All posts filed under: Archive Digs

We’re Here: The hub of drag and queer culture in Central Illinois

When one thinks of epicenters of drag culture, places like San Francisco, New York, L.A., and other large diverse areas are what comes to mind. When thinking of Illinois, the mind automatically goes to Chicago and the thriving drag community there. You just have to look at pride events in these areas and the vast amount and variety of entertainers, queens, performers, and queer culture, to see why. No one thinks of looking a little south of the windy city at Peoria, Bloomington, Springfield, Decatur, and Champaign, for example. For anyone who comes from a small town, myself being from small town West Virginia, it often seems like these large cultural hubs are the only place where drag performances and pride events are possible. This, however, could not be further from the truth. There is a rich culture of drag spread about and hidden amongst the cornfields; a beautiful and diverse group of entertainers and artists maintaining a thriving culture of drag outside of the metropolitan areas. I have been performing in drag for about two …

Image: Video still from Hương Ngô's, In the Shadow of the Future, 2014-19. Still shows someone dressed up in a cosmonaut outfit standing in the foreground next to a large white geometric structure. In the background is a building with plants dangling out the windows, with architecture in a similar triangular style as the white structure as well as Hương's central installation. It is a sunny day out in the photo. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the Shadow of the Future: Interview with Hương Ngô

The colorful folded paper triangle takeaways prepared by Hương Ngô’s for her current exhibition “In the Shadow of the Future” open up to describe a narrative about Vietnamese fighter pilot Phạm Tuân heading to space under a Soviet program in 1979, the same year that thousands of people fled persecution in Vietnam to resettle in a suburb of Paris. Hương brings these two migration stories together under the same roof, connecting their journeys after 40 years of separation. In the center of the room at 4th Ward Project Space, is a bright architectural installation made of collided triangular forms. Some have windows, and others are closed off in their own corners and have gardens of greenery. Two video screens protrude from the top of the piece, tilted up to the sky, and another is ingrained into the building itself, posited inches from the ground. On the wall of the gallery is a newspaper article cast in concrete from the New York Times regarding Phạm’s mission with the text slightly deteriorated. The environment construed by Hương …

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: The Newberry Library’s Chicago Protest Collection

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. For this installment, we sat down with Catherine Grandgeorge, the archivist from the Newberry Library’s Chicago Protest Collection. The Chicago Protest Collection builds …

Hidden Gems in the Paul V. Galvin Library of the Illinois Institute of Technology

Last summer on a research visit with a colleague, I entered the Special Collections Archive of the Paul V. Galvin Library at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In this space, I was looking through visual materials produced by students in the Design School made from the 1960s to the 1980s. This gallery holds works by many artists who are not seen in the public sphere today. This essay aims to provide crucial biographical information on several of artists and the contexts from which they produce their work. I begin by exploring the works made by Jose Williams who is responding to his experiences as a Black man in Chicago’s Bronzeville context. I then turn to the work of an undernoted woman represented the archive named Valeerat Burapavong. I hope to provide contextual insights and visual analysis on the works produced by these artists. I argue that the works produced in this period (1960s-1980s) challenge notions of race, ethnicity, and gender. Jose Williams: Constructing a Black Chicago in Serigraphy Featured in this archive are works …

Evanston’s Howard Street Gallery

Sixty Inches From Center’s Exchange Partnerships are our chance to spread the word about others who are writing about and documenting art and artists in Chicago, and doing it so beautifully. We have been longtime fans of our friends at Gozamos.com and their coverage of Latino art and culture from here to Milwaukee. This week we bring you a look into a brand new space in Evanston, Howard Street Gallery, through an article by Gozamos writer Andres Villela. Howard Street Gallery, located at 747 N. Howard St. in Evanston, brings to you street art in a refined form. It is a gallery and paint shop attempting to bring a positive message to the community. Howard Street Gallery is the combined effort of owners Tony P. and Yusuf. It was a business partnership that came from a like-minded vision to bring street art into the Chicago area art scene. Tony, a north side resident who has established creative ways to pursue his own artistic endeavors, had entertained the idea of opening such a gallery over a …

Hyde Park Op Shop 3: Where PBR meets S.Pellegrino…

If you know EJ Hill then you’ve probably gotten food for your mind, body and intellectual soul from him.  You’ve probably entered a very inviting environment.  You are probably an amateur artist without even knowing it–just by being who you are and doing what you do, and participating when invited. For “Us”, the closing event for Op Shop, EJ invited the public to participate in a potluck in Hyde Park.  While I’ve been to the Op Shop on the corner of Lake Park and 53rd at an abandoned, former Hollywood Video, this particular Op Shop brought up old memories of good music and my days as a High Fidelity-esque record store snob.  See, this particular location was once Dr. Wax–the place that people in-the-know went to purchase tickets to the best shows and get the scoop on new music from the guru of all that’s good, Duane Powell.  It was Dr. Wax that introduced me to Jaspects, Bilal Salaam and 4Hero.  It was where I bought my Foreign Exchange tickets.  (Insert Deep Sigh Here). I …