DETRITUS: life after death

Above: “Thicket” by Keelan McMorrow

Elephant Room Gallery is excited to present a solo exhibition of brand new works by Chicago-based artist Keelan McMorrow. ‘DETRITUS: life after death’ opens with a public reception on Saturday, February 16th from 6pm to 9pm and runs through March 30th.

If life offers no guarantees but death, then our struggles of mourning are universal: in ‘Detritus: Life After Death’, artist Keelan McMorrow depicts poignant symbols of the trauma, grief, and ultimate triumphs experienced through living life after the death of a loved one. In 2016, McMorrow’s brother passed away unexpectedly due to a congenital heart defect.

‘Detritus: Life After Death’ presents the work created after his brother’s passing, processing the guilt, anger, confusion and despair he faced in turn. For McMorrow, his own life – indeed his very birth – would be forever cemented in stark contrast with his family’s devastating loss: ‘My brother died on my birthday,’ Keelan explains. ‘Mere hours before I was looking forward to celebrating with him, with our family. It was like an asteroid hit. None of us could understand what was happening. Figuring out and accepting what occurred would of course come later, through fits and tears and horrible, sleepless nights.’

Art provided rungs to hold on to, like a ladder. And in climbing up, life continued and the artist’s vistas changed. So, too, did his work. Pieces of human bodies, of flesh, limbs, tools and artifices now tumble across his paintings piecemeal, scattered, where composed figures once resided – as if the world, shattered, exists as a puzzle to be joined back together. But there’s far more to it than that: ‘I think I’ve found a sort of peace in my new reality. A sort of wisdom, maybe. As much as we’re destined to lose what we love, the very fact that we can fall apart proves that we’re connected. It’s all just one big story, and even now my brother is continuing to be a part of it.’

Elephant Room Gallery is located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Gallery information can be found on their website,

3rd Annual Portrait Exhibition – All Women Artists

Elephant Room Gallery is excited to present the 3rd Annual Portrait Exhibition, curated by the gallery’s co-owner, Kimberly Leja Atwood. The portrait exhibition was exhibited in 2016 and 2017 in a large warehouse gallery in Bridgeport, featuring around 20 Chicago-based artists doing portraiture. This year’s exhibition is unique in that it includes solely women artists exhibiting their portraits in the intimate South Loop gallery. Artwork includes painting, photography, mixed media and digital work by a diverse group of talented artists.

Exhibiting artists include Cydney M. Lewis, Delisha McKinney, Ellen Hanson, Kayla Mahaffey, Laura Collins, Martha A. Wade, Reisha Williams, Rine Boyer and Tyesha M. Moores. A few of these artists have exhibited with the gallery in years past and others will be fresh faces to some. All of the artists are Chicago-based contemporary artists who are actively making work based on their personal experiences and passions, introducing us to unique perspectives and calling on us to think about art as not only visual stimulation, but as a reflection of what is happening in society today. “I am very excited to exhibit each of these artists as they are women I respect for various reasons but for the purposes of this group show, the strength of their work shown together will speak volumes to the amazing talent they each possess. I think visitors will be blown away.” – K.L.A.

The exhibition opens with a reception on Saturday, November 3rd from 5 to 9pm and will be on view through December 8th. Elephant Room Gallery is located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago and hours are by appointment only. The gallery plans to host various other events connected to the exhibition, which will be updated on the gallery’s website ( and social media channels.

Landscaped with Artists Joyce Polance & Chantala Kommanivanh Opens August 11th

Above: “Eagles” by Joyce Polance


A Contemporary Landscape Exhibition Featuring Artists Joyce Polance and Chantala Kommanivanh

Elephant Room Gallery is excited to present artists Joyce Polance and Chantala Kommanivanh in an exhibition featuring contemporary landscapes. “Landscaped” opens August 11th and will include additional programming during Expo Art Week in September.

When we think of traditional landscape paintings, several images might come to mind including green rolling hills, the deep gray of the mountains, a deep orange sunset or the blue and silver qualities of a lake. “Landscaped” is a departure from those images and reconsiders the landscape to be something more fluid and re-imagined based on our own relationship with our ever-changing environments. The vibrancy of colors and manipulation of paint in both Polance’s and Kommanivanh’s paintings are very different from one another yet are able to connect and interact with each other through the emotional quality of the work.

“Human activity plays a major role in the push and pull of nature’s birth, death, and rebirth……My landscape paintings are abstractions of nature’s wrath and beauty as I attempt to emulate her strength in fast brush strokes and vibrant marks of color.” – Kommanivanh. “I explore vulnerability through both my subject matter and my painting process. I begin with a specific reference, but once the image is initially laid in, I cease looking at it. Instead, I engage in dialogue with the painting, letting it lead me to unknown places.” – Polance

“Landscaped” is on exhibition August 11th through October 6th at Elephant Room Gallery located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in Chicago. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, August 11th from 6pm to 9pm. During Expo Week, the gallery will also hold a reception in conjunction with Expo’s Art After Hours on Friday, September 28th from 6pm to 9pm as well as a Q&A with the artists on Saturday, September 29th from 11am to 1pm. All events are free and open to the public. Additional gallery information can be found on the gallery’s website,

Joyce Polance Biography

Joyce Polance is a Chicago-based painter working in oils. Her work consists of expressionist portraits and landscapes which explore the chaotic inner worlds of their subjects—both as depiction of the subjects’ own vulnerabilities and of their connections to the tumultuous political atmosphere we are currently living in.

