get me to stay on task to do anything but art. It was never a question of 'What am I going to do with my life?'. It was always art."
Mehr Tumulty's work could be described as "creepy," but the ghostly aesthetics are only skin-deep. The artist says his work portrays strong emotions that may otherwise be difficult to explain.
"There are these subconscious bonds you build with people when you make emotionally driven art." Said Tumulty, "You can communicate with people more easily that way. I like that connection on a mental health level and a life level. I like those connections the best."
Tumulty's process is one of spontaneity more than calculation.
"I don't think my inspiration is very traditional. I paint a lot of just what I feel I need to paint and I don't really know specifically where a lot of it comes from, but it's just something I feel like I need to do."
Tumulty said his pieces can come from spur-of-the-moment inspiration. His work reflects how he feels when he is painting.
"Really, at any given time that I feel like I need to work on something, I just work on stuff and when it ends up being what it is at the end, I guess that's when I know that's what I was going to paint."
The characters Tumulty creates are more than just paint on canvas - to him, they come to life.
"I do feel like, when I make them, they are living things. When they're on my walls and I'm getting ready for shows, I feel like I've got company with me. They kind of take on personalities."
While Tumulty's work may seem otherworldly, his childhood inspiration is one most households would be more than familiar with.
"My mom stayed at home with me before I hit Kindergarten, so I got a lot of time in front of PBS. I got to watch Bob Ross every day and I painted with Bob Ross and I think that was definitely when I fell in love with art." Said Tumulty with a laugh, "It's kind of funny about Bob Ross being kind of my biggest inspiration in the arts, but I can't lie. You feel better about yourself after watching Bob Ross for a half hour."
Both Olin and Tumulty's work seeks to capture the imagination of the viewer. See them for yourself at the upcoming show Of Dreams and Nightmares.