All posts filed under: Regional

Installation view of Men of Change. The installation made of metal poles is in the middle of the room. Light boxes of various sizes featuring photos and text are hung on the metal poles. A large display box in front of the installation features a poster that reads STORYTELLERS. Along the walls of the room are paintings and other artworks, most of which are obscured by the metal pole installation in the middle of the room. A woman stands in front of the light box installation, looking at the installation. Photo by Phil Armstrong. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Have you seen them? “Men of Change” at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

“Have you seen them? You see them. Bold. Powerful.         Tragic. Beautiful.                 And true. They are icons with warrior roots. They are trees of knowledge. Legends of the past, inspiration for the future, the fierce energy of now.” The introductory text to “Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.” paints a picture of what you can expect within the two rooms containing the ambitious exhibition. “Men of Change” highlights the accomplishments and legacies of black American men through text, photography, and artwork from twenty-five American artists. The changemakers — some long gone, many still alive — were paired with artists who made artwork related to, about, or honoring them.     The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES), and will travel to ten locations over the next three years. It debuted at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is on view until December 1, after which it will head to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, Washington. WeShouldDoItAll (WSDIA), a Brooklyn-based design studio responsible for the “Making A …

Image: Damian Duffy sits at a table in a brewery and works at a laptop computer. In front of his computer are paperback copies of Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Talents”, an advanced reader copy of his graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s “Parable of the Sower”, and an open notebook with sketches. An empty beer glass is set to the side. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Writing Comics We Want to Read: An Interview with Damian Duffy

If you’ve been paying any attention to pop culture lately, you’ve noticed that we’ve become enamored of comics and graphic novels. Like most media, the authors and subjects have been predominantly white, and it’s hard to remember that there are other stories being told. As comics become more mainstream, there’s an opportunity to expand the genre to feature different voices through authorship, artistry, and subjecthood. The inherent collaborative nature of comics—artist working with author, most simply—makes it ripe for bringing like-minded individuals together to manifest a story not yet pictured. This summer, I had a beer with comics author and artist Damian Duffy. Duffy is an Eisner-award winner (that’s the prestigious award handed out by Comic Con International in San Diego), and a New York Times bestselling author. With artist John Jennings, Duffy is the co-author of “Black Comix” and “Black Comix Returns” and the adapter and author of “Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation,” the first visualization of celebrated author Octavia Butler’s work. He’s also the adapter and author of the forthcoming graphic novel adaptations …

You Are Here: Mark Joshua Epstein

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. by Mark Joshua Epstein I usually live on …

You Are Here: Nick Wylie / Elmer Ellsworth

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. Summer Love in Springfield by Nick Wylie / …

You Are Here: Stephanie Graham

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. by Stephanie Graham Hello. My name is Stephanie …

You Are Here: Cass Davis

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. An Argument for Excavation by Cass Davis In …

Creative Processing: Taking a Break at Moonlight Retreat

I’m going to argue that artists are the most hardworking people I know. Maybe it’s because I’m an artist and also a Capricorn, or perhaps it’s because I just started a new job last month as an educator and have been working non-stop since, with barely any moment to stop and just breathe or take a break. Often, I find myself juggling numerous projects, exhibition deadlines, freelance work, or commission pieces all at once while holding down a full-time…all just to pay the bills. And I can say with confidence, that I am certainly not alone in this balancing act that many artists navigate to survive. We work hard because we need to eat. We need to live. But in order to live, we need to create.  One thing I never take for granted is the incredible community of artists that surround me in Milwaukee. Almost everyone is willing to support one another through attending events, promoting projects, or just meeting up for coffee to exchange notes. The communities we build and actively take part …

You Are Here: Lyndon Barrois Jr.

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. In Accord by Lyndon Barrois Jr. For me, …

Captioned: An Interview with Liza Sylvestre

“The space of this film is expanding.” It is indeed. Liza Sylvestre, a recent graduate of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), captions 2001: A Space Odyssey on a perpendicular wall from Space is the Place, also captioned. These films roll with Sylvestre’s comments and captions coming with them for an interpretation of the two films. How do these two films operate in our culture? Who gets to access them?  This show at the new space, New Genres Art Space, in Rockford, Illinois, is developing programming around digital art, and its ability to be educational, therapeutic, and community-driven. The small gallery space has been used to the max with this exhibition, as these monumental films stretch floor to ceiling. There are captions that don’t match the films. Instead, they describe a separate narrative of the artist’s thoughts and experience watching the movies. I think these captions make the film more approachable highlighting the accessibility of the films.  This interview has been edited for clarity. Anthony Hamilton: Could you introduce us to your work and the Captioned …

Image: Installation view of Dustsceawung, 2016, curated by Adam Farcus. Artwork by Harold Mendez, Stephen Hendee, and Erin Washington. Photograph by Brytton Bjorngaard.

