Year: 2015

Be Way Better

  In order to be way better in every way, complete these 7 badge requirements in full. Then, find someone whose approval means everything to you and ask them to cut the above badge carefully along the dotted line and pin it on you so that everyone can see it. You’ll feel way better once you ARE way better! REQUIREMENTS Find a fitness regime that works for you, and smile the entire time you are doing it. This way, everyone will know that you are really enjoying it and do not find it unpleasant in any way. Subscribe to a magazine that writes articles about big, very important issues. As the magazines arrive each month, make a stack of them so it is easy for others to see that you value the knowledge inside of them. Make a promise to yourself that you will one day actually read them. Find all available scientific knowledge regarding health, fitness, and personal wellness, and make a graph organizing everything you found. Share your data with others so they too can benefit …

The Virus of Scarcity and The Culture of Abundance

We are born in the red: amongst the blood and flesh of our mothers—already indebted. What we owe our families—a debt of the body. And slowly the circle widens. Our debts to our friends: the price of acceptance; our debt to our communities: the price of civilization. Then come the banks, with credit cards and student loans and car loans and home loans and loans to pay off other loans until the entirety of our life is one big red circle of debt. * Like genes in the body, ideas make up a culture through a process of replication, interaction, and mutation. This is the basis of Richard Dawkins’ concept of the meme, which he defines as an “idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” But the strength of a meme—that is, the extent to which it has taken hold in society—does not denote any moral quality, or even suggest that it is the best, most efficient way of living. Instead of a healthy cell, an idea may be …

Challenging Silence: Making Space for Survivors in the Arts

Social stigmas and victim-blaming make finding a place where you can feel validated and supported an important part of the healing process when you are a survivor of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence. Everyone heals differently and some people find healing through the arts because it allows them to reclaim their stories and find a community. Yet, the arts community, as much as the rest of society, can harbor its own biases against hearing the narratives of survivors. Artists who are accused of assault or other forms of abuse may be fervently defended because their work is valued more than the safety of the survivor. The artistic work of survivors, the majority of which are women, may be dismissed because of its content. In addition to professional barriers for artists who are survivors, there might also be challenges in terms of safety – publicity for an event that advertises a survivor’s whereabouts might be the last thing that they want. Luckily, there are spaces and venues that are respectful of survivor’s needs and …

Inferno, Purgatory, or Paradise: An Interview with Sabina Ott

I call Sabina Ott “my eyes and ears to the Chicago art scene.” Her endless ability to wow with her art, which was on view from August 30 to January 4 in the huge-scale “here and there pink melon joy” at the Chicago Cultural Center, is matched by her commitment to present and support artists. She is intellectually and materially ambitious, and over the years I’ve developed a deeper understanding of her sensibility. Profoundly influenced by her mother, her work as an artist, teacher, and presenter is informed by a feminist ethic and explores the complicated, and at times ecstatic, space of transformation. Melissa Potter: What inspired you to become an artist?  I know your mother was a big influence on your work. Sabina Ott: I was always aware of my position as a woman artist—even if my response to cultural bias against women was sometimes confused. As a child, I wanted to have what I now call the privilege of the authoritative I: the privilege to access my subjectivity with the freedom that men seemed …

Gettin’ Down With The Underground

“..this impulse of artists building spaces and communities for themselves and struggling with the relevancy of their discipline to a broader public has a long history.”—Abigail Satinsky, Introduction to Support Networks “Meaning becomes compensated through its connection to an infrastructure. The infrastructure provides a chorus of intentions that facilitate a more robust interpretive model.”—Nato Thompson, “Contributions to a Resistant Visual Culture Glossary,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest In the above quotes from Support Networks, editor Abigail Satinksy and contributor Nato Thompson extol the legacy of DIY creative collectivity and resourcefulness. There’s an old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” In the spirit of that adage, I chose to have a conversation with three leaders in Chicago’s bustling experimental performance scene, each of whom has made their own way, their own way. Marie Casimir is the Associate Director of Links Hall, Latham Zearfoss is the co-producer of Chances Dances, and Kevin Simmons is the Founder and Acting Executive Director of High Concept Laboratories. I offer the following article as proof that the title …

Art without Artists: Against the Artist CEO

It is not enough to suppress the adversary if you do not erase her memory and her ability to organize an alternative project… In the face of this strategy, we can understand that the three primary functions of the testimonies are to accuse the executioners, to record the sufferings and the epics, to inspire the other combatants in the middle of retreat. A fourth function…is to carry out a rational analysis of the problems and the reversals that are being suffered… Above all, to accuse. Ariel Dorfman, “Political Code and Literary Code”   It’s a familiar experience to many of us in the arts. We receive a notification from Linkedln, informing us that someone in our network that has become a CEO. We are asked to click. Click Click. “Owner, Founder, CEO of XYZ Artistic Corporation.” Another reminder of how deep, how layered our loyalty to neoliberal capitalism has become. Is this supposed to be cute, pathetic or cruel? BFAMFAPHD and others already made it clear that MFAs are fundamentally objectionable and questionable degrees—we’re here …

We Just Wanna Make Crazy Weird Stuff!

