Ferencak's art breathes life and motion into the female form

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In addition to picture framing, The Great Frame Up on Lake Street has now started doing art exhibits. "Recent Works by Dawn Ferencak" is the first show, scheduled to run until July 15.

Ferencak is particularly drawn to the nude female form. Though this show doesn't include any of the sculptural work she's done in the past, it does reflect her continued interest in sculpture. This is particularly pronounced in her charcoal drawings. The exaggerated shadowing, dark, heavy outlines and exaggerated curves make the figures feel very heavy, even statuesque.

Nevertheless, what's particularly striking is the strong sense of motion, apparent even in the two drawings in which the nude female figures are lying on a bed. It comes out in the odd twists of the body, and the smudging that seems to represent active life forces.

In the piece where the woman is shown in dance, the sense of fast motion and twirling is dizzying. The motion lines follow the curves of the body so perfectly that they almost seem to be an extension of her physicality.

While a strong sense of sexuality is apparent in the size of the hips and breasts, the picture seems to rise above the merely carnal and into spiritual realms. The contrast between the highly sculptural form and the strong sense of motion brings to mind the biblical account of the Garden of Eden. Humans were but mud and clay, until God breathed life into our bodies. It's as if Ferencak is giving us Eve at that very moment she rose up out of the clay to discover she was alive. The sexuality of the drawing is subsumed or transformed into an unselfconscious joy in being alive and in motion.

This interest in the nude female form is reflected in Ferencak's smaller prints as well. In some of the prints, it's fairly easy to pick out the limbs and the breasts. But the more interesting prints are the ones that look at first glance like random lines set on a page. A skeptic might even be tempted to question their legitimacy as art. But on closer inspection, one sees a variety of versions of the female body embedded in these lines, like an inkblot test. Taken individually, perhaps they wouldn't be as interesting. But the experience of thumbing through these 20 or 30 different versions is fascinating, and gives a whole new sense of the infinite potential of line to merge with form.

"Recent Works by Dawn Ferencak" is on exhibit at The Great Frame Up, 705 Lake St., until July 15. Gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

"Anna Poplawska

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