Gallery Audio Tour

Grayslake Campus: A-Wing

Nicholas Sistler

Toy Firetruck | 2006.12 Pa

Audio Tour

In this audio clip the narrator describes Sistler's piece.
Length: 0:1:39 (one minute and thirty-nine seconds)

Would you like to download this MP3 file? (1.75MB)
Would you like to read the narration text?

About the Piece

Toy Firetruck, 2004
2006.12 Pa
4.25” x 3.5”

Exhibited at CLC: Nicholas Sistler & Tom Szewc: Inverse Proportions, 2006

Nicholas Sistler, a Chicago artist, creates a deep space and monumental scale within a very small format.

Narration Text

Chicago artist, Nick Sistler, executes such small paintings (some no larger than a business card) that it is amazing how much information he is able to pack within a few square inches. Despite our initial delight in the size, the magnificently intense color, and the precision of execution, we note something unsettling about his work…a disturbing darkness we can’t quite put our finger on. In Toy Firetruck we feel as though we have just stumbled into a potential crime scene. Sistler systematically manipulates the viewer deep into the space as he presents one piece of evidence after another. Our vantage point is from under a table. A toy firetruck is abandoned and overturned. The fluttering violet cloth gives a hint of recent movement in the room. The door is ajar and a red carpet runner is rumpled where another door has closed. Instinctively, as these clues start sinking in, we don’t want to look further, but we do! Subtly the light has changed: the bright chroma has shifted to black and white and adds to the enigma. The scene, portrayed on a screen, depicts a doctor examining a young patient. It seems to be a pleasant enough exchange, but somehow we don’t trust what we see. All the more unsettling is the fact that the frame is frozen and we are stuck under the table, forced to make of it what we will.

Conversations with Nick Sistler reveal his fascination for film noir. It is certain that some of the techniques of that genre play a large role in how he creates his own brand of dark mystery (Sistler).

Written by Jane Ellefson, Gallery Preparator, Robert T. Wright Gallery, College of Lake County.

Works cited:
Sistler, Nicholas. Personal Interview. 19 May 2006.