Chicago Tribune

Skestos Gabrielle Gallery

Melissa McGill

Melissa McGill’s sculptures at the Skestos Gabrielle Gallery give form to the spaces in between objects, and it is sometimes uncanny how that form relates to art or pop culture objects we already know.

Her most arresting work is an installation of 73 black blown-glass pieces suspended by filament from the gallery ceiling. The artist has created these pieces, with shapes that range from abstract biomorphs to seeming streamlined representations, from a photograph of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini’s 1625 sculpture “Apollo and Daphne.” McGill’s installation is of the negative spaces in the picture, which she has focused on and powerfully transformed.

Other, freestanding sculptures of white porcelain also are based on spatial voids, though their effect is different. One suggests the flowing form of an Art Nouveau or Futurist sculpture. Another gives the sense of a robed, bowing Speedy Alka Seltzer, a cartoon character from 1950s advertising. A third group calls to mind the flower/gown association of animated figures from the “Nutcracker Suite” section of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.” Once we know how they came into being, the sense is promoted that the world contains “hidden” forms waiting to be discovered.

Unfortunately, the strategy does not work as well in two of the artist’s black-and-white photographs. Andre Kertesz and other modernists did better in calling up a world from the reflections in standing water.