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Falling in love with Dawn Gettler

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Dawn Gettler's "modern romance"

If an adoring fan wanted to fill our studios with flowers and chocolate, we wouldn’t be disappointed. But filling them with paper might be one step better. Artist-in-Residence, Dawn Gettler has done that and more for her show, i regret to inform you. “I find my time in the studio to be one of romance and privilege,” says Gettler. What better way to celebrate the season of love at WSW than with an artist who understands the love struggle of making art?

Gettler uninstalled the hazardous curtain over the stairwell the second she had finished installing. She then printed the phrase, “the more I try to erase you, the more you appear,” in white, on white. To top it off, she dashed pickling salt over the wet ink.
Clockwise left to right: a view of “modern romance” from the bottom of WSW’s gallery stairs, the silkscreen used to print the text, and re-installed sheets from “modern romance”.

Gettler installed a site-specific cascade of paper that became the piece, modern romance. We watched in shock as she then uninstalled all 142 sheets, screen printed text with extender base, flocked the text in pickling salt, and reinstalled.

She mounted a vertical oscillating fan across from the sheets so that they would move in soft waves.

Over time, the fan causes the pickled sentiment, “the more i try to erase you, the more you appear” to slowly disappear. Salt that’s meant to preserve fell on the shoulders of viewers and stuck with them, demonstrating the ironies of  romantic rumination and control (or lack thereof).

After re-hanging the curtain of augmented sheets, the embossed phrase disappeared and reappeared depending on the viewer’s angle.
Pickling-salt flocked text in “modern romance”**
Dawn Gettler installs a chandelier that illuminates during the witching hour when regrets come out to haunt.
Dawn Gettler installs a chandelier, entitled “a collection of regrets,” that illuminates during the witching hour when regrets come out to haunt.*
In the foreground, "Modern Romance," and in the background hangs the "Chandelier of Regret".
Installation shot of “i regret to inform you’ at WSW.
Snow casts a blue glow on Dawn's installations. In the foreground: "Modern Romance", Background: relief prints "Veil #1" and "Veil #2"
Snow casts a blue glow on Gettler’s installations. In the foreground: “modern romance”**, background: relief prints “veil #1” and “veil #2″***

A black chandelier, veils printed delicately cream on white, and a fluttering paper play with preserved thought . . . these pieces are layers about love and relationships with other people, with a space, and with time. As Gettler puts it, “There is a bitterness in the work, but more in line with being bittersweet” (by the way, you should see what she’s done with sugar).

Gettler has been working at WSW for five weeks. We’re bittersweet about the fact that next week will be her last. She has held previous residencies at The Bemis Center for Contemporary ArtsSpiro ArtsART342The KHN Center for the ArtsPrairie Center of the Arts in Peoria, IL, and Spudnik Press in Chicago. She earned her MFA from Ohio University, and currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. You can fall in love with more at dawngettler.com.

Images and video courtesy of the artist. Media, dimensions, and details:

a collection of regrets
wood, string, graphite on sewn tarp paper coated in dyed glycerin
2′w x 2′d x 5′h

modern romance

wooden armature, 142 silkscreened sewn papers flocked in pickling salt, wall mounted vertical oscillating fan
36′w x 11′d x 8′h

veil #1, veil #2, and veil #3
(veil #3 not pictured)
embossed woodcut
40″ x 26″ (framed)
(this series of three was printed and editioned at Spudnik Press in Chicago, Il)


  1. wrote on February 22nd, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    anita wetzel

    Thanks for this great entry! Superbien! I enjoyed the writing and the images and have been so glad to not only experience Dawn’s work in the WSW gallery but hear her talk about and see her carry forward new and related work in the intaglio and silkscreen studios. Thanks blogger! Thanks artist!

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