All posts tagged: Art Chicago

In Our Bodies, Together: Disability Art Showcase and Maker-Space

Creative, connecting, and celebratory—these were the intentions laid out for people at the start of the Disability Art Showcase and Maker-Space on April 16th. The event organizer, Bri Beck, a disability artist/advocate and art therapy graduate student from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, hosted between sixty and seventy participants at Access Living, downtown Chicago’s main Center for Independent Living, for an evening of art-making and community-building.   Systemically divided groups of disabled people, veterans, scholars, art therapists, artists, activists, and more, were invited to utilize the arts “to share the varied story of disability and to bring together those that are disabled and those that work within this community to further grow and define a collective voice and community”—per Beck’s design. Image: Two people, one kneeling and one standing, work together on a colorful wall tapestry made of various fabric strips. Photo by Ryan Edmund. Guests contributed to a group tapestry, created disability pride buttons, wove fibers alongside someone new, participated in a #DisabledIAm photobooth, and engaged with artwork created by disabled artists …

If You Want to Watch, You Can Watch: A Conversation with Multimedia Artist Heather Raquel Phillips

In Heather Raquel Phillips’ videos we are so very close. But we rarely get the full picture. Instead, we sense our way. We feel what we are meant to know, despite, or because of, the ambiguity. It is familiar, yet private. We cannot, would not, transpose ourselves onto or into another’s moment. But we watch, transfixed, sometimes trapped up close, sometimes lingering, our desires holding us rapt. Eyes closed, a grimace, then a small smile, as someone takes an electric clipper to another’s head and shaves it clean. Eyes closed, relaxed, stroking hair to the lull of R&B. The gentle touch of a manicured hand against the neck, the other confidently guiding the razor along the scalp. They bend forward as the razor tickles the nape, moving with the grain of their body in response to another’s structured guidance. Tongues ecstatically licking lips, devouring in anticipatory delight. Bodies gleeful with expectation, awaiting their punishment. Phillips, a mixed race artist living and working in Philadelphia, explores the intersections of race, class, gender & sexuality through the …

‘The Artist as a Catalyst of Social Change?’ Part 3: Leah Gipson

As many contemporary artists, arts organizations, and other cultural laborers continue a decades-long trajectory of re-orienting their practices more deliberately towards and within the social world, forms and approaches have morphed through a collective re-imagining of the production, dissemination, and sociopolitical potential of art. These modes have sought to broaden access and participation in the arts, transform relationships between people, forge practices rooted just as much in ethics as in aesthetics, and other similar gestures toward aligning art with notions of social justice and reform. And yet amidst this grappling, a number of unresolved riddles remain regarding art’s place in daily life: What and who is art’s “community,” and what do we mean by “community”? What is art’s relationship to democracy? Can increased access to the arts also advance civic participation more broadly? What is the role of the artist in society? Can art and artists be catalysts for social change — and should they? Such issues and questions reverberate through the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum’s current exhibition Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change, which explores …

‘The Artist as a Catalyst of Social Change?’ Part 2: Regin Igloria and North Branch Projects

As many contemporary artists, arts organizations, and other cultural laborers continue a decades-long trajectory of reorienting their practices more deliberately towards and within the social world, forms and approaches have morphed through a collective re-imagining of the production, dissemination, and sociopolitical potential of art. These modes have sought to broaden access and participation in the arts, transform relationships between people, forge practices rooted in ethics as much as in aesthetics, and other similar gestures toward aligning art with notions of social justice and reform. Yet amidst this grappling, a number of unresolved riddles remain regarding art’s place in daily life: who is art’s “community,” and what exactly do we mean by “community”? What is art’s relationship to democracy? Can increased access to the arts also advance civic participation more broadly? What is the role of the artist in society? Can art and artists be catalysts for social change — and should they? Such issues and questions reverberate through the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum’s current exhibition Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change, which explores the influence that …

‘The Artist as a Catalyst of Social Change?’ Part 1: Nicole Marroquin

As many contemporary artists, arts organizations, and other cultural laborers continue a decades-long trajectory of reorienting their practices more deliberately towards and within the social world, forms and approaches have morphed through a collective re-imagining of the production, dissemination, and sociopolitical potential of art. These modes have sought to broaden access and participation in the arts, transform relationships between people, forge practices rooted in ethics as much as in aesthetics, and other similar gestures toward aligning art with notions of social justice and reform. Yet amidst this grappling, a number of unresolved riddles remain regarding art’s place in daily life: who is art’s “community,” and what exactly do we mean by “community”? What is art’s relationship to democracy? Can increased access to the arts also advance civic participation more broadly? What is the role of the artist in society? Can art and artists be catalysts for social change — and should they? Such issues and questions reverberate through the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum’s current exhibition Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change, which explores the influence that Addams …

Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis, The Way You Look (at me) Tonight. Photo: Robbie Sweeny.

