Beautiful Blend

Appears in the June 2022 issue.

Hans Christian Andersen (1987) by Andy Warhol

Ready to hook up with a Rembrandt?

The work of an old master will mingle with those of contemporary Chicago area artists at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art’s free summer exhibition, Hooking Up: Meet the Collection. Featuring pieces from the museum’s permanent collection mixed with present-day works, the show aims to spur conversation while offering an immersive experience. Visitors are encouraged to sketch, write, and talk while viewing the broad array of pieces. “We wanted to take this idea of ‘connections’ by encouraging visitors to connect more actively with the works and each other,” says assistant curator Julia Walker. Visitors even may share their own work on a designated wall or pen notes to local artists participating in the exhibition.

Man in an Arbor (1642) 
by Rembrandt van Rijn

Auburn Gresham Is Iraq? (2017) 
by Amanda Williams

La Troupe de Mademoiselle Églantine (1896) 
by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Representing the museum’s permanent collection, works by Andy Warhol, Maya Lin, Roxy Paine, and the aforementioned Rembrandt van Rijn will figuratively hobnob with visiting pieces by contemporary local artists such as Theaster Gates, Amanda Williams, and Riva Lehrer. “This exhibition presents a wide range of artistic styles and offers many ways for visitors to connect to the works without the need for expertise,” Walker says. 

No art experience? No problem. The show is designed to engage newbies and experts alike. “Read the artists’ labels and the text in the exhibition, then see how that fits with what you see,” suggests gallery director and curator Justin Witte. “If in the end you don’t make a connection, that is fine, but in most cases you will and in the process perhaps gain a new perspective.”

As you browse, keep an open mind. “It’s important to truly take the time to consider a work before passing judgment—once you’ve done that, you still may not understand or even like it, but at least you have given it a chance,” Walker adds. “Looking at art that feels unfamiliar can make us uncomfortable, but that is a really great opportunity for self-discovery. When you look at a work of art, sometimes it’s more important to let it help you reflect upon yourself rather than on the work.”  

Hooking Up runs June 4 to August 7 at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art (, located on the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn. A reception and artists’ discussion will take place 6:30 p.m. July 15.

Photos courtesy of Cleve Carney Museum of Art