In the Face of Illusion

Maquoketa Art Experience, November 24, 2017 – February 10, 2018.
Rose Frantzen's In the Face of Illusion presents intimate portrayals of individuals in dialogue with optical illusions, suggesting ways we might misperceive others and even ourselves. For a great discussion about the show, listen to Iowa Public Radio’s piece on Talk of Iowa.
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A Skewed View Rendered Squarely by Closer Proximity, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 34”

In the Face of Illusion offers a doorway to recognition of the peculiarities of human perception in a time when we are being divided and conquered, sticking to like-minded echo chambers, with group identities hardened by voices intent on reinforcing illusions and sowing division.
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Carrying the Weight of an Occluded Reflection, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 18”

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Circles Diminished by Spiraling Selves, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 18”

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Super-Impossibly Great Trompe L’oeil Easily Removed, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 18”

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Perhaps an Impossible Home for Invisible Dreams, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 50”

“Can we trust ourselves so much?” wonders Frantzen. “Optical illusions remain persistent, even when we rationally know that we are seeing things incorrectly. If misperception happens with simple lines and shapes, why wouldn't this also occur when we encounter something as complex as another human being or maybe even ourselves?”

“Overly identifying with ethnicity, nationality, religion, a sports team, our profession, gender, sexual orientation, a political party, our generation (need I go on?) can falsely simplify who we really are. Within any group, it's obvious that unique qualities abound, so the convictions we hold, seeing ourselves or others superficially in terms of group identity, lead to caricature or worse. As in optical illusions, believable but false reactions get in the way of reality, and what we think we see when we see the other gets consumed by the optics of identity.”
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How Can You See Straight When All You See Are Targets?, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 24”

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Vaulting the Disproportionate Illusion of a Transparent Wall, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 24”

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Us and Them, Warping the Peripheral, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 34”

Frantzen's In the Face of Illusion installation includes paintings, objects, and an anamorphic projection of an impossible shape.

“Group identities offer strength that can be useful in correction of past or ongoing injustices,” says Frantzen, “and they can provide momentum as we strive to accomplish goals that will improve our towns, our states, our world. The need for tribal identification might be as inherent and persistent as optical illusions. So, how do we build and distill the benefits of group coherence without resorting to Us vs. Them caricatures and illusions? How do we avoid being consumed by tribal identity when we are put on the defensive, when our group is struggling or threatened? How do we avoid being blinded to one another's complexities? Can an expanded sense of the absolute uniqueness and value of each individual, with an awareness that this is our shared truth, counteract the divisive side of human nature? Can we acknowledge or even be amused and humbled by our misperceptions?”
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The Distortion of Force Used by Some Who Proclaim Faith in the One Who Said “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 72”