All posts filed under: Studios

The Vessels that Marva Made: An Interview with Members of Sapphire & Crystals

“I am a strong woman; my strength as a Black woman pays homage to what I call the Sapphire Spirit. A woman who is sassy, jazzy, spiritual, brainy, the healer–she is Mother Earth in its grand splendor. I salute this spirit in all Black women everywhere. The recognition of my own Sapphire Spirit provided me with the knowledge I needed to speak. My name is Marva and I speak through my art, my voice extends all the way back to the first known human being who was a Black woman. Going forth, through my ancestors, I am creating new symbols and new directions, moving from my own individual voice to that of the collective voice. I now join with sixteen other African American Women Artists and form the Sapphire & Crystals group. As a collective we step forward to the world.” –Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly In 1986 artists Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly and Felicia Grant Preston started meeting in Pitchford-Jolly’s home to discuss how to continue supporting women artists after the group Mud Peoples Black Women’s Resource …

Intimate Justice: Anna Showers-Cruser

“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 Anna Showers-Cruser in her McKinley park studio about queer identity, relationships to experimentation, and Southern hospitality.  S. Nicole Lane: I’m really excited to interview you because, obviously, I love your work. Where are you from? Anna Showers Cruser: I’m from Richmond, Virginia, and my family’s from southwest Virginia and we hail from Appalachia also. And I went to MICA for undergrad in Baltimore and lived there for a while. And then went back to Richmond, kind of was interested in that small-town or Southern city kind of art scene there, but I definitely kind of wanted to go to a bigger city for grad school. I went to UChicago and that was a cool program because it’s small and interdisciplinary but, as you know, part of a larger institution. So that allowed me to do a lot of play and exploring in my …

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. …

Heart & Bone Signs, Electro Pepper Gallery, and Labor-Based Artwork

Kelsey Dalton McClellan and Andrew James Welch McClellan have owned and operated Heart & Bone, Gold Gilded and Hand Painted Signs for the past six years, specializing in gold leaf and hand-painted signs throughout Chicago and nation-wide. The duo has now expanded their repertoire as they open their new gallery, Electro Pepper, in the Uptown neighborhood. Their aim is to use this endeavor as a flexible space to promote learned trades and labor-based artworks. Sixty Inches from Center sat down with Kelsey and Andrew to learn more about their path as sign painters, artists, and now, gallery owners. Emily Breidenbach: We’re sitting in your new gallery space, Electro Pepper. What can you tell me about it? Kelsey Dalton McClellan: The space we are in is multi-use. The front is a flexible gallery space and the back is our sign painting studio. Eventually, we’d like to have workshops and other events outside of art openings. At the moment, we’re kind of testing it out and receiving community response through monthly art openings. The majority of the time, we’re working in the back in our workspace, so …

In the Realm of Senses and the Pleasure of Eating with Music

Before Jeff Yang takes the stage, someone behind me says to a friend, “What you’re about to experience is like nothing else … it’s remarkable.” I don’t really know what I’m about to expect. I came to the event alone, my partner had to work, and I have an irrational fear of interactive events. I’m going into the night without many expectations. I received an email about a week or so in advance inviting me to In The Realm of Senses: Pictures at an Exhibition Fundraiser, and of course, I read the pamphlet — food, drinks, sense, scent, taste, music, sound — but I wasn’t sure how it would be exhibited, how the audience would be involved, and how I would react. All of the senses are familiar as simple words but existing together, and depending on one another, was something I had not experienced. I was nervous. Behind Yang hangs the work of Maja Bosen, an installation artist, whose pieces hang delicately from the ceiling on the back and left hand side of the stage. Yang …

Without, Within the World: Hume Chicago

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.      For this installment of “Without, Within the World,” we talked to executive director Fontaine Capel of Hume Chicago. Hume is a small gallery and artist studio space run out of a storefront in Humboldt Park. Through an open call process, Hume exhibits work by artists who are underrepresented on the gallery circuit, particularly women, queer, and immigrant artists. In addition to its gallery shows, Hume provides affordable studio spaces for artists and hosts regular events that contribute to its relaxed and friendly environment, such as movie nights and karaoke parties. Hume was established by Capel, Olive Panter, and Gita Jackson, who have …

