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Suellen Rocca

Suellen Rocca is one of the original members of the Hairy Who, a group of six visionary artists who first exhibited together in Chicago in 1966. Early in her career Rocca developed a unique vocabulary of symbols — wedding rings, purses, and palm trees — inspired by advertising imagery. In her paintings and drawings she often arranged these images in repetitive patterns, creating compositions that have been likened to modern hieroglyphs. When asked about the source of her imagery, Rocca has cited “the cultural icons of beauty and romance expressed by the media that promised happiness to young women of that generation.” Since 1980 her work has increasingly combined this iconography with allusions to the body, animals, and plant life.

Suellen Rocca was born in Chicago in 1943 and currently lives in Romeoville, Illinois. Shortly after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1964, she began exhibiting with five other artists under the name the Hairy Who. The group’s exhibitions, which took place in Chicago and other cities between 1966 and 1969, drew national and international attention and went on to influence generations of artists. In 2016, Matthew Marks Gallery presented Rocca’s first one-person exhibition in New York, Suellen Rocca: Bare Shouldered Beauty, Works from 1965 to 1969. Her work is in the collection of numerous institutions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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