Sheila Elias and her son and daughter, Joshua and Joyce, who are all professional artists, thought it was time to do their first group show together. They decided Art Center Highland Park would be a great place to do it.
That concept became a reality with “famil-E”, which runs until July 30th. She also inspired curator Caren Helene Rudman to create a related exhibition, “Nature vs. Nurture,” to explore the interplay between hereditary traits and environmental influences.
“The Elias family probably arrived three years ago and proposed a group show with the three of them,” said Rudman. “I knew Joyce, because she’s a local, but I didn’t know about Sheila or Joshua. I looked at all their work and thought it was a really cool idea. “
Joyce, who lives in Evanston, had seen an exhibit at the Art Center and thought it was the right space for an exhibit of their family. “When I walked into that gallery, I thought, ‘This is the place,’” Joyce recalled.
When his mother and brother visited for the holidays three years ago, they saw the space and agreed.
“We always thought we should have done this in Illinois, because we were all born here, my parents were born here and one of my grandmothers was born here,” said Sheila, who raised her children in Wilmette. Sheila now lives in Los Angeles; Joshua lives in Miami.
Lifelong artist Sheila has around 25 small pieces and two large pieces in the show. “My work is generally painting and a little bit of collage,” Sheila said.
“I’ve been an artist for 35 years, I exhibit all over the world,” said Joshua, who is a professional abstract artist. He has seven very large oil on linen and oil on canvas pieces in the exhibit.
Joyce has around 20 pieces on display, including collages and acrylic paintings.
Rudman seems surprised by the difference between the styles of her mother and her children. “Sheila Elias is best known for her installations. Her work is very cutting edge, socio-political, “Rudman said.
“Her two adult children are much more traditionalist artists. They are more formal, they are more abstract artists. I think it’s so funny because you’d think it would be the other way around.
Sheila said she was not surprised that Joyce had become a professional artist because “She has always been an artist since she was little.”
“I just gravitated around the arts and didn’t really think about it,” Joyce said.
Sheila indicated that she was more surprised than Joshua because he had been an actor.
Sheila believes she did not actively influence her children to become artists, but “they were surrounded by them,” she said. “In a way I was too. My mother always had nice prints in the house and, being my mother an interior designer, sometimes our walls were green when everyone’s walls were white. “
Rudman noted that The Art Center structures its exhibitions around their featured artists, proposing a theme that matches their work.
“Nature vs. Nurture ”seemed relevant to the three artists’ exhibition.
The curator and artists wondered “if Elias’ descendants are artists because they inherited a genetic predisposition – something you were born with. Or they’ve just been exposed to art all their lives and that’s what they’ve modeled, “Rudman said.
“Then there is nature in the way I perceive it – the internal nature – the way we see things and the way we question things,” added Joshua. “And those are key elements in my art.”
“’Nature vs. Nature ‘is an extensive exhibition that includes over 60 works by 44 artists, including pieces that explore how artists function in the natural world.
The members of the Elias family were part of the jury of the show “Nature Versus Education”, each of which selected their favorite pieces.
“We looked at 250 maybe 300 entries,” Joshua said. “We all judged independently. We haven’t discussed it. My mom chose a mix of different things and had a very specific point of view. My sister did it too, but many times my sister and I have had completely different interpretations. “
Joshua said that he, his mother and his sister hadn’t thought of doing a show together before. He is glad they finally did. “I love them both and I also love their art,” Joshua said. “The work really works beautifully together.”
Joyce agreed that “it’s very exciting to see everyone working together”.
Rudman described the “Famil-E” exhibit as “A Celebration of Encounter”.
“E family and nature versus education”
When: until 30 July; 10: 00-16: 00 from Monday to Saturday
Where is it: The Art Center Highland Park, 1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
Tickets: Free admission
Information: 847-432-1888; theartcenterhp.org/contemporary-art-exhibitions
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.