The New UnNatural

Exhibition on display: February 1, 2019-March 31, 2019
Opening reception: February 1, 2019, 6-9pm
The Ukrainian Museum of Art | Chicago, IL

Curated by Robin Dluzen and Mary Lou Zelazny.

In "The New UnNatural," seven female artists examine the modern grotesque. The genre of the "grotesque" is ancient, with examples from every culture and period. Ranging from the fanciful to the hideous, hybridized figurative forms have been used by artists around the world as satire, commentary, ornamentation and ritual. For the artists in "The New UnNatural," Laurie Hogin, Amanda Elizabeth Joseph, Renluka Maharaj, Julie Potratz, Chloe Seibert, Maria Tomasula and Mary Lou Zelazny, the attraction to rough or deformed amalgamations is both personal and political. 

In embracing the unsettling, the absurd and the repulsive, the artists in this exhibition eschew the notion of the "beautiful," not as a feminist critique of "beauty" or its representation in art; rather, the grotesque offers a means of coping with the rising anxieties and overstimulation of our times: a callous of sorts to strengthen one's ability to withstand inescapable bombardment of stimuli. 

So too does the grotesque provide a vehicle for power and self-assertion, especially in the hands of women. Through the violent, technicolor chimeras of Hogin's paintings; Joseph's hyperreal, emphatically flawed female bodies; Maharaj's sensual, macabre rituals; Potratz's exaggerated, uncanny costumed performances; Seibert's ghastly, crudely wrought faces; Tomasula's viscous still-lifes; and the mongrel, Frankenstein-ed figures of Zelazny's works, each artist projects a vision of the unexpectedly terrifying that reveals a visceral female sensibility.


Elmhurst Art Museum.jpg
  • On display…
    Elmhurst Art Museum | Elmhurst, IL

    What Came After: Figurative Painting in Chicago 1978-1998
    , curated by Suellen Rocca, features several paintings by Mary Lou Zelazny. The show will run from September 2019 - January 2020.

  • On display…
    Keystone Gallery | Los Angeles, CA

    Ineffable, curated by Lorraine Heitzman, includes a series of paintings by Lou Carney (alias of Mary Lou Zelazny). The show will run through the month of March 2019.




  • On display…
    Elmhurst Art Museum | Elmhurst, IL

    The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists, curated by Suellen Rocca, features paintings by Zelazny, several Chicago Imagists and other Chicago artists. A symposium and panel discussion with Dan Nadel, Frank Trankina and Mary Lou Zelazny accompanies the exhibition.

  • On display…
    Stuart & Co. Gallery | Chicago, IL

    Paintings by Lou Carney (alias of Mary Lou Zelazny) are shown for the first time in Images on File, curated by Robin Dluzen.

  • On display…
    The Research House for Asian Art | Chicago, IL

    A City to Wear 2.0, curated by Yidan Pang & Linglin Yan, features work by Zelazny and others.

  • In print…
    Voyage Chicago interviews Mary Lou Zelazny. Read more here.

  • On display…
    Frederick Holmes and Company | Seattle, WA

    Come Back with a Warrant, curated by Tony Fitzpatrick, features works by Lou Beach and Zelazny among others. 

  • In the news…
    Top Ten, Art & Antiques, May 2019.

  • On display…
    Carl Hammer Gallery | Chicago, IL

Mary Lou Zelazny's fifth solo exhibition with Carl Hammer Gallery - entitled Vivarium - opens Friday, March 2, 2018. Featuring new mixed-media floral paintings and tree portraits. 

Click here for the catalog.

Contact below for inquiries:

Carl Hammer Gallery
(312) 266-8512


  • In residence..
    AIR | Krems, Austria

    Zelazny awarded one of two SAIC-faculty summer residency fellowships at the Kunstmeile Krems: AIR - Artist in Residence Program. 

  • On display…
    The Ed Paschke Center | Chicago, IL

    Zelazny is invited to contribute to Anne Harris's drawing project series, The Mind's Eye, which asks artists to create a 12" x 12" on-site self-portrait. 


  • On display…
    The Research House for Asian Art | Chicago, IL

    Analog RAM, curated by Mary Lou Zelazny, features the work of over 120 young artists in an extensive series of collaborative collages, assembled from drawings made over 6 years in Zelazny's course Figure Painting — From Photo to Memory.

    See the collection now as a permanent addition to the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Viewings available by appointment.



  • On display…
    The Museum of Contemporary Art | Curated by Lynne Warren | Chicago, IL

    Zelazny's painting, Sea Walker, on view in Surrealism: The Conjured Life at the MCA.

    (Photo: Adrian Gaut. Click image to enlarge view.)

  • On display…
    Elmhurst Art Museum | Elmhurst, IL

    Selections from the Cleve Carney Bequest presents selections from a collection of 300 works bequeathed to the museum by Cleve Carney (1939-2013), a prominent Chicago-area contemporary arts collector and arts supporter. 


