ARC Gallery Chicago, Talking Portraits

Talking Portraits at ARC Gallery of Chicago in November  2006.


Tompalski’s Talking Portrait installation opened at the ARC Gallery of Chicago on November 6, 2006. It was covered by CANTV and later broadcast November 19th at 3pm on CAN TV 21.


The installation of 12 portaits, 6 videos and 7 portable CD Players were exhibited from November 1 to December 3, 2006 at 734 N. Milwaukee (corner of Milwaukee & Carpenter) Chicago USA. Videos of Graham, Jane, Carol, Marlene, Annick and Tony were displayed in a continuous loop on a video monitor at the centre of the installation. The corresponding audio tracks were made available on portable CD players so that visitors could listen to individual sound tracks as they view the 36″x 36″ portraits from the series. See the image below.


The Talking Portrait Installation Overview

The installation includes audio, video and painted portraits. The portraits are painted from a live model sitting for approximately six hours. The audio portion is edited from the comments, questions and reflections made by the model during the sitting. The time-lapse photography records the development of the portrait.


Typically, the painted portraits, exhibited as a matrix of faces, are inscribed with bold brush strokes and adventurous colours, that capture the psychological experience of the subjects. Tompalski’s work is concerned with intuition, interpretation, and  co-construction (the unconscious dialogue experienced during the portrait sitting.) Sherry Tompalski  states “To understand ourselves we look at others for clues as to what we are experiencing. The human face conveys a rich complexity of personal history, which we feel in an inexplicable way as an impression or an intuition. “


The sound tracks, were developed by splicing together the unscripted comments between the subject and artist with computer music and an assortment of sampled sounds added.


This dialogue allows for a momentary glimpse into the process of co-construction through the model’s verbal dialogue and the painter’s visual expression. The time-lapse photography displays the development of the portrait. The hypnotic effect helps the audience take the time to look and become engaged with the painted portrait.


Thanks to our Supporters

Special thanks goes to Galeries Saw of Ottawa Canada, the Ontario Arts Council for their support in developing this show and to the coverage we received from CANTV who filmed the opening reception.


ARC Gallery Backgrounder

The ARC Gallery is a not-for-profit, artist run gallery located in Chicago’s River West Neighborhood. ARC is an internationally recognized alternative space and has been an integral part of the Chicago art community since 1973. The ARC Gallery’s mission is to bring innovative, emerging and/or experimental visual art to a wide range of viewers, and to provide a nurturing atmosphere for the continued development of artistic potential and dialogue.