Dawn Kramlich

Dawn Kramlich, Elmhurst University

Dawn Kramlich, MFA

Assistant Professor, Painting & Drawing
Department of Art

Dawn Kramlich is a queer artist and writer from Philadelphia, PA who currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.

After 10 years of teaching as an adjunct at Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania State University, and Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Kramlich moved from Philly to Chicago in 2023 to take her position as the Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at Elmhurst University. With over a decade of experience teaching painting, drawing, sculpture, art appreciation, and art theory at the collegiate level, five years of experience working in the non-profit arts organization sector, experience creating wall-hanging 3D design pieces for clients such as The Logan Hotel in Philadelphia, and knowledge from working with galleries at major art fairs such as Pulse Miami, Volta NY, and Expo Chicago, Kramlich brings immensely versatile expertise to Elmhurst’s tight-knit liberal arts environment.

While earning her BA degree magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College as an Art and English double major, Kramlich produced the first cross-major creative honors thesis (paintings + poems) in the history of Muhlenberg’s English and Art departments. At this time, she also became a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a national honors society. Kramlich then moved to Philadelphia and earned her MFA summa cum laude in Studio Art from Moore College of Art & Design.

Kramlich’s artwork has always been language-based, combining visual and verbal languages into a complex signification system, and it most often takes the form of mixed-media encaustic paintings – though she also works in 3D with installation art. Her artistic practice involves research on semiotics, poetry (especially ekphrasis), Post-Structuralism, Intersectional Feminism, and the history of text-based American art.

Kramlich regularly lectures at institutions, has artwork appear in publications, and has her award-winning artwork exhibited widely across the US. She has also exhibited work internationally in Spain and Ireland. Recent solo exhibitions of Kramlich’s work include “A Capitalist Plaid” in 2024 at Pink Noise Projects in Philadelphia, PA and “Mark My Words” in 2023 at the Barbara Crawford Gallery. In 2022, the PHL International Airport commissioned Kramlich to create a painting which was scanned and printed at mural scale (7.5ft x 22ft) for the connector hallway just before Terminal F where it remained for over a year and a half. Notably, her work was included in group exhibitions such as Woodmere Art Museum’s  2023 Juried Exhibition, Maus Contemporary’s “Capitolism: The Normalization of Political Violence in the United States” exhibition in 2021 (with Willie Cole), Rowan University Gallery’s exhibition entitled “Dialogic” in 2013 (alongside John Giorno, Jaume Plensa, Jenny Holzer, and Glenn Ligon), and the 4-person installation-based exhibition entitled “PaperScapes” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance in 2017 (with Sun Young Kang).

Courses Taught: ART115; ART120; ART320; ART420; ART490; MLD300

My practice springs from my fascination with the text+image relationship and the freeing, yet limiting and inescapable, gaps in language. Humans must approach language as a closed system in order to achieve effective communication, but language has been and will always be an open system through which semiotics, context, and the subjective cause language to – however minorly or dramatically – shapeshift.

Since the advent of computer-mediated communication, today’s globalized expansion + contraction of language (think of Google Translate’s accessibility and fallibility, ChatGPT, or the daily misinterpretations of text messages) posits a new iteration of an old set of issues: e.g. miscommunication, authorship, ownership. Society’s inundation of text+image and text-as-image is fruitful ground for the restructuring of systems of power. Considering the latter, and our ongoing political climate, I often use words spoken to me by men as my materials, defining materiality as separate from physicality, and use the grid as a semiotic stand-in for the oppressive white, heteronormative patriarchy. My work challenges the power dynamics present in our system of – and perception of – language through the ways I handle and manipulate the text + image / text-as-image relationship.

Intersectional feminist values propel my work, as well as attempts at challenging the sweeping notion of an American psyche which strictly values that which is fiscally or numerically quantifiable – a problem that began in racist, capitalist, patriarchal “ideals” and continues across many channels in different forms. As an LGBTQ+ American woman, decoding power structures which underlie language use is dire – because few things are as powerful and political as language.

See more work on Dawn Kramlich’s website

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