Klompching Gallery is delighted to announce the exhibition, Soap Opera, showcasing the artworks of Eli Craven. The exhibition features new and recent artworks from Soap Opera, First Aid, and Human Figures. While each project is discreetly different, they share a common thread by the artist’s innovative combination of image and object.

Soap Opera—the artist’s newest and ongoing work—is a manifestation of television fantasy into a physical object, in order to explore the act of looking and the desire to see what is hidden. In these artworks, Craven combines still images from daytime soap operas, obscured by wooden panels with peepholes, and mirrored metal panels—these sculptural elements invite the viewer to bring their own viewpoint and imagination to the narrative.

The melodrama of the soap opera genre has the power to not only reflect our cultural norms and values but to shape them as well … The viewer’s participation is essential.

(Eli Craven)

Additional pieces from the First Aid and Human Figures series complement this newest work. Craven’s art practice, while utilizing photography to good effect—he incorporates his photographs and found ephemera—is centered around ideas of perception and cultural constructions, which he explores by de-contextualizing photographs.

The artworks display an element of playfulness, but also a degree of intensity. The peepholes, for example, reveal eyes, both closed and open, that seem to be disembodied from the partly obscured human forms to which they belong. Among other devices, this elicits a sense of curiosity and underscores the importance of the act of looking.

Eli Craven (b. 1979) is an artist based in Lafayette, Indiana where he is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Purdue University. Craven's research resides in the critical investigation of the image and its relationship to ideologies of sexuality, desire, and death. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at Feinkunst Krüger Gallery in Hamburg, Germany, the South Bend Museum of Art's 31st Biennial, and Klompching Gallery’s 2022 Fresh Annual Exhibition of Photography.