New gallery exhibit evokes wonder


Ishani Hariprasad

Seniors Asha Patel and Graham Robbins look at the art on display at the opening the Corvus Gallery showcase on Sept. 30.

Amon Gray, Sports and Leisure Editor

The sun glints off a metal lance clutched in one of the four green arms of an alien atop an eight-legged mount. Leaping out of the desert, science fiction hero John Carter swings his sword. 

This illustration was created by J. Allen St. John was featured on the cover of “Amazing Stories” magazine in 1941, but several years later the original art was hung in the bedroom of a young Stephen Korshak by his father, Erle Korshak. That piece became the first in their collection of fantasy and science fiction illustrations that they built together over the years.

Through Nov. 18, 27 illustrations from the collection selected by Stephen Korshak and Gina Alicea, art teacher and gallery director are being featured in the Corvus Gallery in Gordon Parks Arts Hall. 

Stephen Korshak, a 1969 U-High alumnus, told the story behind the collection on alumni night, Sept. 30, at the opening reception for the showcase. 

“He put that painting in my bedroom and I projected myself into that story and I just had this sense of wonder when I saw this painting and this passion and I wanted to collect different illustrations that display that sense of wonder,” Mr. Korshak said. 

Both Stephen and his father were Lab alumni. Stephen Korshak talked about his experience at Lab during the gallery opening.

“That sense of wonder that was given to me by my father inadvertently by putting that painting in my bedroom, was nurtured by Lab and that critical thinking and how to analyze situations was helpful to me.” 

The works in the collection come from a multitude of illustrators from a variety of backgrounds. Mr. Korshak emphasized how while some of the artists were classically trained, others were not because at the time of their artistry, illustration was not considered real art. 

Some of the pieces featured are covers of pulp magazines like the J. Allen St. John piece. Others include more classic book illustrations, calendar art, and made-for-display paintings. All of them contain different styles unique to the genre, time period, and artist. The diversity of the collection brings a fascinating, all-encompassing perspective on illustration as an art form.

Ms. Alicea said that she has been in contact with Mr. Korshak since before the pandemic to feature some of the collection in the gallery. The entire collection was brought to Chicago this September for the World Science Fiction Convention that would be honoring the late Erle Korshak, so they took advantage of the opportunity to display the art for Lab students.

“I want to inspire Lab students to never lose that sense of wonder,” Stephen Koshak said. “There is a wonder to our life and a wonder to everything.”