Artist Laura Davis Takes on Modernist Inspiration in Historic Restoration at Elmhurst Art Museum

Laura Davis, Histrionic Restoration, installation view. Elmhurst Art Museum, 2014 (photo by Clare Britt).

Continuing its exploration of the Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House (1952), the Elmhurst Art Museum premiered its new exhibition series "In the House" this fall, with Chicago-based artist Laura Davis' site-specific installation Histrionic Restoration.  

On a regular basis, contemporary artists, designers and architects will be invited to respond to the modernist structure by producing new work that takes into consideration the house's unique space and history. The resulting dynamic presentations encourage conversations between past and present and provide a rare opportunity for artists to work directly with and in this brilliant example of Mies' residential design.

Davis approached the McCormick House with a passion for the modernist style (minimal form, clean lines, industrial materials) but also an awareness that in order for "less to be more," certain exclusions were made. Her installation Histrionic Restoration reinserts these omissions into the modernist context, from the drama and stuff of everyday life to the value of things past to the female presence in society and art.

Davis alters and combines after-market finds (from jewelry to tchotchkes to mid-century modern furniture), appreciating the narrative and layered history of these used items. When juxtaposed in her sculptures and groupings, they also seem to complicate notions of value.   

Laura Davis will be presenting an Artist Talk on Friday, October 24. In the House: Laura Davis was curated by EAM's Chief Curator Staci Boris and is on view at Elmhurst Art Museum through January 11, 2015. For more information about the Elmhurst Art Museum exhibitions and programming, visit