Trauma is part of the human condition, and the past year has certainly been no exception. In their two-person show at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago, Janice Elkins and Gina Lee Robbins confront this age-old situation fearlessly. Elkins’s vigorous paintings veer from the moodily ephemeral (a white canvas speckled black, like a flock of birds bursting from formation) to the brashly wrecked (garishly scribbled and drippy visages). Robbins’s tortured sculptures bind together in ugly configurations of latex tubing, horse hair, netting, and clay, the more the worse, like a sick person hooked up to so many hospital machines. Simpler pieces bear their dread elegantly: a dark ceramic shell that howls, a flushed and crackled one with a gaping orifice, a tower of reclaimed wood beams topped with an old-fashioned bouffant. When Elkins’s paintings and Robbins’s sculptures echo one another in form, as they do often, then empathy blooms in spirit and the pain can begin to slowly recede.
—Lori Waxman 2021-04-06 4:48 PM