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Re-imagining the Future -- Zion, IL Multi-Media Artist, Michael Litewski, Creates New Art Series Using Tinker Toys and CNC Machinery

Michael Litewski enjoys a moment of reflection in his Zion, IL art studio. See more of Michael's artwork below...

By Kendra Kett, Art BEAT Buzz Contributor

For the last 40 years Michael Litewski has been making art and sharing how he witnesses and reacts to the world through his visual expression. As a visual artist he is largely self-taught and considers himself first and foremost a storyteller. Using varying types of medias, Litewski weaves stories, ideas, and concepts from national and global events, social trends, and the political issues of today’s world into his complex, multi-faceted creations. 


His works largely explore the current societal state of the “house and home” starting first with an emphasis on the simple “house” shape which supports endless possibilities for creativity. His Zion IL art studio is equipped with the materials, tools, and machinery needed to plan and execute his highly aesthetic, symbolic, conceptual drawings, paintings, mixed media assemblages, and constructions. 

Litewski has ably tackled a wide range of subjects in his works, including addiction, war, censorship, corruption, the Information Age, mass media communication, fake news, and climate change, as well as his own personal struggles. Each work follows an independent creative process, yet all of the works are closely inter-related resulting in a cohesive, thought-provoking and engaging collection.

As an artist who does not compromise, is ever evolving, always changing, and determined to resist stagnation, Litewski is launching a new collection of artworks – including paintings, drawings, and complex multi-media assemblages -- at the historic Evanston Art Center in Evanston IL during the month of July. 

The exhibition opens July 6 and will be on view through July 28. Titled “Finding Space & Other Stories” the exhibition will showcase 16 pieces by the artist. An Opening Reception will be held on Sunday, July 7, from 1-4pm. Litewski will give a brief presentation about his art at 2:30pm.      

“I really try to resist showing the same body of work over and over. That is because in my appreciation of art, like the world itself, it keeps changing, and I am trying to keep up with expressing myself fully and unapologetically, without constraints, of both how I create and how I see the world,” said Litewski.

“Finding Space & Other Stories” as a combined set of works explores a storyline of both having to leave home as well as witnessing one’s past all set amidst a backdrop of intercontinental migration, massive pollution from plastics overuse, and global political unrest.

The search for belonging and for one’s tribe is a central theme. Individual pieces, while still part of the larger set, present their own story and content. As such, there is space for flexibility, open-endedness, and interpretation in each piece and as a whole collection. 

Tinker Toys prominently appear in the collection and serve as the artist’s initial inspiration.

Litewski dumped out a carton of tinker toys and started “playing” with them to coax out a solution for a piece he was working on in another series. The resulting smell and touch of the familiar wooden wheels and colored sticks elicited a flood of childhood memories for the artist. This created a strong desire to use the materials in future projects that would both challenge him as an artist while also visually challenging his viewers.

Litewski found the Tinker Toy inspiration earthshaking. “I’m surprised all the time at what happens in my studio when I allow myself the freedom to think, problem-solve, and explore in order to create and sometimes we make a thousand mistakes in order to make something truly unique,” he said.  

Characteristics of the new exhibition include assorted wood applications, vintage toy constructions such as houses, spaceships and figurines, CNC carved houses and figurines and wall-dependent reliefs, 3D printed plastics, recyclables, graphite drawings, painted environments on canvas, and artist-made custom frames.

A key aspect of the collection is Litewski’s willingness to explore how artwork is presented. The artist sought to broaden how and what a frame is, what it could mean, and how it could impact the presentation of his compositions. Examples include using the backside of pre-stretched canvases as a starting point, combining multiple canvases into connected, adjoining arrangements, and including 3D elements outside the frame.  

The collection also includes several self-portraits. “These pieces do not depict how I look but instead reflect how I felt at certain moments in time during certain stories of my own,” said Litewski.

Through “Finding Space & Other Stories” Litewski presents the universal story of going forward and pushing through while looking back, then unpacking & re-examining once again as we arrive at our new destination, all while ultimately understanding that “finding space” is always possible.

The Evanston Art Center is located at 1717 Central Street in Evanston IL. For more information about the exhibition, visit  Admission is free. Metered street parking is available.   

To learn more about Michael Litewski and his art, visit Litewski, who lives and works in Zion IL, is an Affliate Artist at the Blue Moon Gallery in Grayslake IL and is also a member of the Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists and Chicago Sculpture International.  ### 

"Building Our New Home"


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