You Are Here: Adam Farcus

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. Auxetic Art Communityby Adam Farcus A cat’s skin, …

Image: Astrid Kaemmerling shown walking Enos Park being led by participant of the Enos Park Walking Laboratory (2017), Location: 5th Street and Union Street, Enos Park, IL. Photo by Danielle Wyckoff.

You Are Here: Astrid Kaemmerling

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson work collaboratively as artist-curators and organizers in Springfield, Illinois. For over seven years, they have developed contemporary arts programming at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery, DEMO Project, and the Terrain Biennial at Enos Park. Lacher and Robinson reached out to seven creative and cultural purveyors whom they have worked with over their tenure in the capital city to reflect on their experience there — that is to say, “here.” The resulting texts together form “You are Here,” a new venture from the collaborative duo in partnership with Sixty Regional and made possible with support from Illinois Humanities. As is typical of their curatorial approach, Lacher and Robinson have extended freedom and latitude to each contributor, resulting in texts that take a variety of forms and offer wide-ranging glimpses into what it is like to work here in the flyover region of the United States, in the perceived rural Midwest, in Central Illinois, and, at the heart, here in Springfield. Walking Enos Park: Community and Urban (Re)development through …

Image: Kahlil Robert Irving, MOBILE STRUCTURE; RELIEF & Memorial: (Monument Prototype for a Mass); 2019. Sculptural Installation. Photo by Shabez Jamal.

From Punk Clubs to Panaderías: Counterpublic, An Embedded Triennial

In an era hypersaturated with recurring exhibitions – from Shanghai to Sharjah, Havana to Venice – a new St. Louis triennial urges artgoers to forgo the touristic water taxis for their own two feet. Organized by The Luminary, a St. Louis-based nonprofit platform for art and activism, Counterpublic reinvigorates global precedents with a model that approaches the city on the scale of a neighborhood. Its inaugural iteration takes place in the 12-block radius of Cherokee Street, a neighborhood of family-operated businesses and art spaces that serves as the Latinx center of St. Louis. Any of the 30+ site-responsive installations and performances greet equal parts neighbors carrying grocery bags and cognoscenti clutching the newspapers that serve as maps to make the pilgrimage. Artworks are ingrained in punk clubs and panaderías, indicated subtly by small yellow signs. The exhibition evolves at various levels of sunlight and sobriety – it features a John Riepenhoff-created beer at Earthworks brewery –as Counterpublic’s hours are set by the shops themselves. On the street, none of the artwork is particularly protected; this …

Image: Elliot stands under scaffolding along a brick building, with the street to the right. One hand holds onto a post on the scaffolding, and he's leaning out to the left towards the frame. Photo is in black and white. Photo by Ryan Edmund.

The Art of Adaptation: An Exit Interview with Elliot J. Reichert

In 2013, just days into his position as the Assistant Curator of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Elliot J. Reichert was doing what curators often do. After being thrown into the installation process of a new exhibition, he was flexing his ability to fuel wildfires while demonstrating his resourcefulness in locating unusual materials at the very last minute in service of an artist’s vision. In this case, the artist was the late musician and sculptor Terry Adkins and the wildfires were the brand new works that had been sitting on the back shelf of Adkins’ mind for years that he now had the opportunity to bring to life. When Elliot took this role, the museum was preparing to mount Recital, a substantial solo exhibition of Adkins’ work which had traveled from the Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York to Chicago. When Recital was being mounted, there was no way of knowing that this mid-career retrospective would, in fact, be a definitive moment in Adkins’ career and would also be marked …

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 …

Time, bodies, and objects: An Interview with Guen Montgomery

Champaign-Urbana is home to a multitude of artists and creative people. The visual arts community in C-U is one that can, broadly speaking, be divided into three groups: local artists with no institutional affiliation; faculty, staff, and students at Parkland College; and faculty, staff, and students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a whole, they generate a vibrant intellectual and creative energy not often found in other similarly sized cities. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s School of Art + Design has nationally and internationally recognized faculty working in all media, but there aren’t very many opportunities to spend time with faculty artwork here in C-U. As faculty at a research-focused institution, they regularly have successes at the national and international levels. The combination of only a handful of exhibition spaces in C-U, and the university’s encouragement for non-local exhibitions and lectures, makes it common to know someone fairly well but have a very hazy sense of their creative work and research. I first met multimedia artist and UIUC Teaching Assistant Professor Guen …