“Radical Hospitality”:
Relaxed Performances on the MCA Stage

Chair or floor cushion? I decided to make myself comfortable in a chair on the corner of the stage—in the midst of the action, but removed enough to observe much of what was happening at the edges of the space. This performance of Claire Cunningham & Jess Curtis’ The Way You Look (at me) Tonight was certainly relaxed. Escorted to stage level, the audience was invited to sit directly on the stage in clusters of chairs and cushions, and prompted to make themselves at home, even remove their heavy winter boots if they were so inclined. After explaining what to expect, Cunningham and Curtis—acclaimed international theatre and dance artists—set into motion a “collage of dance, song, and text.” For roughly 100 minutes, the audience was treated to a show pendulating between humorous yet poignant moments and more classical performance segments of dance and song. (You can see a clip here). Though classical might be the wrong word, as Cunningham and Curtis’ work itself questions what we consider classic or traditional, playing with romantic ideals, gender …

Image Description: Image of a very dark room, three faint windows can be made out. White text on top of the image says "Black Out Dinners" with a small fork and knife graphic. Photo courtesy of 6018North.]

6018North’s Black Out Dinners with The Chicago Lighthouse

Black Out Dinners are not the dining-in-the-dark, date-night novelty you may have seen offered on Groupon. 6018North, an Edgewater nonprofit for experimental arts and culture, takes the experience far beyond a trendy meal. In partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse, Black Out Dinners are presented by fully or partially visually impaired servers who guide guests in the pitch-black setting. The first two courses of the delicious vegetarian meal (Giuseppe Catanzariti of Midnight Kitchen Projects was the chef, with Sonia Yoon, when I attended) are enjoyed at communal tables in the dark, with only minor bumps and air-grasps. Dessert is served back in the light, and includes a discussion with the servers and meeting your fellow table-mates.   As dinner guests, we were placing ourselves in the unknown, trusting someone for whom the dark is not unknown at all. This trust, the ability to lean on one another’s strengths, makes Black Out Dinners about far more than food. I had the chance to speak with Tricia Van Eck, Artistic Director at 6018North, as well as Elbert Ford, Job Placement Counselor …

Interpreting Faye Driscoll’s “Play”: The Art of Audio Description and ASL Interpretation

None of the typical rules of a play apply here. Then again, when you come to a performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, you aren’t really expecting typical, are you? Play is the second performance in a series called Thank You For Coming, created by Bessie Award–winning director and choreographer, Faye Driscoll. This performance “uses the ritual of storytelling to explore our reliance on stories to relate to one another and form identities as individuals and citizens.” What begins as a communal audience-participation on stage quickly delves into a parody of an absurd theater act. Employing multiple meanings of the term “play,” the cast performs a drama but an allowance for improvisation leaves room for the actors to engage in the more fanciful version of “play” as well. Play is also atypical in its breaking of the fourth wall. Not only does a sound engineer remain on stage, occasionally being called into the action, but Driscoll herself joins the cast. At times she is grabbing props or directing the actors, as if it were a rehearsal …

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 …

Expanding on Relationships with Everyday Items with David Brandon Geeting

  David Brandon Geeting is a Brooklyn-based photographer who has an interest in creating art from mundane, everyday objects.  Geeting moved from his home state of Pennsylvania to New York in order to pursue his BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, which he completed in 2011.  His photography made its first appearance in Chicago earlier this year while taking part in the group show, Temporal Figuration, at LVL3 Gallery.  Geeting’s work will return again to Chicago and be featured in  November 2 show, Everyday Always Trying, the first show by the new curatorial project, the Coat Check, at David Weinberg Photography in River North.  The show is curated by Matt Avignone and will feature David’s series, Leaky Faucet Metronome. Lydia Shepard (LS): How did you get started with Photography? David Geeting (DG): I grew up in the suburbs of Bethlehem, PA.  It’s one of those places where there isn’t much for teenagers to do.  I played in bands in basements and skateboarded; I was into that scene.  My friends were always taking …

Explorations of Identity, Surroundings, & the World with Hannah Dunsirn

Hannah Dunsirn is a photography student at Columbia College, RAW artist, portrait photographer extraordinaire, and an all-around lovely person.  Hailing from a small town in Northeast Wisconsin, Hannah came to Chicago in 2009 to pursue her love for photography.  Hannah was recently featured at the RAW: Natural Born Artists September showcase, “Ensemble,” where she showed a beautiful series of photographs taken while traveling in India this past summer.  Past projects of hers explore the idea of personal identity and the process of adapting and changing the surrounding environment to one’s own, such as a place of employment.  Hannah is also deeply inspired by travel, as many of her photos reflect the discovery of new places, people and culture.  She has also made a zine featuring her series from India, and plans to continue to make zines in the future.  I met with Hannah at Cafecito in the South Loop, where we both enjoyed a delicious sandwich and chatted.  We discussed how she got started, her inspirations, her time at Columbia, and her plans for the …