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

This interview took place as part of an initiative of the Chicago Archives + Artists Project. CA+AP serves as a laboratory and pipeline for the community preservation of artist’s archives. We want to find creative ways to care for an ever more accessible, playful, and diverse compendium of artists voices, process and ephemera. We believe in the power of stories in many voices, on many platforms, past, present and future. This interview, conducted by Sabrina Greig, will be contributed to D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem’s file at the Chicago Artist Files at Harold Washington Library. Sabrina Greig: I’m here with Denenge in her home studio in Chicago. It’s summertime and a beautiful warm day overlooking the city and Lake Michigan. So, Denenge, tell us about your work and your space here. D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem: Thank you for being here and welcome to my space! So, to give some background for the work, I was born and raised in rural Nigeria in a small town called Mkar, Benue State, Nigeria, and it was very spare but rich cultural upbringing. …

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 …

Dancing in Public: Chicago Park District’s Resident Companies

Urbs in Horto: the official motto of the city of Chicago. This translates from Latin to “City in a Garden,” yet the construction of public green spaces around Chicago has a fraught, often troubled history. From its origins in the late nineteenth century, exhuming as corpses from plots on the North Side, the Chicago Park District emerged as a consolidated entity in 1934 and today proudly announces its status as “the largest municipal park manager in the nation.” As the Chicago Park District expanded, so did the city’s need for comprehensive, accessible arts programming. Though these needs existed prior to such expansion, the process of opening new public spaces threw them into a sharper relief. Landscape architects, like the Olmsted brothers who were commissioned to provide some recreational relief for the city’s overcrowded conditions, envisioned a new set of parks providing social and cultural services in addition to open green space. Parks might not merely be designated areas for fitness and recreation, they could also become an important facet of the Chicago’s cultural landscape. As it …

Water Street Studios Anniversary Show

Water Street Studios is an art center in Batavia, IL that hosts 26 artist studios, community art classes, workshops, large and small scale are exhibits, and various other programs and events offered to the community. On September 17th, I attended their first anniversary show and followed up with an interview with their director of education, Kari Kraus. 1. How did you first become involved with Water Street Studios? I was at Art In Your Eye [Batavia’s annual art fair] in Aug 2008.  I actually was leaving the fair and heading to the pedestrian bridge and passed by a tent with a hand-made “Batavia Art Center” sign.  I walked past and once I was halfway on the bridge I decided to go back and inquire.  I was interested in studio space at the time as I was just moving back home to Batavia and looking for a place to create in.  I walked up with my dog (Alberto) and inquired… At this time I was the assistant director of a not for profit art school and …

Hair Politics: A Studio Visit with Rhonda Gray

Hair and all that it signifies has appeared in the work of artists in many different ways. One of my favorite cases involves David Hammons who for pieces such as Esquire (Or John Henry) (1990) went to New York barber shops to collect the cut hair he would later use in his sculptures and other installations. For women, hair has always been a tricky subject. As I sat down with artist Rhonda Gray in her studio this summer, she explained just how this topic has informed her latest body of work. In the studio with Rhonda Gray from Tempestt Hazel on Vimeo.

Challenging the Icon: Riley Henderson

When I first encountered the work of Riley Henderson he had one foot out the door of the BFA Photography program at Columbia College Chicago.  After investigating the contents of his thesis portfolio I was immediately drawn to the scenes he created and the themes he explored through a playful, yet serious, lens.  His work asks the viewer to think about their own relationship to things found at the roots of American culture, but does so by first drawing them in with the use of familiar, seemingly satirical, cues.  To learn more about his background and his work, we asked him a few questions. Tempestt Hazel:  Tell us a little about your self and your artwork. Riley Henderson: Trained primarily in the photographic arts, I utilize many different mediums as a means to question issues of identity in an American context. TH: How does living/working or being from Chicago influence your creative practice? RH: Chicago’s such a diverse city, and yet it’s one of the most segregated cities in the country. This exposure and living …

Not your average art studio

I’ll Cut You – but not really though. This is the name of a hair salon I stumbled into while wandering around the Flat Iron studios. I was already overwhelmed with all the studios I visited from First Fridays and the Art on Track opening reception so trying to figure out what I wanted to mention in the SIFC blog didn’t come easy. Thankfully, this studio just kept on picking at my brain all week. Originally, I was just going to post a few photographs but I just could not resist. Yes, I know this is not your typical topic to highlight on an art blog but trust me this one is exceptional and October is over a month away. Everyone needs to know about I’ll Cut You because people need their hair cut and art needs to be sold. A little about Vladmir,  he is a hair stylist who has worked in the field for about twenty years and truly gives a mean cut. All hair products are made exclusively by Vladmir except for his …