The Law of Attraction: Katie Bell at University Galleries

A nexus of energy has coalesced in the corner of Illinois State’s University Galleries, pulling objects and people alike to its epicenter. Brooklyn-based artist, Katie Bell’s site-specific installation is a symphony of found materials. Planks of wood and sheets of foam board are layered on the walls over large swaths of pastel paint. A pillar leans like a toppled monument. A strip of rubber baseboard stretches over the concrete floor, drapes across the wall, and curls back onto the floor. A wooden rod pierces a stack of pink paper. Cuts of curved faux-marble seem to melt as though lifted from a surrealist’s canvas—a Kay Sage painting breaking through the picture plane. In her animated yet understated play of line and geometric form, Bell also seems to borrow compositional cues from the suprematists. And if the energetic compositions and muted color palette of Standing Arrangement are the embodiment of what Malevich championed as a “pure artistic feeling,” then it is one of dreamlike ecstasy. Laced throughout the room are moments of suspension, the climax just after …

Abundant & Diverse: An Overview of Visual Arts at Riverwest FemFest

Since 2015, Milwaukee’s Riverwest FemFest has become a popular and important festival within the city’s creative community, one that supports artists and musicians across multiple venues through concerts, performances, exhibitions, and workshops. As a platform for femme, gender non-conforming, non-binary, trans, POC, and womyn creators, FemFest acts as a fundraiser for various non-profits and donates all proceeds from the week-long event to local organizations that support womyn, LGBTQIA+ individuals, families, and marginalized groups in the city. The festival ran from May 26 – June 2 and this year, all proceeds were donated to Milwaukee Women’s Center, an organization that provides services to people who have been affected by domestic violence, addiction, mental health issues, homelessness, and poverty, and Diverse & Resilient, a non-profit organization that supports LGBTQ+ individuals through programs that encourage sexual health, build leadership skills and confidence, and provide anti-violence initiatives and support for substance abuse. Since its inception, FemFest has grown in size, concept, and location and now extends into neighborhoods beyond just the Riverwest community in Milwaukee, where it first got its …

Composition and Improv: Interview with William Pearson

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s interview with sound artist William Pearson. Presented through Sixty Regional. In partnership with pt.fwd, a new series of contemporary music and sonic arts performances featuring new work by local and regional artists in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, Sight Specific will be publishing conversations between the featured artists and pt.fwd director Eddie Breitweiser. William Pearson (Champaign-Urbana, IL) will be performing on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 8pm at the McLean County Arts Center. All pt.fwd performances are free and open to the public. Follow pt.fwd on Facebook and Instagram for more information, including upcoming performance dates. Eddie: Part of the charge of pt.fwd is to find a diverse group of local and regional artists and musicians and to challenge them to bring something new to an open-minded audience. Would you mind speaking a bit about your background, your practice, and historically what we’re going to be hearing? What have you prepared for us and how does it both relate to your practice as a whole and indicate where you’re going next? Will:  Yeah. …

#abovetheclouds: Studio Visit with Molly Markow

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s studio visit with artist Molly Markow. Presented through Sixty Regional. In her recent works, Markow skillfully balances scenes of sublime natural (or “natural”) beauty within the constraints of manufacture. These scenes–a white-sand beach with yawning palms, a fluorescent sunset bleeding across the horizon, a deep-green bed strewn with pillows of searing calendulas–provoke deeply-rooted physiological responses of the human subject in nature. But feelings of serenity, of tropical escape, or of wholistic unity (dasein, or being-in-the-world) are subverted by the infinite trappings of contemporary life: in Paradise (2018) the beach, printed on a Walmart shower curtain layered with a soft pink latex paint, is seen vaguely as rectangles where paint has not been applied, like disjointed pieces of an exploded puzzle. In Sun-baked (2019) the sunset, painted onto the plaster cast of the inside of a baking pan, is miniaturized to the size of a laptop that’s been rotated into portrait mode (Given the vitriol of online comments when an uploaded video is shot vertically instead of horizontally, imagine the response …

