Susan Overmyer | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Susan Overmyer

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Susan Overmyer says that because of the "physical and emotional violence" her family subjected her to as a child, she learned to be invisible. Her 18 sculptures at Artemisia, most parts of series, show she's found a voice that's the opposite of aggression: these elegantly crafted works are movingly self-abnegating. For the seven "Cradled" pieces, she carved cedar into cradlelike shapes that are smooth over much of their outsides but heavily scored within. Too narrow for a baby, they're open at one end, creating a sense of both confinement and vulnerability. Embrace, which is made of ash, has a curvy, sheltering cavity; the dark stained wood seems to trap the light, pulling the piece inward, conflating protection and obliteration. The three fabric-and-beeswax "Cocoons" are less open. Candles fill the top opening of In That Quiet; text--"in that quiet / whisper / the / dawn"--is printed on the front. Candles and words together create hope, but the letters of the text are vanishingly small, suggesting a lingering fear of self-assertion. Artemisia, 700 N. Carpenter, through January 25. Hours are 11 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday; 312-226-7323.

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