Arts Illustrated

Hedreen Gallery, Lee Center for the Arts, Seattle, WA


Arts Illustrated

 James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA


Artists: Sonja Ahlers, Chris Buening & Jed Dunkerley
Medium: Illustrative Drawing
Run of Show: August 31st – October 20th, 2007
Venue: Hedreen Gallery, Lee Center for the Arts

Seattle - In 2002, the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition Drawing Now: Eight Propositions boldly positioned drawing as a more viable, stand-alone genre in contemporary art. No longer confined to second-class status behind painting and sculpture, drawing has become an increasingly popular medium.

The Seattle University Department of Fine Arts is pleased to present Arts Illustrated, an installation of drawings by Sonja Ahlers, Chris Buening, and Jed Dunkerley that exhibits the myriad and dynamic ways in which contemporary artists are using illustrative drawing today.

Ahlers work is both haunting and whimsical. Her intricate collages of original drawings, found scraps, and scribbled words are beautiful, but their message is grounded in larger issues. Part self-examination, part assessment on the state of feminism, Ahler’s work tells a story about the fractured state of womanhood.


Similarly, Buening’s intricate characters build subtle but shocking narratives about maleness. In methhead for example, a colorful and bright composition builds into the face of a man. The title of the piece leads us to believe the character is a drug addict. Similarly cheerful palettes serve as the means by which to render portraits Buening simply titles as sadeyes, or bearfaced. Through these bright but intricate representations the artist seems to be giving us a glimpse into the mental landscapes of the men he is trying to capture.

In Dunkerley’s compositions, what look like the nightmares of a children's-book illustrator are also made manifest with lighthearted under tones: monsters appear in family parks, escalators lead to nowhere, and animated caricatures perform impossible but funny feats. Despite the fantastical elements in each, Dunkerley carefully captures the zeitgeist of our contemporary condition.

Ahlers, Buening and Dunkerley find inspiration outside the confines of fine art using the vernacular of mass culture, such as comics and fashion as well as architectural drafting and ornamental design. Though playful, each work conveys a poignant message; it is this aspect of Arts Illustrated that is most important. Through a profusion of works on paper, the show stands to prove just how affecting and relevant a medium drawing really is.