- Illinois State Museum Second Floor Gallery
“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.” –Elie Wiesel
This companion exhibition to the Robert Middaugh: Machines Inherit the Earth exhibition presents artwork from our permanent collection created by friends and contemporaries of Robert Middaugh. This exhibition helps to place Middaugh's work in context with other artistic currents of the later half of the Twentieth Century. Included are works by his life long friend and former partner Jerry Torn, along with close friends Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, Mike Ferris, Martyl, Ruth Duckworth and Barbara Aubin. Also included is a print by his teacher Vera Berdich and works by three contemporaries of Middaugh who share with him common interests in subject matter and approaches to representation.
The friendships that develop between artists over the span of their careers can follow many circuitous paths. These connections are usually less about a common stylistic or artistic approach and more about the structure of their social engagements. For artists—who often work alone in their studio—finding companionship among classmates, studio mates, and neighbors, or through a gallery affiliation, is an important narrative that rarely gets told through an exhibition. These friendships are marked by a spirit of artistic adventure and equanimity that often overrides social strictures of gender or social standing. Friendships are often reflected in the artwork hanging in an artist's home. Robert Middaugh had many works by these artists around his home; a physical reminder of shared connections and memories.
Organized by Associate Curator of Art Doug Stapleton
Artist List: Barbara Aubin, Vera Berdich, Ruth Duckworth, Mike Ferris, John Frazer, Ellen Lanyon, Robert Lostutter, Martyl, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, Jerry Torn