  Carlos Matallana is a Bogotá-born and Chicago-based visual artist, a teacher, and a New Tech Curriculum developer. He has taught graphic design, web design, and comics in different after-school programs around Chicago since 2005. Currently he is working in his comic book Manual of Violence, which will be released by Mid 2015 http://manualofviolence.org/

Battle for Independents at PBS

On December 18, I was invited to attend a live-feed viewing of the National Black Programming Consortium’s panel on Digital Diversity. The conversation was framed around the upcoming application for serial projects about the Black experience, but I was there to glean some knowledge and to listen to Maria Hinojosa, host of Latino USA and founder of Futuro Media. I was welcomed into the group because of my affiliation with Diverse Voices in Docs. I ran into Gordon Quinn and Becki Stocchetti of Kartemquin Films, who were also accepting applications for the third round of DVID. Tony Williams, director of Carbonerdious: Rise of the Black Nerd, and I were there to represent the inaugural class. Jeff Baraka and Noel Occomy were there on behalf of the Year Two Fellows. WTTW hosted us, and we had time to do a round of introductions before the panel started. Gordon used the opportunity to talk about a decision that was making waves among indie filmmakers, especially the newly-formed Indie Caucus. “The Indie Caucus had come into existence before …

The Way You Move: A Prom Night Interview with Cecil McDonald, Jr.

We at Sixty are believers in the idea that some things can’t be taught. Some things are just in your blood. That sentiment comes to mind when thinking about the work, style and charisma of photographer Cecil McDonald, Jr. Like his fashion sense, Cecil’s photographs serve as evidence of an attention to detail and an appreciation for the overlooked that forces us to see and imagine our surroundings in a refreshing way. It is this eye and also his love for movement and music that put him on our list of Chaperones for Prom Night. Pay attention as he shares his relationship to fashion, inspirations and what will catch his eye for Prom Court. Sixty Inches From Center: How would you describe your personal style? Cecil McDonald, Jr.: Understated, classic, and unexpected. I like for looks to emerge where my ideas are not obvious or showy but once you notice hopefully you are captivated and I have created a memory for the viewer. This is starting to sound like my artist statement…yes, they are one in the same. …

Mixed, Matched and Embroidered: A Prom Night Interview with Victoria Martinez

“…my personal style [is] a mix and match of different patterns and hand-me-downs, such as accessories and scarves, earrings, embroidered shirts. Those are just the things I’m drawn to in my art and also with other people…” – Victoria Martinez Victoria Martinez knows fabrics well. She is a master of mixing electric textures and patterns in her fiber-based collages and urban interventions, which are directly reflected in her style of dress. In that way her art and her daily life are inextricably linked. Victoria’s art and its relationship to her style beautifully illustrates what’s at the heart of Prom Night–a linking of the art we love or make with how that creativity manifests in our everyday lives and familiar experiences we all share. This is one of many reasons that we have asked her to be a Chaperone and also an artist creating corsages/boutonnieres for Prom Night.  In this short video, produced by The Perch, Victoria describes her own style and what will potentially catch her eye when making her choices for Prom Court.       See what Victoria …

Penning and Personal Style: A Prom Night Interview with Britt Julious

“It’s my Bladerunner, freelance writer uniform…” Britt Julious, The Back Talk Britt Julious is a writer whose articles have graced the digital and printed pages of the Chicago Tribune, Vice, The Guardian, MTV News, WBEZ–the list goes on. When she’s not writing for these publications, you can find her intelligence, quick-wit and charm  in the form of Britticisms throughout the web. What you may not immediately know when reading her writing is that she has a stunning signature style that truly reflects the energy held within her words.   This is one of many reasons that we have asked her to be a Chaperone for Prom Night.  In this short video, produced by Prom Night collaborators Matt Austin and Jeff Austin, Britt discusses her own style and what will potentially catch her eye when making her choices for Prom Court.   Catch Britt’s attention during Prom Night at Chicago Art Department on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at 7pm. Get your Stag, Couple or Clique tickets HERE. Feature Image Credit: Matt Austin

Giving with Style: A Prom Night Interview with Esther Grisham Grimm

When someone introduces you to Esther Grisham Grimm there’s a good chance that the words thoughtful, sincere, gracious and good energy are woven in some form into that introduction. Not only is she the Executive Director of 3Arts, a foundation that gives substantial, unrestricted grants to women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities, but she is also a chic dresser with a playful signature style. Staying true to her giving nature, she has accepted our invitation to be one of our Chaperones for Prom Night. This means if you’re hoping to make it onto the Prom Court, then it would be in your best interest to listen closely as she describes her style, shares her sources of inspiration and describes what she will be looking for when putting in her selections for Prom Court. Sixty Inches From Center: How would you describe your personal style? Esther Grisham Grimm: That elusive middle ground between a Pedro Almodovar movie and Charlie Chaplin. I think I have a Baroque heart laced with Danny Kaye and Jimi Hendrix. SIFC: When did you first …

A Little Bit of Debbie Harry, a Little Bit of Jimi: A Prom Night Interview with Sadie Woods

Do you know Sadie Woods? If you’ve shared a room with her, that moment is likely etched in your memory. Sadie is a globetrotting curator, DJ, and artist whose style is impossible to miss. It is because of her sophisticated fashion sense that we have invited her to be one of our Chaperones for Prom Night.  This means if you’re coming to the event dressed to the nines and hoping to make it onto the Prom Court, then her eyes are a pair you want to catch. As we at Sixty, Autotelic Studios and The Perch prepare for the dance, we took a moment to have Sadie tell us about her relationship to fashion just before she jet-sets to Cuba.   Sixty Inches From Center: How would you describe your personal style? Sadie Woods: Mood. Refined grit with a little disco bling; hobo chic with a pinch of glam. I love to layer and incorporate metallic accents with accessories. SIFC: When did you first come into your own fashion sense? SW: I learned to do my hair …