Apocalypse 2012/Genesis 2013 // Jackson Junge Gallery

You hear a lot about the end of the world nowadays.  It is everywhere: the end of the Mayan calendar, global warming, and foreign conflict.  The apocalypse is a concept that has fascinated humankind for ages, and continues to captivate the imagination of many. Jackon Junge Gallery, located on Milwaukee Avenue in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area has taken that very concept and turned it in to the premise of their current exhibition, “Apocalypse 2012/Genesis 2013”.  The gallery hosted the show’s opening event on September 14.  The show is co-curated by Chris Jackson, Laura Junge, and Anna Vlaminck, and reflects upon the Mayan calendar along with the Nostradamus prediction that the world will end in 2012.  “Often we try to do a couple of shows a year that tie in with current events,” Chris Jackson, co-owner of the gallery, said about the show.  “We thought it would be interesting to do a group show base on those predictions because they are getting a lot of attention.” The show represents over 30 artists, both from Chicago and …

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 …

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. …

Jettison Quarterly Revisions Art and Culture

Jettison Quarterly is an online publication that features art and culture in Chicago. Like Sixty, Jettison documents and features interesting stories that are not always covered by other more ‘mainstream’ publications. In addition to that, Jettison bring to the table full-length features—because it is okay to actually spend time reading about Chicago’s rich cultural scene and not just soaking up small tidbits. We’ve been following Jettison since its inception and finally had the opportunity to put them under their own disco ball; they always display one at most of their events. PR Assistant, Meredith Weber, and Co-Founder, Emanuel Aguilar, both took a moment to talk about the publication. Nicolette Caldwell: How long have you been a part of Jettison and what is your role? Meredith Weber: I have been the PR Assistant since Fall 2010. We joke at Jettison that I want to be referred to as the FACE, but I do take promotion of Jettison very seriously. I believe whole-heartedly in the project and people behind it. Emanuel Aguilar: I was one of the …

Jayson Lawfer: The Nevica Project

In our contemporary times, you will not (always) find the life-long artist, or the sole curator or even the staple art collector/dealer/consultant ménage trio. You might instead see professionals in the arts wearing many hats working synonymously as artists, curators, consultants, directors and educators. These hats belong to many of today’s creative professionals and they also belong to Jayson Lawfer. At his very foundation, Jayson Lawfer is a skilled potter and photographer. Lawfer has an extensive curatorial history and directs the highly regarded ArtReach program at Lillstreet Art Center. Separate but also threaded into all of this, Lawfer is also the founder and director of an art consulting business called The Nevica Project—a contemporary art sales and consulting business. The Nevica Project’s mission is, “to develop a unique relationship between highly skilled artists, an online gallery and collectible art.” From one hat-wearer to another it is hard to shake the curiosity of wanting to know how a person like Lawfer does it all. Especially when he still manages to find studio time. It is possible …

In The Studio with Hebru Brantley

On March 18th, Hebru Brantley will have his first solo show at Zhou B Gallery. The show is entitled Afro-Futurism: Impossible View. As Hebru puts his show together, SIFC has been invited into his studio to document his process and explore the origins of his work through a five-part video series.
In this first video we ask Hebru to describe his influences and what he hopes his audiences will take from his show.

In Chicago, Art Advocacy Grows

Why leave vacant public retail space empty – then no one can enjoy it. Instead, why not put these spaces to better use reflecting something other than a corporate commercial agenda? We art advocates are aware of the artistic vibrancy in Chicago. The Chicago Loop Alliance is too, which is why they started the Pop-Up Art Loop initiative. Pop-Up Art Loop takes over empty store fronts all over the downtown Chicago area. For the past year they have filled a number of spaces with strong art exhibits showcasing Chicago-based artists like Christophe Roberts and Ed Paschke. Want to know what happens when Damien Hirst meets Shepard Fairey? Better check out the next Pop-Up Art Loop space this Thursday, October 7th. Innovative art spaces taking over Chicago is not a trend. Alternative art spaces have existed for many decades. This must be a sign of the times because art communities, organizational initiatives and alternative programming are growing almost innumerably in the most depressing financial situation that the city of Chicago has faced in a long time. Speaking of ‘time’, the Merchandise Mart  and all its …