Chicago artist Daniel Hojnacki has taken a traditional approach to photography and turned it upside down. His experimental mixed media techniques have enriched his current body of work, which is largely about family, past, and reflection. The artist spends a lot of time reading, looking at other artists’ work, traveling, and spending time with family, all of which serve to fuel his aesthetic. “I try to read as much as I can,” he said. “And not just philosophical art theory. Right now, I’m reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Feeding the imagination through reading keeps the brain working.”
About three years ago, Hojnacki began to get very innovative in his approach to photography. He started to experiment by printing on tape, spackled paper, and other “industrial, mundane materials,” and was very excited by the results. This is not to say that it has been an easy road. The artist has found himself frustrated by having to give up the idea of controlling every facet of the process. “The aspect of mechanics can be troubling,” he said. “My printer has gone through many paper jams; there definitely trial and error involved. I spent a lot of time playing with different surfaces until something just clicked, visually. Once that happened, I rolled with it,” he said. While Hojnacki was volunteering with the Indiana Dunes State Park, working with invasive species, he began to think about nature, and how nature can be contained. “I started to think about how we control things. Tape is synthetic, it adheres. It challenged the image, and made it fall apart. Initially, that’s where the idea came from- the control of the photo and nature, and vice versa.”
Hojnacki is inspired by the city of Chicago, and the artists he has met there. He describes the creative community as tight-knit and supportive, and is stimulated by the energy and art community that’s developing in the city. “There are a lot of opportunities shaping and forming for emerging artists like myself,” he said. He describes the way that some groups of people flock to certain areas of the city known for art, and how that is growing and changing. “I think artists and art enthusiasts in Chicago are trying to reshape that, and make it more homogenous,” he said. “Witnessing that has been amazing. My development has been shaped by the help and work of other artists willing to assist others. It’s humbling.”
Hojnacki is thrilled to be showing at Vertical Gallery, and interested to meet the crowd of people that will come through for the opening reception. “Every gallery will reel in its own communities” he said. “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to present the work to fresh eyes, a new audience.” He is happy to be involved with Vertical, and delighted by the amount of attention the gallery has already gotten. “It has great energy, and the director is open and willing to work with artists that want to pursue larger ideas within the gallery setting, such as site-specific installations. It’s important to take ideas out of the studio and put them into the gallery space. Chicago has a really amazing spirit, and it’s a great incubator for galleries like that- the individual self-proprietor, small businesses… people are willing to support that, and it’s awesome. It’s amazing to watch it develop, let alone be a part of it.”
Daniel Hojnacki’s solo exhibition will commence with an opening reception on September 7th from 6-10 pm at Vertical Gallery, 1016 N. Western Avenue, Chicago IL 60622. The show runs until October 5th, 2013.
Interview by Shannon Gallagher