Month: February 2017

Crossing Grounds: Between Private and Public Space

On a calm residential street in Springfield, Illinois, stands a modest, white bungalow. Visible from the sidewalk, two wooden boards, nailed to each of the home’s two front porch pillars with “D-E-M-O” in vertical black print, hint at what’s inside. DEMO Project, a home converted into a gallery, is scheduled for demolition in 2018. The gallery showcases contemporary artists in a novel setting that exists at the intersection of an intimate domestic space and a white-wall gallery. Early this February, I traveled to Springfield for DEMO’s exhibitions of Emily Ward Bivens and Frances Lightbound, a show featuring two artists who reexamine our relationships with public and private space. Entering through the front door, visitors encounter the work of Emily Ward Bivens. Contextual Discrepancy is located in the larger exhibition space of DEMO Project – an open, white room containing details that remind us of the space’s previous life as a home. Bivens’ work is arranged around and within the preexisting structures. On the right side of the room, a set of three feather hats inhabit …

Smiling Behind the Sun: An Interview with Vincent Wade

Libyans sometimes refer to being arrested and taken away without warning as being “taken behind the sun.” This interview series celebrates—through conversations with formerly-incarcerated artists and their allies—the ways in which an artistic, creative life can transmute the impact and redefine the legacy of an experience within the Prison Industrial Complex.  In 1984, Vincent Wade was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, based on a confession tortured out of him by Chicago police detectives. He spent 31 years in state prison, teaching and working as an artist in every available medium, sharpening his skills for the day he would walk free. On August 14, 2015—years after proof of systematic torture and coercion by the Chicago Police Department was uncovered—Vincent was finally released. While groups like Chicago Torture Justice Memorials continue to fight on behalf of Chicago police torture survivors, Vincent remains focused on the thing that got him through more than three decades behind bars: his art. We sat down just south of Washington Park to talk about Vincent’s artistic mentors, his …