Piece of Mind: The Growth of a Supportive and Nurturing Arts Community

When I first moved to the Midwest and began settling into my new home in Peoria, I was immediately captured by the growing art community. Being a part of academia for so long, I had not yet lived somewhere with an arts community that developed outside of a university or college. I attended my first First Friday in Peoria, a local event with gallery crawls, studio visits, and openings, meeting so many people pursuing their passion in this city. The variety of artists at various points in their career, doing so many different things, truly astounded me. There were local artisans creating wares and goods for the community, artists making a living off of their work by selling at fairs and local businesses, academics making their work and passing their knowledge on to their pupils, artists maintaining a studio practice and taking advantage of all of the space and resources in the community, and those who were new, attending their first events and figuring out their voice in the art-ecosystem. The variety of people working in such …

“Natural Wonder” at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria

This review is part of our Sixty Regional project which partners with artists, writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and Illinois. Written by Jessica Bingham, artist, curator, and co-founder of Project 1612, this review examines “Natural Wonder”, a two-person exhibition by Bethany Carlson Coffin and Stephanie Sailer at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, Illinois. Distance, whether out of necessity or inability to be close, is the common thread within the works in the exhibition Natural Wonder currently at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, IL. As the elevator doors opened to reveal the exhibition, I felt instantly calm, yet curious. Curious about the strange forms living on the pristine white pedestals and lost within the intricate paintings and drawings that graced the walls of the gallery. The pieces spark a sense of wonder and yearning for answers about experiences we cannot possibly understand or completely fathom; they compliment each other—they are quiet, contemplative, and coexisting. The exhibition pairs together the delicate drawings and monochromatic paintings of Bethany Carlson Coffin and the supple mixed media sculptures of …

Risk/Play/Reap at Jan Brandt Gallery

This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s review of  “Risk Play Reap”,  a collaborative exhibition by Allison Carr, Danell Dvorak, Monica Estabrook, and Amy Wolfe, which was installed at Jan Brandt Gallery in Bloomington, IL. Presented through Sixty Regional. Art making is usually thought of as a solitary activity, but what happens when that usually solitaire activity is opened up to the direct input of others? This show, consisting of the collaborations of four artists offers some experiential insight into that question. A statement accompanying the show in part explains the collaboration process: “Each artist began a piece, then passed it to another for further development. Additions, alterations, and reconfigurations continued, until the group agreed a piece was completed, whether through lengthy, multiple cycles, or two to three passes.” First of all, I noticed that when viewing the entirety of the show, the exchange of approaches within each piece had resulted in a variety of finished works that, at the same time, had a consistency of formal solutions. Layering, transparency, textural surfaces, juxtaposing of imagery, and often a sculptural …

MA Exhibition: The Midway Point

This review is part of our Sixty Regional project which partners with artists,  writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and Illinois. Written by Jessica Bingham, artist and co-founder of Project 1612, this review looks into the recent MA Exhibition at Heuser Art Center at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Large windows scale the exterior walls of Bradley University’s Heuser Art Center, giving you a glimpse of the artworks that lie within. There is absolutely no way to drive past the building without taking a peek into the gallery. The artwork seems to glow from within, especially in the winter, and the MA Exhibition was no exception. Large-scale paintings by Jack Crouch fill the walls, the rich historical narratives from which they are derived interrupted with playful teddy bears and children’s toys, a window into the life of the painter. Natalie Zelman’s organic ceramic objects cover pedestals that sit lower to the floor, creating reflective landscapes. The back walls of the gallery are plastered with a large floor to ceiling installation of painted cardboard, …

Fever Dream: Allison Lacher at Monaco

I’m wearing my winter coat the day I visit Allison Lacher’s exhibition Full Sun (the sun being nowhere in sight), but just a week ago, the high reached 90 degrees in St. Louis. Without the undeterred peddling of all things pumpkin by every coffee shop in town, one could be forgiven for forgetting that it is, in fact, October. The brick facade of the gallery has been painted a dark gray, giving nothing away except that this corner of the city has been carved out for The Contemporary. But from within the neutral frame of Monaco, a warm glow is emanating. From the street, the interior space is inviting, with a peachy orange coat of paint and floors speckled with iridescent floral cutouts (over the course of a month, Lacher’s work has indeed served as an escape from both the cold and the heat). However, once inside, the comfort of room temperature begins to give way to a sense of hollow domesticity. Hung throughout the space are window panes, stretched over with bars of ribbon, …

