Don't clip this sculptor's style

Jefferson Park sculptor Donna Hapac is one of few artists whose works began with the purchase of 2,500 acrylic press-on fingernail extensions over the Internet.

Her odyssey through the wide world of fake nails began with a drawing of a sea cucumber. The results, a series of colorful, serpentine sculptures, were recently shown at the Merchandise Mart.

A similar sculpture, "Helix," will be part of an exhibition at the Flat File Gallery, 217 North Carpenter through August 22.

"I see artificial fingernails as decorative materials and would rather use them in sculpture than wear them", says Hapac.

She begins by drilling holes in the artificial nails and meticulously weaving them together with repeating patterns of beads and thread. One piece, "Creature II" is 78 inches long and has a neon wire woven inside that gives off a green light.

"My forms are like drawings freed from the page and expanded into three dimensions," says Hapac.

Hapac, who holds a master's degree in fine arts from Northern Illinois University, worked for years as a painter, and also served as director of Chicago's Textile Arts Center. There, she became inspired by the basketry shows, and began building flat sculptures out of cane and reeds.

In November, her work will be shown at Koscielak Gallery in Chicago and in the Spring of 2009 she will participate in a group show in Prague.