Hollis Sigler MMoCA Collects

American, 1947–2001

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Hollis Sigler. © Estate of Hollis Sigler.
Hollis Sigler, You Worry About Its Success, oil on canvas, 1987.

Hollis Sigler is a distinguished feminist artist whose work began to be recognized in the early 1980s. She received her M.F.A. from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 1973 and began teaching at Columbia College in Chicago in 1978. From the very beginning, her art took the form of a continuing pictorial journal whose entries were paintings, drawings, prints, watercolors, and collages. She filled her works with autobiographical references to family and friends and explored the layered and poignant nature of human relationships.

In 1985, Sigler was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a recurrence, her work took a decided shift. She now addressed her responses to her illness and reflected upon the complex emotional nature of fighting a potentially terminal disease. She began what would become her Breast Cancer Journal, whose entry count would be over one hundred works in various media. Her characteristic presentation of subjects was often a gathering of radiantly colored objects in a proscenium-like setting. Her dramas are enacted by things, not human figures, which serve as metaphors for her states of mind. Recurring objects, such as a vanity and mirror, a dead and broken tree, and her mother's dress, are symbols for personal, familial, medical, and political statements. Her expressionist and magic realist styles, vibrant color, and Surrealist tone tie Sigler to the earlier traditions of Chicago Imagism. In 2001, the artist succumbed to her illness.

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Related Topics

Suggested Readings

Sigler, Hollis. Breast Cancer Journal. Manchester, Vermont: Hudson Hills Press, 1999.

Lesson Plans

Hollis Sigler, You Worry About Its Success, 1987, oil on canvas, 65 1/2 x 89 1/2 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through funds bequested by Elizabeth Harris. 1987.04 © Estate of Hollis Sigler.

Hollis Sigler. © Estate of Hollis Sigler.