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Essex Flowers front entrance and front gallery are wheelchair accessible. Our back gallery is accessible, with a clearance of 31”. Our bathroom is not wheelchair accessible.


Phyllis Bramson, Josh Dihle, Cathy Hsiao
Curated by Matt Morris with Adds Donna
June 29 - July 29, 2018
Opening reception: Friday, June 29, 6-8 pm

Phyllis Bramson, Abstract Spidey, 2013
Courtesy of the artist and Zolla Leiberman Gallery, Chicago.

In the dream, I walk across a parking lot and into a brick corridor. Gaps in the masonry permit shafts of light to glint in. The path wraps around the exterior of a building before turning inward. I enter what appears to be some kind of Asian restaurant. The space is mostly darkened, and in puddles of light I see a koi pond, several miniature gardens, and a series of sliding doors through which one dining room proceeds into the next.

“Incorporation denotes a fantasy, introjection a process…That fantasies are often unconscious does not mean they pertain to something outside the subject but rather that they refer to a secretly perpetuated typography…Why are some fantasies directed at the very metaphor of introjection?…Introjecting a desire, a pain, a situation means channeling them through language into a communion of empty mouths.”1

The first room is set up with a long banquet table full of people I recognized. I hear one say, “A paradox is involved here, in that in this initial phase the baby creates the object, but the object is already there, else he would not have created it. The paradox has to be accepted, not resolved.”2 I am invited to sit and eat with them, but think better of it. I am trying to find somewhere quiet to make notes about a dream I’d just woken from.

In the second room I pass through, dinner guests read from large, laminated menus, spiral bound and covered with full color photographs of the items available for order. I look down across someone’s shoulder and see a page of the menu that shows paintings for sale: modestly priced, seemingly ink on silk, mostly depicting flowering trees. I wonder where they are stored.

The third room is noisy and crowded. An elaborately carved bar stocked with shelves of bottles takes up nearly half of the space. Many people are inebriated, slurring loudly. I notice some glasses of beer sitting on the floor amidst the feet of those seated and standing; I make sure to avoid knocking them over. I worry that I will forget the details of the dream of which I aimed to make a record. As I make my way to enter a fourth room, the bottom edge of my jeans catch on several shards of broken glass that are sticking up out of the floor. I struggle to free myself.

“But what was this other adventurous self? Certainly the idea of everyone having an imaginative body as well as a physical one seemed likely to be connected in some way with the transfiguration of the object in the light of one’s own dreams…These questions brought me back to thinking more about the phenomena of spreading the imaginative body to take the form of what one looked at. For might not this power to spread around objects of the outer world something that was nevertheless part of oneself, might it not be a way of trying to deal with the primary human predicament of disillusion through separation and jealousy and loss of love?”3

1  Torok, Maria and Nicola Abraham. The Shell and the Kernel: Renewals of Psychoanalysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print, pp. 125, 128.
2 Winnicott, D. W. Home is Where We Start From. New York: W. W> Norton & Company, 1986. Print, p. 30.

3 Milner, Marion. On Not Being Able to Paint. New York: International Universities Press, 1957. Print, p. 36, 55.


Phyllis Bramson is an artist based in Chicago. She is the recipient of three National Endowments, a Senior Fulbright Scholar, Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, Artadia: the fund for Art and Dialog Jury Award, Anonymous Was A Woman Award, and selected as one of the Women's Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Awardees for 2014. A thirty-year retrospective of Bramson’s work was shown at the Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, IL, and traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center in 2016. She has been included in numerous group exhibitions such as Seattle Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Contemporary Museum of Art/Chicago, Smart Museum, Renwick Museum, New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Corcoran Museum's 43rd Biennial.  Over 40 one-person exhibitions including: The New Museum ofContemporary Art, Boulder Art Museum and Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (mid-career survey). Her work is held in many collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, National Museum of American Art, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Josh Dihle received his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL in 2012 and his BA at Middlebury College, VT in 2007.  Recent solo exhibitions include Valerie Carberry Gallery in Chicago, Pleasant Plains in Washington D.C., and Autumn Space in Chicago.  Group exhibitions include Annarumma Gallery in Naples, Italy, Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago, Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst, the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor, and DUTTON in New York.  Dihle teaches in the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and codirects the project space Julius Caesar.

Cathy Hsiao is an artist working in Chicago. She comes from a background in craft, specifically weaving animal fibers dyed with plants, raised by a devout Buddhist mother. “Plant and Animal Studio” keeps this name as acknowledgement to those histories. She studied at the University of California Berkeley and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a recipient of the 2016 Emerging Illinois Artists Triennial Juror Prize, the New Artist Merit Society Fellowship, School of the Art Institute, a Cornell School of Criticism and Theory Certificate, amongst others. She is a 2018 - 2019 BOLT resident. Upcoming solo and group shows include LVL3, Chicago Artists Coalition and McLean County Art Center.


Matt Morris is an artist, writer, and sometimes curator based in Chicago. He has presented artwork nationally and internationally including Shane Campbell Gallery, Queer Thoughts, and Gallery 400, Chicago, IL; The Mary + Leigh Block Museum of Art in Evanston, IL; The Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst, IL; Fjord and Vox Populi in Philadelphia, PA; and The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH. He is a contributor to Artforum.com, Art Papers, ARTnews, Flash Art, and Sculpture; and his writing appears in numerous exhibition catalogues and artist monographs. He is a transplant from southern Louisiana who holds a BFA from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and earned an MFA in Art Theory + Practice from Northwestern University, as well as a Certificate in Gender + Sexuality Studies. In Summer 2017 he earned a Certification in Fairyology from Doreen Virtue, PhD. Morris is a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.