  • On display…
    Carl Hammer Gallery | Chicago, IL

    New Works, a solo exhibition of Zelazny's runs April through May 2014 at Carl Hammer Gallery. See paintings from the exhibition here. 

    In the press…
    ~ Mary Lou Zelazny at Carl Hammer Gallery, James Yood, Art LTD, August 2014.

  • On display…
    The National Veterans Art Museum | Chicago, IL

    The Exquisite Corpse of the Unknown Veteran is a project organized by Jeanne Dunning and Aaron Hughes. The first iteration of this project was featured in the Surrealism & War exhibit at the National Veterans Art Museum. Zelazny partnered with Lisa Boumstein-Smalley and Geoffry Smalley to create a drawing titled The Exquisite Corpse of Stanistaw Zelazny.

    "I have chosen my father, Stanislaw Zelazny, because of his WWII experiences. In 1938, at the age of 14, he was kidnapped from his home by the German military for slave labor. 40,000 to 50,000 children aged 14 to 15 were abducted in operation 'Heu-Aktion.' The term means harvesting the hay. After the liberation, my father joined the British reconstruction forces."
    Mary Lou Zelazny  

  • In print…
    Mission at Tenth Interarts Journal | San Francisco, CA

    Made of Iron appears as the cover of Mission at Tenth, Volume 5, published by the California Institute of Integral Studies. Other paintings by Zelazny are also included within the text.


  • In cinema…
    Consuming Spirits by Chris Sullivan | New York, NY

    Consuming Spirits, an animated feature length film by Chris Sullivan, releases on December 12th, 2012 in New York City. The small cast of this movie includes the work of voice actors Mary Lou Zelazny, Chris Sullivan, Judith Rafael, Robert Levy, Nancy Andrews and Chris Harris.

    About the film : 
    ~ Bones in the Woods, Family Secrets in the Heart, A.O. Scott, The New York Times, December 11, 2012.
    ~ The 100 Best Animated Movies, Dave Calhoun and Joshua Rothkopf, TimeOut Los Angeles, May 18, 2014.
    ~ Consuming Spirits, John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter, December 11, 2012.


  • On display…
    Elmhurst College | Elmhurst, IL

    Flags and Swagsa solo exhibition of paintings by Zelazny made between 1996 - 2008 on view the month of March 2011 as part of Elmhurst College Women’s History Exhibition Series.

  • On display…
    C33 Gallery, Colombia College | Chicago, IL

    Zelazny featured in the exhibition This is Paul Halupka, curated by Jessica Cochran.

    About the exhibition :
    ~ A regular guy inspires This is Paul Halupka, Lauri Apple, The Chicago Reader, June 30, 2011.

  • On display…
    Peter Paul Luce Gallery, Cornell College | Mount Vernon, IA

    Mixed-media paintings by Zelazny feature in the exhibition Cut Ups.



  • On display…
    Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, San José State University | San José, CA

    Chicago Imagism(s), curated by James Yood, exhibits works by Mary Lou Zelazny as well as Chicago artists Roger Brown, Jim Nutt, Hollis Sigler, Karl Wirsum and others….

  • On display…
    The School of the Art Institute of Chicag, Sullivan Galleries | Chicago, IL

    Touch and Go: Ray Yoshida and His Spheres of Influence was a large retrospective of Yoshida's work held at the SAIC. The retrospective also featured selections from Yoshida's private collection, which included the work of Mary Lou Zelazny and other students that Yoshida influenced and later collected throughout his teaching career. 

    About the exhibition:
    ~ Ray Yoshida's Foresight, John Yau, Hyperallergic, December 13, 2015

    Yoshida's private collection now resides at the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI.

    About the collection :
    ~ Reviving the Spirit of an Artist Through His Personal Collection, Jillian Steinhauer in conversation with Karen Patterson, Hyperallergic, January 15, 2014

  • On display…
    O'Connor Art Gallery, Dominican University | River Forest, IL

    Twos, curated by Karsten Lund and others, pairs the work of Mary Lou Zelazny and John Stezaker.


  • On display…
    The Hyde Park Art Center | Chicago, IL

    Thirty years of mixed-media paintings are presented in Zelazny's first retrospect, Altogether Mutable: the Work of Mary Lou Zelazny, at the Hyde Park Art Center from February 1, 2009 through April 12, 2009. Accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with text by curator and director of the Hyde Park Art Center, Allison Peters Quinn, and author John Haskell. More information about the retrospective here.


  • On display…
    The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sullivan Galleries | Chicago, IL

    Ahh, Decadence!, curated by Lisa Wainwright, highlights works by Chicago-based artists Mary Lou Zelazny, Nick Cave, Jim Lutes, Tony Fitzpatrick and Phyllis Bramson among others.



  • On display…
    The Union League Club | Chicago, IL

    The Lake is Not an Ocean, a solo exhibit featuring paintings by Zelazny at the Union League Club.

  • On display…
    Carl Hammer Gallery | Chicago, IL

    Repeating the Habit, a solo exhibition of new work by Zelazny opens March through April 2007 at Carl Hammer Gallery. See paintings from the exhibition here.