Stephanie Brooks‘ new solo exhibition Tough and Sweet, is now on view at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago. With this work, Brooks examines mythologies of love, loss, and mental illness; signs of affection; and the poetics of sentimentality and materiality.
The formal aesthetics of poetry and how figurative language describes affection and emotion is an ongoing investigation for Brooks, whose practice includes an archive and classification of metaphors. For the lightbox sculpture Metaphors for Love, Brooks painstakingly combed through her extensive collection of poetry anthologies extracting metaphors for love from canonical love poems. These fragmented metaphors are combined with a universal symbol of affection: the valentine box of chocolates. Affect and affection are further explored with a pink neon sign Triple X, XO. Here, Brooks conflates two sign systems: the rated XXX symbols plastered outside strip clubs and emblazoned on pornography with the sweeter, yet all too banal XO (“hugs and kisses”), aligning the slight variation of these graphic symbols and their wildly disparate meanings.
Also included in this exhibition are Plath/Woolf and Star Scape for Sylvia, two works which were inspired by Brooks’ reading of The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. Deeply affected by Plath’s experimental writing, Brooks conducted research at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College, Northampton, MA which holds the majority of Sylvia Plath’s original documents including personal letters and journals.
Stephanie Brooks currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and currently teaches sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include Distance Intimacy at the Illinois State University Art Museum, Normal, IL, and I’m sentimental, Gahlberg Gallery, College of Dupage, Glen Ellyn, IL. Selected group exhibitions include City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs public commission in Grant Park, Public Address curated by Ellen Rothenberg, Phaize, Peter Blum Gallery, New York, Schalter, Berlin, Germany, and Whitewalls, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Brooks’ work is included in collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, and the Microsoft Corporation in Seattle.