Tom Torluemke: Fearsome Fable – Tolerable Truth

Gallery 4

Fearsome Fable – Tolerable Truth, a new work by Tom Torluemke, surrounds the viewer in either a grim or an uplifting landscape of the future in this unsettling and motivational exhibition. Through this large-scale apocalyptic installation, the artist proposes what life would look like following the current trajectory of destructive environmental, political, and social policies and behaviors. On an uplifting note, the artist also includes a utopian alternative installation to be revealed at certain times, allowing the public to reverse what has been done and envision a more responsible path for the future.Experience the playful, politically-charged art by Tom Torluemke—literally.

The site-specific immersive installation features two 170 foot murals and several abstract wooden sculptures intended to raise questions about the current economic, ecological, and civic state of the nation, as well as the individual’s role in it. Rendered in an exaggerated and illustrative style, Torluemke’s approach parallels educational Depression-era WPA murals to emphasize an accessible call to action. The mural is painted on double-sided boards, allowing viewers to physically turn it around at particular times throughout the exhibition. During these hands-on moments, the gallery will be transformed from a wasteland (on one side) to a utopia (on the other), depending on the collective action of the audience. While seeming to offer solutions, Torluemke presents the ideal society in a suspiciously artificial way, cautioning that paradise is never what it seems to be.

Video courtesy of MartinJon Garcia for Chicago Arts

About the artist:

Born and raised in Chicago’s inner city, Tom Torluemke has exhibited his paintings, sculptures, murals, and drawings extensively across the Midwest since 1980. His artwork has been shown in solo exhibitions at venues including the Chicago Cultural Center, South Bend Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and in group exhibitions across the nation. Permanent public art commissions by Torluemke in fiberglass, wood, and terrazzo tile can be seen in the Indianapolis/Marion County Public Library, the Indianapolis International Airport, and Purdue University-Calumet Campus, to name a few locations. He currently lives and works in Dyer, Indiana, where he and partner Linda Dorman ran the (now-defunct) respected contemporary art space, Uncle Freddy’s Gallery. Torluemke received a BFA from the American Academy of Art (Chicago) and is represented by Linda Warren Projects.