Color it Clean: An Interview with Jeffrey Michael Austin

I first met Jeffrey Michael Austin through an exhibition we were a part of at the Chicago Artist Coalition in 2015, during which he was a resident in their HATCH program.  He then had successive projects in the St. Louis vicinity where I was living, and I maintained an ongoing admiration for the cleverness, humor, and versatility of his practice (he is also an accomplished musician, one-third of the trio Growing Concerns).  He is an artist that is responsive to his environment, locating the wonders of natural elements, as well as wonder-ing about the state of human nature. His re-staging of common objects and occurrences straddle the playful and the political. As the latter becomes more and more urgent, he engages in critique that arises out of a call for empathy.  Over a very long email correspondence, we reflected on some recent bodies of work, as he prepared to open his solo exhibition ‘Outstanding Balance’ at Heaven Gallery.     Lyndon Barrois Jr: It is notable that there are a lot of stars in the recent …

Begin, Been, + From Within: A look inside Claire Ashley’s Sculptures

This article is part of the Sixty Regional project which partners with artists,  writers, and artist-run spaces to highlight art happening throughout the Midwest and Illinois. Written by Allison Walsh, an artist from Peoria, IL and in affiliation with Project 1612, this article is a first-hand account of what it is like to be in one of Claire Ashley’s inflatable performances. Sitting on the floor, cross-legged with a battery pack strapped across my chest, I looked up at the painted canvas floating around me. My mysterious surroundings brought me strange feelings—the safety of being inside of a womb, the playfulness of hide and seek, and the potential that I was discovering a new planet. I sat and waited inside the sculpture, seeing nothing of the outside world, but the occasional nebulous figure across the inflatable form. I slowly heard more and more people gather in the space. I could sense them look at me, but they couldn’t see past the opaque skin of the inflatable organism. None of the spectators knew I was sitting there, cross-legged in silence. …

A Sense of Place: Photographs by Ted Diamond at Ramp Arts

UNIFORM In his native environment, Homo economicus quietly assimilates with his surroundings. Luggage in tow, he haunts airports, office complexes, hotels, and other vestiges of global urbanity, donning the white-collar camouflage of ubiquity, anonymity, and one-dimensional conformity. In A Sense of Place, Ted Diamond conjures a caricature of Homo economicus and photographs him in scenes depicting travel and its human affects. Marking his personal transition into an artist with a teaching career, these photographs depict scenes from his ambivalent adoption of the capitalist in-group’s signs. In Diamond’s words, “These images have become a document of my life in that rolling laptop bag business culture and how it infused into my life no matter where I was.” But these images are no mere representations of jet-setting businessmen doing business; rather, Diamond extracts Homo economicus out of his natural environment and releases him into the real, human world. He scrambles the codes of global capitalism – rolling laptop bags, frumpy suits, exhausted gazes, and collective alienation – and deposits them into the irrational space that Homo economicus …

Dwell in Other Futures

I had a basic sense of the urban history of St. Louis: deindustrialization, redlining, and white flight, all reflected in a downward sloping population chart and an interactive online map whose shaded regions shuffle along radial axes further and further apart over time. Nonetheless, I was surprised as I walked downtown. Tallish, newish buildings lined a wide boulevard dotted by tap rooms and cafes dealing overpriced salads to the only other pedestrians out and about: a small cluster of people in color-coordinated tee shirts (a school group, perhaps) and an occasional professional-looking person in a suit. I had arrived that afternoon via the Amtrak Lincoln Service Train No. 301 from Chicago, sleepy and hungry, and after taking care of both concerns with overpriced salad and bottomless coffee, and while waiting for a friend to come pick me up after work, I sought the one place in the area recommended to me by people in Chicago, the City Museum. Sensory overload was sudden and overwhelming. I now understood the meaning of the tip to “bring knee …

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 …

Inside Gertrude Abercrombie’s Mind – and Work

The dark gray-blue walls of the new exhibition at the Illinois State Museum of Chicago artist Gertrude Abercrombie’s work beckon the viewer to enter into the surreal rooms of her mind. With several standalone installations with painted furniture and a single pedestal with a column, doily, and cup Abercrombie actually used to paint the still life behind it, we are led even further into the depths of her mind. This exhibition not only gives us a look at work by Abercrombie in a variety of media from a variety of decades, but it also gives us a look at the woman behind the work. With pictures of her with friends like Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie, pictures of her in her own home with her cat and surrounded by her work. Gertrude Abercrombie liked to think of herself as the “Queen of Chicago”, and among her circle, she surely was; hosting weekend jam sessions, evenings of revelry, and all night parties as well as being a creative spirit making work that won awards at the …