The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions


James Deeb, “Silent Witnesses”, Monotype, 30 x 22”

The Art Center – Highland Park
1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035

An exhibition utilizing the beauty of high-quality fine art to raise awareness of human rights issues
November 7, 2014–January 3, 2015
Gallery Hours: MondaySaturday 9am- 4:30pm

Reception: Friday, November 7, 6:30–9pm

Opening November 7th at The Art Center of Highland Park is, The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions. This fine art exhibition, features the work of fifteen artists from around the country, calling attention to the ongoing ancient rituals that kill or maim millions each year—yet are not considered crimes. The exhibition utilizes the beauty of high-quality fine art to raise awareness of human rights issues and—in doing so—begin a dialogue that may encourage change.

This provocative yet engaging exhibition debuted in 2013 at the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, putting the shadowy topics of honor killing, child marriage, acid violence—among others—directly in front of current and future law makers. Since the show debuted, new art pieces have been added. The show has evolved into the unique presentation designed specifically for The Art Center of Highland Park.

Chuck Gniech is the curator of the exhibition featuring some fifty pieces of fine art, in a variety of mediums. Gniech points out that “The pieces selected for this exhibition are intriguing—with many levels of interpretation… Conscious of the human rights issues outlined by Executive Producer, Cheryl Jefferson, I selected beautifully intriguing works of art that contain multiple levels of meaning. Each piece was chosen to allude to the issues at hand… the meaning ultimately defined by the interpretation of the viewer.” says Chuck Gniech. “For example, Silent Witnesses by James Deeb, is a 30×22” Monotype, that was developed from Deeb’s interest in medical and dental x-rays.” I found it appropriate for inclusion due to the implied content; the use of figurative abstraction with an emphasis on the bones of the mouth—a graphic image that alludes to the silencing of the repressed.

Deeb explains. “… After I finished it [Silent Witnesses] and the other pieces in the series, I realized that they were less about human interaction with medical technology and more about taboo subjects often left unspoken. This fits particularly well with the theme of Breaking Criminal Traditions. Speaking out against these crimes almost always leads to violent reprisals. The victims’ coerced silence helps give these “traditions” and their perpetrators an air of normalcy that allows the vicious cycle to continue. I want Silent Witnesses to point out the need to give a voice to the voiceless.”

Chuck Gniech has curated numerous fine art exhibitions with an emphasis on social justice. The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions continues the string of shows that offer a visual exploration of human rights issues. This show is designed to begin a dialogue and raise consciousness, which is the first step toward preventing the continuation of these horrifying acts.

“The global reach of these complex behaviors extends to the United States,” points out executive producer, Cheryl Jefferson, a participant in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. “The exhibit allows us to take the first step toward change and to support the legal evolution that can only come from within other cultures and our own.”

The exhibition includes works of art by: Corinna Button (Chicago, IL), James Deeb (Evanston, IL), Sheila Ganch (Chicago, IL), Claire Girodie (Baltimore, MD), Sergio Gomez (Chicago, IL), Andrea Harris (Chicago, IL), Paula Kloczkowski Luberda (Naperville, IL), Richard Laurent (Chicago, IL), Kathy Liao (Seattle, WA), Chandrika Marla (Highland Park, IL), Zoriah Miller (New York, NY, Paris, France), Nancy Rosen (Chicago, IL), Lorraine Sack (Indianapolis, IN), Valerie Schiff (Chicago, IL), Barbara Simcoe (Omaha, NE), and Anne Smith Stephan (Wilmette, IL)

The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions will be on display through January 3. A public Opening Reception will take place on Friday, November 7 from 6:30-9pm. The Art Center of Highland Park is located at 1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035. The gallery is open Monday–Saturday 9am-4:30pm. Most of the pieces included in the exhibition are available for purchase. Additional information can be found at

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