Month: June 2018

Unwavering Motivation: Victoria Martinez’s Mark on Chicago

Victoria Martinez is on a mission: to catalyze and foster change by making art in the neighborhood where she grew up in, Pilsen. Over the last eight years, she has evolved her making and teaching work into a deliberate community-based practice that encourages empowerment through material exploration and collaboration. The mixed media and installation artist sees her next step as building an artistic practice that is not only creatively rigorous but also financially sustainable to continue investing in the Mexican folks of Pilsen, whose home is being whitewashed by gentrification. Now, after grappling with the question of graduate school for years, she departs for Yale School of Art this fall to pursue an MFA in painting, embarking on a new chapter in her practice and temporarily leaving Chicago. “My work in Pilsen and in Chicago isn’t done,” she asserts as we share a meal at Currency Exchange Cafe, right next door to her studio at the Arts Incubator. As a working-class artist grounded in community, her decision to attend graduate school comes at a time …

Home to Self: An Interview with Preetika Rajgariah

When talking to artist Preetika Rajgariah about how she arrived at her most recent body of work, I was struck by how a lexicon of movement naturally developed. She spoke about the strategies her family used to recreate the feel, warmth, and comfort of a home that was thousands of miles and oceans away after they settled in the city of Houston. She talked about how travel and relocation punctuated significant shifts in her work. She told me how one of her most commercially successful bodies of work addresses concepts of migration and accumulation but also whispers to how, aesthetically, macro perspectives mimic the micro and cellular. But while motion might be one of the most immediately legible themes that one can draw out of her work, it is stillness that has actually allowed her practice to move forward in substantial and  illuminating ways. Having discernment around what advice, suggestions, constructive criticisms are valid and useful and which ones counter her progression has allowed her work to bloom in ways that disrupt her original understandings of …

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Leather Archives and Museum

The Chicago Archives + Artists Project (CA+AP) is an initiative that highlights Chicago archives and special collections that give space to voices on the margins of history. Led by Chicago-based writers and artists, the project explores archives across the city via online features, a series of public programs and new commissioned artwork by Chicago artists. For 2018, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has funded a series of pilot projects pairing three artists with three archives around the city: Media Burn + Ivan Lozano, the Leather Archives & Museum + Aay Preston-Myint, and the Newberry Library’s Chicago Protest Collection + H. Melt. This series of articles will profile these featured archives and artists over the course of their collaboration, exploring the vital role of the archive in preserving and interpreting the stories of our city as well as the ways in which they can be a resource for creatives in the community. The CA+AP Festival will take place at Read/Write Library on July 13-14. For this installment, we sat down with Mel Leverich, the archivist …

The Aesthetics of Displacement at The Strange Fields of This City

It is rare that a show’s theme so closely mirrors the circumstances of the gallery where it is being exhibited as well as The Strange Fields of This City, curated by Greg Ruffing and features the work of  HATCH Projects Residents Alejandro Waskavich, Haerim Lee, and William Camargo,  on view until June 14th. Along with Brent Fogt’s Do Something Else, it is the last show at Chicago Artists Coalition’s space at 217 N. Carpenter before they move to their new location 2130 W. Fulton. Facing the same pressures of space and development that the show tackles, along with expanding needs, CAC is finding itself having to relocate, like many other arts organizations in Chicago. Peering into the gallery’s windows to see William Camargo’s oversized, rasquache-style advertising signs of Cultura a la Renta critiquing displacement, it is difficult to ignore the construction noises of the high rise going up across the street. Gentrification is in part a war of aesthetics. A war of the undifferentiated, the sameness of developers using profit maximizing, corner-cutting tricks to convince people …

Retelling Lives on the South Side through Film: South Side Home Movie Project

As a Hyde Parker, I hear about the South Side Home Movie Projects (SSHMP) frequently. I’m a hop, skip, and jump away from their front doors; I’m a short bike ride away from where their current exhibition is located. But I’m always surprised to hear that other people, in other parts of our city, are unaware of their presence, and their promising initiative to archive, collect, restore, and preserve the South side’s history. The SSHMP’s mission is to focus on the people who live here, who have lived here, and who will live here. Their process of researching and exhibiting home movies from the South side of Chicago is reinstating an untold legacy and offering access to views of life on the best side. What follows is a Q + A interview with Candace Ming, the Project Manager and Archivist at the SSHMP. S. Nicole Lane: When did you get into archiving? How did you end up at the the Southside Home Movie Project? Candace Ming: After graduating from American University with a degree in film production I became interested …

This image shows Anna Kunz’s exhibition Color Cast at the Hyde Park Art Center, a series of curtain-like textiles and wall paintings turn the gallery into an immersive experience of color, light, and physical sensation. Anna Kunz Color Cast installation view, 2018, at Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Photo courtesy of Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago.

Anna Kunz: Color Cast at Hyde Park Art Center

In her exhibition Color Cast, Anna Kunz approximates an experience of the world from the inside of a color field painting. The artist has draped the soaring central gallery of the Hyde Park Art Center with gauzy fabrics painted in a mottled palette of primary and secondary colors. The textiles echo—and in some cases directly index—a series of mural-sized wall paintings and paintings on the floor and in the corners and doorways, gently immersing viewers in a multisensory experience of color. Pulling apart paint and ground, color and surface, Kunz’s installation opens up physical and psychic space in which to consider the haptic, affective qualities of abstract painting. It also gestures towards the medium’s embeddedness in social relations and ability to reconfigure them in small but meaningful ways. Enchanting as its visual pleasures are, Kunz’s work is grounded in a rigorous concern for process. The wall paintings are actually monotypes of a sort; Kunz made them in situ by applying large pieces of porous, meshy fabric directly to the walls, then overpainting them with delicate …

Queens Who Bathe and Queer Visibility

Andie Meadows (Miss Meadows) is a queer photographer in Chicago whose photographic project, “Queens Who Bathe” immediately pulled me in to their overarching work. New and familiar faces, elegant poses, and dramatic looks occupy the project’s life on Instagram. What is also notable are the descriptions and mentions in the caption that illustrate the importance of collaboration and how artists, creatives, activists, and performers make up the vibrant and growing Chicago family. I met with Andie at the WasteShed—a resource that provides repurposed arts, crafts, and materials—where we discussed queer history, building a space in their tub, and the vulnerability involved when being photographed. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: You said you plan events for the Chicago History Museum? Andie Meadows: Yeah, so it’s called “The Out Committee.” It’s a volunteer committee that’s been going for fifteen years. I’ve been on it for two. They do a season of programs, usually it’s three or four. I’m working to get them to do more throughout the year, because I am not just gay for [Pride] …

Body Passages: Exploring Visual Art with Poets Lorraine Harrell and David Nekimken

This is the second article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center (the first is here). This series gives brief looks into a 10-month, interdisciplinary creative process between Body Passages poets and dancers, documenting and reflecting on aspects of that process as it happens. On an afternoon in early May, I showed up to watch an “open rehearsal” at the Chicago Cultural Center’s dance studio only to find myself a participant. This opportunity became even more exciting when the people I was there to see—Lorraine Harrell and David Nekimken, two delightful and effervescent poets who were in residence through Body Passages—invited me to join them as they sought inspiration and inputs in the galleries. We spent an hour together exploring the Cultural Center’s first-floor exhibitions, as the pair shared their observations and perspectives about visual artworks, made connections to their own lives and practices, and generated ideas for a joint creative project—an interdisciplinary, in progress work, prompted by their participation in Body Passages. A …

Community Archiving and Volunteer Orientation for the Chicago Archives + Artists Festival: Art Design Chicago Edition

Sun, July 8, 2018 | 12:30-2:30pm RSVP for the Festival Leading up to the Chicago Archives + Artists Festival: Art Design Chicago Edition at Read/Write Library on July 13th and 14th, Sixty Inches From Center will host a community archiving training session for those interested in volunteering for the festival or learning about basic archival and cataloging practices. After our session, you’re welcome to stick around and join their New Volunteer Orientation and Community Open House. This session is a requirement for those who will be volunteering for the festival, but free and open to those who just have a curiosity for archiving.  If you’re interested in volunteering, please complete the form below and we will contact you at the end of June with more details. The festival has the following schedule: Friday, July 13th 1-5:30pm: Event set-up 5:30 – 9:30pm: Archive Mixer + Artist Project Reveal Saturday, July 14th 10:30am – 2:30pm: 1st Shift for Festival Volunteers 2:30-6:30pm: 2nd Shift for Festival Volunteers 6:30pm – 9:30pm: 3rd Shift for Festival Volunteers Sunday, July 15th 12pm – 3pm: Event Breakdown

Featured image: This is a photograph of a group of people in a dance studio, sitting in a circle of chairs. Some people have their backs to the camera, and other people are shown straight-on or in profile. The two chairs nearest the camera are unoccupied, creating a window to the speaker, a man holding a microphone. Photograph by Hannah Siegfried.

Body Passages: Poets and Dancers Discuss Collaborative Processes In Progress

This is the first article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center. This series gives brief looks into a 10-month, interdisciplinary creative process between Body Passages poets and dancers, documenting and reflecting on aspects of that process as it happens. Launched in 2017, Body Passages is the brainchild of co-founders Sara Maslanka (Artistic Director of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble) and Natasha Mijares (Reading Series Curator of The Chicago Poetry Center; Natasha also writes for Sixty). This innovative, interdisciplinary partnership brings together artists of various forms—poets and dancers, ostensibly, but many with practices extending beyond those bounds—over the course of 10 months to create original, collaborative work engaging language and movement. The 2018 cohort is comprised of 14 broadly diverse artists at different points in their artistic growth, who are together interrogating this year’s theme—“Activation”—and developing new work in response. Following December auditions, their process formally began in January when selected poets and dancers were assigned into groups and will officially conclude in October with final …

Intimate Justice: Amanda Joy Calobrisi

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to Amanda Joy Calobrisi about the confrontation of a body, ending war by lifting skirts, and Boudoir photographs in Amanda’s Pilsen apartment over donuts.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: What brought you to Chicago? Amanda Joy Calobrisi: I went to SAIC for graduate school. So Charlie and I moved out here for that. It was a big move. It’s scary, to move states. It’s really intense, there’s something of course exciting about it but it’s also kind of scary. And my mom—I grew up with a single parent—so it also felt like I was abandoning my family. That was kind of huge. But once we got here, we were pretty excited to be out of Boston. I don’t think we realized how settled we were there, not because we wanted to be but because it was comfortable. SNL: Yeah, and the …