Closing the Loop: Fan Art, Part 2 / Hyperallergic

Marie Walz, “Nick Rhodes. Outer Space. Heart Waffles” (image via

Marie Walz, “Nick Rhodes. Outer Space. Heart Waffles” (image via

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part series on the intersection of fan art and contemporary art. Read part 1 here.

CHICAGO — Falling in love with an image isn’t easy. Images are unattainable, removed, and physically distant, yet they feel so real and right there with you. Images of people are also the teen crush embodied — an opportunity to fall head over heels for an idealized illusion of someone you may never meet. For part 1 of my series about the intersection of fan art and contemporary art, I wrote about the exhibition Love to Love You at Mass MOCA. In part 2, we look at two artists who own their fandom as a form of fluid adolescence.

Chicago-based artists Stacia Yeapanis and Marie Walz take fandom even further in their art, forgoing a toe dip in favor of diving right in. Their perspective suggests a continuation of adolescent desires, and their ongoing fan art performance projects suggest that we are never quite divorced from the teen and tween desires that fuel art making on deeper subconscious and psychological levels.

In all fan art, fiction, and video, there exists an important commonality: the work functions in a kind of fantasy space, a meeting of imagination and reality. Is it that really so different from contemporary art, wherein the artist delicately walks the line between art and life, never quite separating the two?

Walz’s adolescent fascination with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran is what initially and continually fuels her art making. Her ongoing Rhodes project began eight years ago, after Walz had a child and an existential crisis about her artwork. She began wondering why she was making it at all and then realized that, indeed, it was all Nick Rhodes’s fault — he was the reason she began in the first place, as a teenage girl. And so she returned to her initial inspiration to start creating again.

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