Hollis Sigler (1948 - 2001)

10/9/09 - 1/10/10: Rockford Art Museum, IL,
travels to Chicago Cultural Center, IL 1/30/10 - 4/4/10

Hollis Sigler received her B.F.A. in 1970 from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, spending her junior year abroad in Florence, Italy, and her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1973. She has been honored with numerous grants and awards including a National Endowment for the Arts grant for painting in 1987 and an Honorary Doctorate from Moore College of Art in 1994. She has been a Professor of Art at Columbia College in Chicago for twenty years.

The artist’s work has been included in hundreds of national group exhibitions including the “1981 Whitney Biennial”, the "1985 Corcoran Biennial” and “Art in Chicago 1945-1995” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 1996. A mid-career retrospective exhibition was shown at the Akron Art Museum in 1986 and traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center in 1987. Solo exhibitions of the recent “Breast Cancer Journal” series have taken place at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, in 1993, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 1994, and the Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock in 1996.


Akron Art Museum, OH
American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Arthur Anderson, Inc., Chicago, IL
AT&T, Chicago, IL
Baltimore Museum of Art, MD
Bank America Corporation, New York, NY
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY
Chicago Tribune Corportion, Chicago, IL
Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH
First Bank, Minneapolis, MN
First National Bank, Chicago, IL
Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, MO
Harold Washington Library, Chicago, IL
Hechinger Corporation, Landover, MD
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
Johns Hopkins Hospital Oncology Center, Baltimore, MD
Kemper Group, Long Grove, IL
Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, Peoria, IL
Lang Communications, New York, NY
Madison Art Center, WI
Milwaukee Art Museum, WI
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, IA
The Progressive Corporation, Mayfield Village, OH
Prudential, South Plainfield, NJ
Rivendell Foundation, Wyoming and New York
Rockford Art Museum, IL
Seattle Art Museum, WA
David and Alfred Smart Gallery, University of Chicago, IL
Spencer Art Museum, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
The State Department of the United States, Washington, DC
The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Honolulu, HI
3M Corporation, St. Paul, MN
University Art Gallery, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
University Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
University of New Mexico, University Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ,
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.


Hollis Sigler: Breast Cancer Journal: Walking with the Ghosts of My Grandmothers, exhibition catalog, Rockford College Art Gallery, 1993.

Hollis Sigler: The Breast Cancer Journal, exhibition catalog, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1994.

Hollis Sigler’s Breast Cancer Journal, monograph published by Hudson Hills Press, New York, 1999.

In the unfolding of life, every minute is precious
oil on canvas  with painted frame, 32 x 36", 1995
Baltimore Museum of Art, Gift of Wendy Jachman, Baltimore. MD

Installation of Hollis Sigler, To Kiss The  Spirits: Now This Is What It Is  Really  Like,
oil on canvas  with painted frame, 66 x 66", 1993
at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC,  summer 2015.
Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in memory of the artist.

Good Time Just Passing Through, 1983
Oil on canvas, 60 x 60"
Collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in memory of the artist

Desire Released, 1983
Oil on canvas with painted frame, 62 x 62"
Exhibited 1985 Corcoran Biennial, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, traveled to several other museums in 1985

A Part Of Her Life Remains Beyond Her Reach, 1984
Oil on canvas with painted frame, 64 1/2 x 64"

The Lady Desires The Divine For Herself, 1990
Oil on board with painted frame, 16 1/2 x 19 1/2"

You Never Know When She Will Arrive, But She's Never Invited, 1998
Oil pastel on paper with painted frame, 29 x 34"

Hope Is Out There...Waiting For Us To Find Her, 1996
Oil pastel on paper with painted frame, 29 x 34"

I know I am not alone. I can turn over my fears of cancer and death to my higher self. It gives me strength. Strength comes from standing firm with the support of others. Strength is love, 1997
Cut paper collage with painted frame, 30 3/4 x 30 3/4"

She Dares To Dream Of Her Desires 1996
Watercolor monotype with painted frame, 27 1/2 x 33 1/2"

Seeking Out An Island Of Peace 1994
Watercolor monotype with painted frame, 27 x 33"

Taking Stock Of Her Situation 1996
Lithograph, Edition of 20, 20 x 26"

She Dreams Of Escaping To Hope, 1997
Etching with drypoint with printed mat and painted frame, 26 1/4 x 31" framed

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3



Since 1975 Chicago artist Hollis Sigler (born 1948) has executed narrative paintings, drawings, and prints in a faux-naive manner. Influenced by a reaction against the lack of emotion of the photorealist paintings she began in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as by her exposure to feminism, Chicago imagism and outsider art, Sigler’s mature work is deliberately unsettling. Her unpeopled room interiors and fanciful landscapes depict the debris of an incident already climaxed. These scattered objects (along with the provocative handwritten titles appearing on each piece) convey not the cause but the effect of the drama on the departed heroine, whom Sigler acknowledges is her alter-ego.

Intensely personal and psychologically complex, her work depicts the pain and anger of feeling victimized by parents, lovers and her own fears and inadequacies, as well as her effort to hide her hurt by exploring her innermost desires and dreams of escape. The emotional impact of her autobiographical “confessions” stems from her sophisticated use of high keyed, jarring color combinations; skewed perspectives; intensely agitated expressionistic stroking; and a deceivingly childlike style in order to convey adult subject matter. The great irony of her work lies in the fact that her spontaneous, naive style allows the viewer some distance and the artist some self-protection from states of mind that would be quite unendurable if presented realistically. The viewer can freely enter her suddenly vacated settings and explore their several layers of meaning.

Ms. Sigler was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985; her mother and great-grandmother died from the disease. When the cancer metastasized to her bones in 1992, she began the critically acclaimed series, “The Breast Cancer Journal”, composed of oil paintings, oil pastel drawings, cut paper collages, monotypes and lithographs. The artist incorporates handwritten medical research as well as personal diary entries directly on the frames and borders of each piece, conveying her own spiritual and emotional journey as a breast cancer patient. The artist expresses acceptance and hope despite her continuing struggle with the disease through the recent works in this exhibition.

Steven Scott. Essay from May-June, 1998 exhibition. RECENT PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS, CUT PAPER COLLAGES AND PRINTS FROM THE “BREAST CANCER JOURNAL” series. Steven Scott Gallery, Baltimore MD