All posts tagged: chicago art community

Framing the Body: A Critical Look at Witkin’s Photographic Legacy

“Brilliant and divisive,” those were the words Catherine Edelman, gallery owner and panel moderator, used to describe acclaimed photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. The latest exhibition at Catherine Edelman Gallery, Joel-Peter Witkin: From the Studio, features more than 25 photographs, 80 drawings, as well as sketchbooks and journals, darkroom tools and cameras, letters, and contact sheets. But it was Witkins mission, “to create photographs that show the beauty of marginalized people,” and how he executes that aim was the primary topic of discussion for the ‘Otherness & Beauty’ panel hosted by the gallery on June 1. The panel included painter, writer and disability activist Riva Lehrer, art therapist Deb DelSignore, and art historian Mark B. Pohlad. Witkin, an American artist based in Albuquerque, photographs his subjects in carefully crafted settings and utilizes manual darkroom techniques to produce surreal images. The subjects are often “intersex, post and pre-op individuals, and people born with physical abnormalities.” Lehrer makes artwork depicting similar marginalized people, with one very important difference—she is a portrait artist. Lehrer works collaboratively with her subjects to …

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 …

Intimate Justice: Leah Ball

“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 Leah Ball about erotica for the self, the role of the artist, and the documentation of pleasure in her Humboldt Park studio.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: Can you discuss the basic groundwork for combining ceramics with sexual, sensual images and text? Leah Ball: At a young age I was super impressed that my dad could draw a realistic looking human from memory. I have no idea why, but as a kid I thought that was magic—so I practiced and practiced to do the same. I think the reality is that I have been trying to reclaim my body since as far back as I can remember. I have been sexualized my whole life. These moments are some of my most vivid memories, so I always revisit themes of reclamation in my work. I think that’s …

"Frontispiece // The Uncanny Imagination": An Interview with Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, PART II

After wandering through Pilsen, Becket Flannery and I returned to ACRE Projects, where Grant Ray had finished hanging his work for The Uncanny Imagination. As Becket installed his collages for Frontispiece, Grant explained to me his interest in using the photographic medium as a means of documentation, of using scientific processes to present seemingly mundane information and consequently create a social, cultural dialogue. The following conversation proceeds from that explanation and is the second part of my interview with the two artists as they prepared for their exhibition opening. Read PART I here. Jenny Lam: How and when did you first become interested in this kind of documentation? Grant Ray: About a year after my undergraduate studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, I was really influenced by Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. I came from a street photography background in which I took photographs of things as they existed, and I got not bored with it, but interested in how I could use photography to tell a story that didn’t necessarily …

On Chicago Street Art: Community

Part I: Chicago street artist Blutt talks about his work and experiences living as a street artist in Chicago. Blutt: The name I use for my artwork is Blutt. I live in Chicago and grew up around the Midwest and just kind of based on the stuff I grew up with like the music and skateboarding and graffiti and comic books. I do mostly nowadays stuff that is studio work paintings and drawings but I also have stickers and posters that I put up on the street. That stuff is mostly prints and reproductions that are pretty cheap and I can put them out there when I am out and about doing whatever. It seems to work pretty well when I can quickly throw stuff up and people see it and recognize it and tend to like it for the most part. Sometimes a few people tear it down but I like that too. When did you decide to start creating street art? Blutt: I kind of made a concerted effort to do that probably …