A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Benjamin Larose at EXPO CHICAGO

by Cat DeBacker (MA 2019)
Benjamin Larose (MDes 2016) shares his latest work for EXPO CHICAGO.

Benjamin Larose (MDes 2016), "Dot Your i's with Hearts"

Benjamin Larose’s (MDes 2016) studio is a treasure trove of ‘90s nostalgia and plastic paraphernalia that makes its way into his artwork. The French Canadian artist’s most recent exhibition, Dot your i’s with Hearts, produced during his Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) BOLT Residency, explored boyhood and family through tens of thousands of puzzle pieces, detective novels, and an image of Celine Dion. Larose, who was selected to represent CAC at EXPO CHICAGO, will continue to use puzzles as raw material for the upcoming exhibition, Sauver les meubles.

In French, the expression “sauver les meubles” refers to the act of preserving the most important things after a disaster or difficult time. Larose’s new body of sculptural work will situate the viewer in the intimacy of the bedroom. “I’m taking you to a transformed version of the bedroom to talk about difference and how epic, glorious, and triumphant being different can be, which is an overarching theme in my practice” he says.

Benjamin Larose, “Drippings," 2018, paint, steel, toy trucks, wax. Photo: James Prinz
Benjamin Larose (MDes 2016), "Drippings," 2018, paint, steel, toy trucks, wax. Photo: James Prinz

Cement, found objects, a dollhouse, and swells of puzzle pieces are some of the materials Larose is using in Sauver les meubles. The exhibit will pose questions about how we view and talk about pleasure. Puzzle pieces continue to play a symbolic role in Sauver les meubles, serving as a metaphor for the construction of personal identity and the discovery of one’s sexuality.

For Larose, who was a recipient of the prestigious RumChata Fellowship as a student at SAIC and now teaches in the School's Contemporary Practices department, the past four years of his life have all been “steps up from a previous level.” His focus has been on deepening his work in sculpture and realizing himself through the reconstruction of nostalgic objects. At EXPO CHICAGO, Larose hopes Sauver les meubles will prompt visitors to explore what intimacy and pleasure mean to the individual and how that resonates within their larger social context.

See Sauver les meubles from September 27–30 at EXPO CHICAGO and join Benjamin Larose and Anastasia Karpova Tinari, director of Rhona Hoffman Gallery for a dialogue on September 30, 2:30–3:00 p.m. in booth 174. To learn more about Larose's work, visit his website at benjaminlarose.com.