In 2016, artists Amber Ginsburg and Sara Black harvested a tanoak tree on the California coast that was dying from sudden oak death, a disease caused by an accidentally introduced pathogen. After drying the tree in a high-temperature kiln to remove any trace of the pathogen, they gave it new life by turning it into 7,000 handmade pencils: works of art that could be used to produce more art.
Those pencils are now part of “On Drawing Drawing On,” a new exhibition at the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. Running through March 13 in the Logan Center Gallery, the exhibition celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Gray Center’s signature initiative: the Mellon Collaborative Fellowship in Arts Practice and Scholarship.
“The show is a riff on the double meaning of drawing,” said Seth Brodsky, director of the Gray Center. “It obviously designates the act of creating art with pencil and paper. But it also involves pulling, dragging, drawing out, selecting too. It speaks to the way Gray Center fellows select each other, draw from and on each other, find things in each other’s work neither knew was there in the first place.”