THIRST: works by Lea Basile-Lazarus, Tamara Wasserman, and Cynthia Weiss explore the role of artist as activist

“THIRST” is a group exhibition of work by Lea Basile-Lazarus, Cynthia Weiss, and Tamara Wasserman. The artists address themes of climate insecurity, social justice, and the role of the artist as an activist for change. On view through December 7, an opening reception will take place on Friday, November 1, 6-9PM.

Thirst is ragged and unslakable. To thirst is to hope. To hope is to seek, to make anew, to live.  Basile-Lazarus, Wasserman, and Weiss address the human need for hope and meaning through their work. They seek to find form and content that can create space for a common ground and a shared cultural experience, inviting us to imagine the possibilities of the world we want to live in.

Overcast, Monotype, 38″ X 24″ by Lea Basile-Lazarus

Lea Basile-Lazarus works with an expressive layering of images that emphasize her sense of interconnectedness between the individual in relation to society, and the artist in relation to her art.

Themes of social justice, community action, and empowerment are apparent in the repeating motif of house-like symbols and stoic figures which emerge in both her multiple layered monoprints and pigmented paper pulp paintings. “Overcast,” has the feeling of coiled protest. House shapes clamor for the surface, layered with and agitated by the passage of a cacophonous, silvery white line. The strength and fluidity of the paper medium become representative of the strength of people acting in solidarity.

Pictured: Overcast, Monotype, 38″ X 24″ by Lea Basile-Lazarus

Tamara Wasserman rejects labels for her work. Her paintings, which walk a loosely sketched line between abstraction and figuration, are inspired by memories, dreams, and the world around her. Wasserman’s exploration of internal and external experience is approached with a mixture of confidence and whimsy.

In “Drunk by Midnight,” the time and space of the evening are re-imagined within the two-dimensional plane, progressing from bubbly effervescence to chaos and self-doubt. Figures in time overlap and redefine each other, intense explosions of color appear only to be subsumed by the next stroke of paint.

Pictured: Drunk by Midnight, Mixed technique on paper, 33″ x 25″, by Tamara Wasserman

Drunk by Midnight Mixed technique on paper 33" x 25" 2018

Cynthia Weiss creates a physical and philosophical world in the process of becoming. The natural world takes center stage in these often large-scale cut and painted paper collages. Dreamy, saturated washes of color are the backdrop for Weiss’ detailed X-acto blade depictions of plants and landscapes. In “Circadian,” a close-up of a plant or flower sways against a darkening phthalo blue sky. Looking closer, we see that the paper creating the plant form contains a record of seasonal planetary revolutions. Beyond the plant form, another cut paper piece emerges, its black lacy form both macro and micro-cosmic. This form seems to have arrived with the purpose of telling us something, like an actor who turns to face her audience to illuminate the unseen.

Pictured: Circadian, Painted and cut-paper, 41” x 22” by Cynthia Weiss

New islands of self-awareness and self-liberation are appearing, and the connections between them, which were once so brutally disrupted, are multiplying…

Something is happening in the social awareness, though it is still an undercurrent as yet, rather than something visible… And all of this brings subtle pressure to bear on the powers that govern society.”

Václav Havel, Czech Playwright Turned Dissident Turned President, on “hope”

About the Artists:

Lea Basile-Lazarus

Lea Basile-Lazarus

Lea Basile Lazarus received her BA in Art Education from The College of New Jersey and her MFA, with a concentration in Printmaking, from the School if the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been teaching for over 20 years.

Lea has been a recipient of a Teacher Fulbright trip to Japan, spending three weeks abroad learning about Japan’s culture, art, and education system. And through a non-profit organization called Do Your P’Art, Lea was sent to Africa to visit Ghanaian schools and villages. These experiences have affected the images that she has created over the years.

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Tamara Wasserman

Tamara Wasserman

Tamara Wasserman was born in Riga, Latvia, and raised in Israel where she graduated from the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem and moved to the US shortly after. Tamara is a visual artist and performer with a studio at the Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago. She travels extensively and is inspired by many cultures and geographies.

Tamara’s current work can be best described as Emotional Cubism or Femme Cubism. Tamara has exhibited in galleries of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Tel-Aviv, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tamara’s art is in private collections in the US, England, Switzerland and Israel.

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Cynthia Weiss

Cynthia Weiss

Cynthia Weiss is an artist, educator, and a leader in the field of arts integration and creative youth development. She was the previous Director of Education at Marwen, a program that provides free arts courses for Chicago youth from under-resourced communities, and Project AIM, (Arts Integration Mentorship) at Columbia College Chicago.

Cynthia has directed numerous public mosaic projects throughout Chicago that transform neglected spaces into local landmarks. She has been awarded numerous residencies at Ragdale and the School of the Art Institute’s Oxbow Program. Ms. Weiss holds an MFA in Painting from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a member of the Chicago Public Art Group.

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