Jackson Junge Gallery presents their first group exhibition of 2024, No Color. Showcasing the talent of 33 artists, many of whom are local to the Chicagoland area, No Color challenges conventional notions of artistic expression by exploring the limitless possibilities that emerge when black and white intersect. By removing color from the equation, artists are compelled to explore alternative avenues of communication and expression, leading to unexpected and compelling outcomes.

Many artists in the exhibition described the theme of the show pushing them out of their comfort zones and inspiring them to experiment. Color in art is often used to convey a mood or message, but the question is, how to you do this when color is not an option?

Tammi Longsjo, one of the artists in the exhibition, shares her experience of navigating the absence of color in her piece "Counting Sheep", stating, "I was curious about working in black and white and how layering paint, pencil, and pastel might work differently without color. The contrast and starkness remind me of winter and its long nights." This resulted in a captivating abstraction of texture and shape, evoking the dormant beauty of a prairie awaiting the arrival of spring.

In "Passing", Brynn Gleason presents a painting from an introspective series inspired by the phenomenon of sleep paralysis as a symptom of PTSD. Through a process of misting and painting on birch with watery acrylic, Gleason creates a juxtaposition between black shadowy figures and a calming environment. This invites viewers into a soft, gray realm of peaceful stillness, breaking away from the experiences that inspired the piece.

Natasha Kanevski's sculptural piece, "Connection 21", challenges viewers to consider the role of light in the creation of black and white. Although the piece itself is entirely white, its defining features emerge through dark shadows cast by its round, hollowed-out forms. Kanevski states that the piece represents our connection to one another in life, each individual form representing a person. “I organize them on a canvas together in a dance; there is a logic in the composition because, in this life, we are in this together; we are connected. Our reality is beyond our knowledge, but we feel this connection.”

In contrast to Kanevski’s all-white piece is “When The Party’s Over” by MK Jilek. Black dominates the piece, briefly allowing slivers of gray and white to make an appearance in an upper corner. The piece represents the temporary nature of happiness and asks us to reflect on our response when that happiness is over. In Jilek’s words:

In a world of instant gratification and validation, sometimes our most important moments of growth come from the reflection of how we come out of the light.

Meanwhile, Carol Weber's "Wanderings I" delves into the concept of our connection to the environment. Weber’s use of deep black paint on white wood, along with the expansive landscape in the center, creates a feeling of isolation. Weber believes our recent forced isolation has strengthened our relationship with the land. This piece uses found objects and buildings to illustrate this narrative. The found objects chosen for “Wanderings I”, a collection of nails mounted to weathered wood with peeling paint, seem to be a visual representation of the connection between us, our homes, and our land. “I see this work as a record of my vision, thoughts, and imagery that are meant to encourage pausing, looking, and connecting. I have always felt a tie to the landscape where I live and the simple vistas that surround me.”

Bringing awareness to our inner selves is Michael Stidham’s piece, “The Well”, a captivating portrait that invites you to stare through the subject’s eye straight into their soul. “The Well” falls into the area between black and white, making use of a wide range of grays to define the face’s features. Smaller skeletal faces caught in a whirlpool of wrinkles pull you in toward a beautifully painted reflective iris. Stidham's work serves as a mirror to our inner selves, exploring the complex interplay between outward expression and inner emotions.

No Color promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of separate narratives that connect through the artist’s use of black, white and grey. The exhibition challenges viewers to reconsider their perceptions of “no color”. Neither black nor white can exist without the whole light spectrum; black being the combination of all visible color, and white, reflecting all visible light that creates color. No Color is a collection of artworks by artists using the limited palette of black, white and grey. The exhibition is curated by Chris Jackson, Kaitlyn Miller and Maddie Kirmse.