Deb Sokolow’s Wackadoodle World of Design

CHICAGO — A random survey of recent architectural news items includes descriptions of: eco-certified ultra-luxury resorts in the Red Sea, the fact that less than half of one percent of licensed architects in the United States are Black women, and an analysis of how Russia has targeted historic landmarks as part of its war on Ukraine.

In times like these, Deb Sokolow is an artist we very much deserve.

Sokolow, who was born in 1974 in Davis, California, but has lived in Chicago since 1996, makes architectural drawings. Well, not really. She uses graphite, wax crayons, colored pencils, ink, and collage to create two-and-a-half-dimensional artworks whose parts resemble the floor plans, sections, and elevations found in the traditional working drawings of architects — the extra half-dimension is for shallow folded paper components that pop out perpendicular to her otherwise flat surfaces. Plenty are the overlapping geometric shapes, handy perspectival lines, orderly grid markings, blueprint-like effects, and neat squarish handwriting. But you could sooner construct a building from my lunch than from Sokolow’s diagrams.

Featured image: Deb Sokolow, “Visualizing Building Materials Constructed from Mycelia” (2023), graphite, crayon, colored pencil, ink, and collage on Arches paper, 22 x 30 x 1 inches

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