Polance has exhibited internationally and is the recipient of multiple grants and awards including six Chicago CAAP grants, a George Sugarman Foundation grant, two Judith Dawn Memorial grants, and a fellowship at Spertus Institute in Chicago. Her paintings are held internationally in private and corporate collections.

Polance was born in New York City in 1965. She attended Wesleyan University and received a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She lives and works in Chicago, Illinois and is represented by Judy Ferrara Gallery in Three Oaks, MI and Elephant Room Gallery in Chicago, IL. Her paintings may be viewed on her website,

Chantala Kommanivanh Biography

Chantala Kommanivanh is an emerging Laotian American artist. Kommanivanh’s work is inspired from old family photographs and found images representing his childhood. His work uses paint and loose canvas, often collage and layered with drawn and painted marks, areas of thick paint and thin stains of color to explore his experience as a member of a refugee family. There are glimpses of a displaced youth negotiating a new cultural landscape, family ties, and various aspects of identity and urban life in his work. His paintings combine colorful and sometimes aggressive abstraction with moments of sensitive photographic clarity…perhaps an appropriate analogy to an engaged life.

Kommanivanh’s work has been displayed in four solo exhibitions in Chicago and numerous group and invitational exhibitions across the U.S. He received his M.F.A. at UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, studying painting and drawing. He has achieved numerous awards such as the prestigious Union League Civic & Arts Foundation award and a two time A.O.P. Fellowship award recipient. Kommanivanh is also an arts instructor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

“Silver Lining”, a solo show by Brian Dovie Golden

Elephant Room Gallery is excited to present Silver Lining, a solo exhibition by artist Brian Dovie Golden, opening on Saturday, May 12th with a reception from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The exhibition runs through July 7th and is free and open to the public.

Using primarily watercolor, Golden has been exploring this medium for the past several years, perfecting it to portray the beautiful subtleties of skin and texture in portraiture. Silver Lining is a culmination of portraits and illustrated figures that give physical shape to the joyful highs and woeful lows of our existence. Both the inspiration for the series and the interpretation are very personal to the artist, but the resulting work is relatable to all who have struggled and triumphed in life. The combination of the sketchbook inspired figure drawings and the photorealistic painted portraits are unique to the artist and speak to his ability to bring something fresh to the contemporary art scene. Giving a nod to both pop art and photorealism, Golden is an artist who creates from the heart first and foremost, creating his own unique signature style in the process.

About the Artist

Brian Dovie Golden (b. 1982) is a Chicago-based African American contemporary artist. His thought-provoking, emotionally charged paintings invite viewers to address issues of race, gender, pop culture and mental health. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Golden would find solace in comic books, cartoons and anything that brought forth bright colors and joy. Today, his work reflects those initial childhood inspirations as he explores human emotion through his use of portraiture, illustrations and color. Golden is a graduate of the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago, with a BFA in Graphic Design/Multimedia Production. Emerging on the Chicago art scene in early 2013, Brian has shown with Poets and Artists and at various galleries including Nych Gallery, galleryna19 and Elephant Room Gallery.

Elephant Room Gallery has been operating since 2009, exhibiting Chicago-based artists who bring fresh perspectives to the contemporary art world. The gallery is located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in Chicago. More information on exhibitions and events can be found on the gallery’s website:


At The Raw Stage

Artist Mimi Zaphiratos Exhibits Her Most Recent Work

Elephant Room Gallery is thrilled to be working with artist Mimi Zaphiratos on her solo exhibition, “At the Raw Stage”, opening Saturday, March 10th with a reception from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. The exhibition features oil paintings, hand-painted bottles and porcelain tea sets. The show runs through May 5th at the South Loop Gallery.

“At the Raw Stage” is a body of work that reflects the artist’s current painting process. The self-taught artist’s current work can best be described as abstract, naïve-primitive. The oil paintings are created spontaneously in the moment with no premeditation on subject or placement. A sense of relief and freedom is achieved in her process that can then be re-interpreted by the viewer. Shapes, lines, colors, characters and sometimes texture are woven into each piece in a way that provides depth to the solid composition. “When I exhibit my artwork, I am sharing with the audience how I see today’s world, which I inhabit. I also wish to show that art is the universal language of peace: to unite and communicate with the entire world no matter what ethnicity, language, color, background, or gender one is.” – Zaphiratos

Born in Vietnam and raised in France, Mimi Zaphiratos’ creativity stems from her diverse multicultural background. Her dynamic art explores universal themes such as life, loss, reconciliation and love. Her many mediums of work include oil paint on canvas, painted porcelain tea sets, public artwork, painted leather apparel and much more. Mimi currently resides in Chicago and continues to create while exploring new themes and mediums for creativity.

Elephant Room Gallery has been operating since 2009, exhibiting Chicago-based artists who bring fresh perspectives to the contemporary art world. The gallery is located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in Chicago. More information on exhibitions and events can be found on the gallery’s website: