All posts filed under: Curators

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Interview with D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem

This interview took place as part of an initiative occasioned by the first Chicago Archives + Artists Festival, held at the Chicago Cultural Center in May 2017. The festival kicked off a series of in-depth artist interviews, including this one with D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem, which will be contributed to the Chicago Artist Files at Harold Washington Library. This series of interviews was conducted with a group of artists, curators, instigators, and organizers who we believe are essential to the history of Chicago art. The interview with Denenge was conducted by Sabrina Greig and is excerpted below. In addition to this smaller group of Sixty-interviewed artists, a call was put out to ALL the city’s artists: #GetArchived! The core of the free festival was a pop-up archive processing center staffed by Sixty Inches From Center and volunteers. Many partners lent their time, resources, and high-res scanners(!) to this endeavor, including LATITUDE, the Visualist, and Read/Write Library. Sixty Inches From Center is excited to be continuing the Chicago Archives + Artists Project with support from the Gaylord and Dorothy …

Review: “Woman With A Camera” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

When I go to an art museum, I tend to be the type of person that stays a few hours too long. I arrive at the museum when it opens, and leave when it closes. Although most visitors do not put themselves through this rigorous stampede of images that for me always ends with an exhausting—but nevertheless satisfying—experience, most art museum-goers can relate to this kind of visual fatigue that often comes with the occasional visit, no matter how enjoyable the art. This is how I felt when I came across the breath of fresh air that was the exhibition Woman with a Camera at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) last month. The exhibition was located on the fourth floor of the museum, and I stumbled up the stairs to find an intimate, yellow space filled with photographs from powerful female icons on the forefront of photography such as Marina Abramović and Laurie Simmons, alongside work by artists I did not recognize, but will not soon forget. I was both pleasantly surprised and struck by the …

Art at Work: Georgia Schwender at Fermilab Art Gallery

In this series, we explore the idea of art institutions with a primary audience deliberately or functionally outside the field of art. These venues primarily focus on completely unrelated disciplines, but are also invested in art collecting, exhibition, or production. For this installment, we look about an hour west of Chicago to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, known as Fermilab: one of the most advanced particle accelerators in the world. There, government scientists research the frontiers of particle physics, from quarks to dark matter. Wilson Hall, the lab’s central building, is named for founder Robert Rathbun Wilson, a Manhattan Project physicist and the artist of several massive public sculptures that pepper the campus. It also houses the Fermilab Art Gallery, which Wilson established to explore his dual interests in science and aesthetics. Search “art at Fermilab” online today and, in addition to the gallery and artist-in-residence program, you might learn about “art,” the laboratory’s software workflow protocol. “art is an event-processing framework for particle physics experiments,” the website explains. Though the name is a coincidence, …

Lynne Warren on the Contemporary Art World, Chicago, and the MCA

Lynne Warren, Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), is a true pioneer in the field of contemporary art. Her innovative and thoughtful approach to her work is demonstrated in the major shows she’s spearheaded for the museum, such as Dan Peterman: Plastic Economies in 2004; Alexander Calder: Form, Balance, and Joy in 2010, and Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes in 2013, just to name a few, as well as the numerous essays and books she’s published. As Lynne transitions to adjunct status at the MCA, we caught up with her to delve deeper into her expansive achievements and unique path in the art world. Emily Breidenbach: Thank you so much for meeting with me. Let’s start out with a little bit about your background—where you grew up and things of that nature. Lynne Warren: Yes, my background, which is very much in the background at this point in my life, is a kind of interesting one. I was actually born on the East coast but my father moved the whole family, and I’m …

Without, Within the World: The Dojo

Call them DIY, alternative, radical, or safe, Chicago’s independent art spaces create a world without money and borders within a world defined by both. They function as community hubs and communal living spaces, providing free and affordable entertainment, hosting activism workshops and food drives, and building connections among young, emerging, and marginalized artists. “Without, Within the World” is a series of interviews that asks curators and administrators about building utopia while maintaining viable spaces.      The first to be profiled is the Dojo, an underground performance venue and gallery in Pilsen. Though the Dojo has its roots in the DIY music scene, their curation constantly skirts the boundaries between genres and communities. Established in 2015 by Alex Palma, Mykele Deville, and Daniel Kyri (DK), who all lived in Pilsen at the time, the Dojo is now run by Palma and Calie Ramone, who work with a variety of outside curators and “Dojo Homies,” who put together diverse music and art shows two or three times a week. When I meet Palma at his Pilsen apartment (he …

Sugary Deception: “The Politics of Desire” by Yvette Mayorga

Hot pinks and sugary detritus dominate the installations of Chicago-based artist Yvette Mayorga. In her most recent show, entitled The Politics of Desire and presented at the Chicago Artists Coalition, she uses a variety of mediums to comment on the inaccessibility of the American Dream for Mexican immigrants crossing borderlands. Her ongoing project, Borderland Series, communicates a narrative that encompasses the experiences of immigrant citizens from a variety of oppressed ethnicities. Through a wide array of media, ranging from acrylic painting to found objects, The Politics of Desire invites viewers to engage in a socio-political dialogue that would ordinarily be invisible in the white walls of a gallery space. Within the excessive layering of frosting and found objects, Mayorga presents a bold critique of American capitalism, state-sanctioned violence, and the uncertainty of Mexican citizenship. By using strategies that actively silence the white American male gaze, her work overwhelms the viewer with signifiers that represent immigrant rituals of celebration. Mayorga’s art practice originally began as an artistic venture to re-contextualize the board game Candy Land as …

Institutional Garbage: Archiving the Emotions of Art Institutions

Scrolling, swiping, and clicking are the only tactile skills required to engage with Institutional Garbage, a web-based exhibition produced by Sector 2337 and the Hyde Park Art Center. These actions, performed by a mouse, keyboard, or the tap of a finger, make a ritual out of interacting with exhibitions presented in the digital sphere. Co-curated by Caroline Picard and Lara Schoorl, Institutional Garbage conceptually tears down the institutional walls of the art world, from elite academic spaces to donor-run museums, to showcase “the administrative residue of imaginary public institutions.” [1] As the title insinuates, the show makes a point to draw attention to the seemingly imperfect “trash” of 41 artists, writers, and curators. Lara Schoorl, a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and current publicity manager at Sector 2337, states that the exhibition aims to “elevate the connotation of trash,” attempting to understand it as a crucial component of the creative journey through the art world. Schoorl described in detail how this innovative rendition of a virtual exhibition initially “started …

Race Abstracted: Thelma Golden and New Global Black Aesthetics

On a warm Thursday evening, Thelma Golden sauntered across the carpeted stage of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Rubloff Auditorium with an elegant stride. Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem, moderated the panel “New Paradigms 2016: An Evening of Art and Conversation.” It showcased seminal artists of color in today’s art world from diverse parts of the globe. Glenn Ligon, Lynette Yiadom Boakye, and Cauleen Smith collaboratively examined how their work reveals the intricacies of the individual and collective histories of the global Black diaspora. Golden asked concise and complex questions that lead the artists to unpack the phenomena of a global Black presence in art making, moving beyond colonial labels such as “African American.” Despite their different aesthetic approaches, all three artists shared the similarity of vouching for the silenced voices in the canon of art history. Their cultural perspectives in art making seamlessly united as they talked about navigating the identity politics of the modern world through their artistic process. This mutual goal shared between the artists revealed …

Arts Advocacy At Its Best & On the Wall: An Interview with Monique Meloche

Situated between Chicago’s Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village communities is Monique Meloche. The gallery’s on the wall program has become not only one of the freshest art windows in the area, but a conversation piece with which Meloche seeks to engage passersby. Here’s what Meloche had to say about the origins and future of this two-year old program, which seeks to not only encourage interest in the inner happenings of the gallery, but to also go beyond the walls and engage her community. Rehema Barber: Monique, so tell me about the on the wall program and how you came up with the idea. Monique Meloche: It just seems like so many times gallery’s push that front window up to the front of the window and just put the gallery’s name on that front wall and I felt like it was a missed opportunity, so I worked with the architect [of the space] and we figured out that if we pulled that wall back about three feet, there would be enough space for somebody to work …

Sixty on Sixty: An Interview with Danielle Jackson

Since she started with Sixty, Danielle Jackson has shown undeniable dedication to the art and artists that she chooses to write about.  In her short time with us she has brought a refreshing and often playful edge to the archive through her conversations with artists like David Leggett, Michael Rea, Willy Chyr, Claire Ashley, Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger and Adelheid Mers. In the final days leading up to her departure to San Francisco to begin graduate school at California College of the Arts, Danielle and I sat down for brunch and revisited some of the most memorable moments of her interviews, the themes that will anchor her curatorial practice and her imagined future as the potential James Bond of the art world. TH: When did you realize that art was something you wanted to do as a career? DJ: I think I always knew it. But I originally started off in architecture. I got really frustrated with that, I felt really restricted because you’re designing for someone else. You’re not really doing what you …

EXPO CHICAGO // An Interview with Tony Karman

This week, the art world’s glitterati will descend upon Chicago for a new contemporary art fair: Expo Chicago, The International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art & Design. Occupying Navy Pier’s colossal Festival Hall, the fair showcases a selection of top tier galleries—capped at 100—from around the globe. Also included are EXPOSURE, a section comprising younger galleries; IN/SITU, a presentation of large-scale installations and site-specific and performative works; the conclusion of /Dialogues, a series of panel discussions and conversations; and a VIP Program. Designed by the architecture studio of luminary Jeanne Gang, the fair’s floor plan mimics Chicago’s grid system, boasting gallery-lined streets that allow visitors to view everything in sequence without losing their way, as well as a diagonal avenue on which visitors can view select exhibits and installations. Hanging from the hall’s high ceilings are mammoth mirrored cones. While many may be curious as to whether Chicago can live up to the challenge of hosting such an event, some involved in the lively local art scene have a separate concern: Can the fair get out-of-town …

And Then She’s Like/And He Goes—And I Asked: An Interview with Chris Campe

And The She’s Like/And He Goes, an exhibition at A+D Gallery,that juxtaposes text-based and sound-based art to expose the rich layers of the media and content. Chris Campe, artist and curator of the exhibition, recently returned to Germany after completing her Master of Art in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In this interview Campe sheds light on curating from abroad, the unique combination of artworks, German compound nouns, and the relationship of letterforms, text and sound in art. Kate Korroch: First and foremost congratulations on the exhibition! Can you tell me a bit about your process in selecting the artists and their specific works? Chris Campe: Thanks! I am very excited about the show – all the more because I moved back to Hamburg before it opened and I haven’t actually seen it yet! The initial selection of the visual artists came about quite naturally – they are all my friends. I love their work and because we all use hand-rendered text in our images I felt …

Sixty on Sixty: An Interview with Andrea Sparr-Jaswa

In the wake of her 30th birthday, I joined Andrea Sparr-Jaswa in her beautifully decorated Logan Square apartment. Andrea is a long time resident of the neighborhood and a contributing writer to the Chicago Arts Archive.   Amidst bites of fudge cake, we chatted about Andrea’s academic background, and her opinions on art, Chicago, and orbital sanders. Sixty on Sixty is a new series in which SIFCers interview one another, allowing readers to get to know the fine folks who bring you the latest from Chicago’s art scene. Tell me a bit about your educational background.  How did you get involved with art history and writing for the arts? I went to college for a while, changing my majors and trying to figure out what I wanted to do.  Art history was always the class that I wouldn’t miss, even if it was at 8 AM.  I always liked writing the papers, and I always enjoyed doing the work.  It always seemed so fascinating to me. For a while I pushed against it, because I …

100 Canvases, 1 Curator | A Few Words With Stuart Hall

Due to their love for The Silver Room’s Sound System Block Party and as a gesture of gratitude for the blood, sweat and tears that go into it, one hundred artists from across the city and the nation each donated a 12in. x 12in. original piece for the fundraising event. I took a trip to The Silver Room and witnessed the moments of planning and brainstorming for the 100 Canvases For A Better World Exhibition just before the show started to go up. Much like a composer who has the challenge of bringing different instruments together in a way that makes sense, Stuart Hall, the exhibition’s curator, had to take one hundred canvases by one hundred vastly different artists and bring them together in a way that spoke to the space, the theme of ‘A Better World’ and a potential buyer of the work. I bet you didn’t know that another term for curator is problem-solver.  During the installation process, I got the chance to ask Stuart several questions about his involvement in the events …

The Silver Room That’s Gold: An Interview with Eric Williams, Pt. 2

This is the second part of an interview with The Silver Room owner Eric Williams, just in time for the 9th Annual Sound System Block Party. Did you catch part one? If not, check out ‘The Silver Room That’s Gold: An Interview with Eric Williams, Pt. 1’. Tempestt Hazel: What I think is so great about The Silver Room is that it allows for such diverse programming to happen in it. Having readings, exhibitions, music, clothing, etc. around those themes seems natural. Eric Williams: It is. And it’s not all me. A lot of times it comes from other people who understand that the space is available for a different kind of voice to be spoken. If they get what the space is they approach me [with an idea] and I say, “Yea, let’s do it.” That way, I’m not always depending on myself to come up with what’s next. TH: Roughly how many shows have you had here? EW: Maybe 20? Hebru Brantley, Krista Franklin and Tyrue ‘Slang’ Jones [have each] had a show …

File Types: An Interview with Chaz Evans and Lorelei Stewart

File Type is a show currently on view at Gallery 400, which attempts to move beyond the general realm of “digital art” into a more nuanced exploration of the many iterations of commonly used files types such as .jpg, .pdf and .tiff. I had a chance to meet up with the curators of the show, Chaz Evans and Lorelei Stewart, at Gallery 400. We discussed the relevance of approaching new media with more specificity and I was able to uncover some of the ideas the artists were working with and the not-so-visible expressions of file type within their work. Jennifer Nalbantyan: First, can you both tell me a little bit of your background with Gallery 400 and how long you’ve been curating? Chaz Evans: This will be the first show that I’ve been able to participate in in a curatorial capacity at Gallery 400. I got my MA in Art History and I’m currently in the MFA program [at UIC] for New Media Art –I have one year left. I also work for Gallery 400. …