All posts tagged: Photography

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 …

#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 …

Fulfilling Fantasies: Contemporary Chicago Drag Works at Hokin Gallery

Visual artist, performer, and curator Kelly Boner has appropriately given herself the title of ‘Bubblepop Electric Creative Powerhouse’ with her own aesthetic and drag influences stemming from eclectic sources ranging from Georgia O’Keefe to anime. Boner’s curatorial project and exhibition Fulfilled Fantasies: Contemporary Drag Works, currently at Hokin Gallery at Columbia College, features photography where the image-making process is a collaboration between the photographer and subject. With both the photographer’s eye and the creative vision of the performer forming the final photograph, together they create a cocktail of colorful illusion, flawless execution, and original looks that capture a personality and/or character fully. In this interview, Kelly Boner discusses the endless and diverse talent in Chicago’s drag scene, the importance of representing it in non-traditional spaces, and the ways in which gender can be “both a prison and a palace.” This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Christina Nafziger: Let’s begin with your own artistic practice. Can you tell me a bit about your practice as a performer and drag queen? What attracted you …

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 …

Faces of Hyde Park with Brian Carroll

I must have stumbled upon Brian’s work when I first moved to Chicago — roughly five years ago — where I found my home in Hyde Park. It’s been years and I’m still here, still walking down 55th, taking a left, passing The Cove and finding a sunny spot at Promontory Point. After five years I have come to know familiar faces, people who I’ve never spoken to but I’ve seen every morning. When I stopped into Open Produce, the local grocery store, this summer, a regular customer stopped me and said, “I didn’t see you at the lake this morning. I brought Bridget, but we must have missed you.” Bridget, his dog, is always swimming over to me during my morning dips. We usually talk for a few moments when I exit the water, but it’s nothing monumental. But there he is, every morning, and there I am, too, like clockwork waiting to see each other on our morning swim. Since following him on social media years ago, I’ll scroll through my feed and I’ll stop, and smile, as …

Mitch Buangsuwon and Modern Americana

Mitch Buangsuwon (he/him) is a photographer, director, and filmmaker based in Chicago and Los Angeles. His work focuses on familial connections and issues. His current film project explores the ways that dementia and lack of control affect a family and his current photography project documents people’s lives across America and delves into their sense of safety. Mitch’s work can be found at mitchb.us. Cecilia Kearney: Let’s start with your background, tell me a little bit about yourself. Mitch Buangsuwon: My name is Aaron Mitchell Buangsuwon. I was born and raised in Los Angles, California. I have only recently been living in Chicago since I moved here for school, so I am very much still heavily tied to my California identity. My dad immigrated from Bangkok, Thailand to go to college where he met my mom—they’re divorced now. I was in a family that was really into the outdoors and traveling, so I was lucky to be able to go all over the U.S. and the world. As a kid, I went to Switzerland a lot as well …

Abolitionist Sarah-Ji Uses Photography To Reimagine Community Liberation

Sarah-Ji (she/her) is a movement photographer and abolitionist who documents freedom struggles in Chicago. She is also an active member of For the People Artists Collective, a squad of Black and artists of color who also organize and create work that “uplifts and projects struggle, resistance, liberation, and survival within and for marginalized communities and movements.” For nearly a decade she has created a visual archive of liberation struggles for Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer, trans, and intersex lives. She documents and sheds light on the everyday people of Chicago who show up and actively resist systemic, hyper-local and social oppression. Thus, her camera becomes a tool of liberation and a pathway toward envisioning a world without police and prisons, where struggle does not take precedence over love, justice, and community. Her photography illustrates the power of sustaining strong relationships as organizing artists while committing to the heavy lift of resistance and social activism. This interview was shortened for length and clarity.  Ireashia: Tell me a little about how you came to photography and what drew …

Intimate Justice: Marzena Abrahamik

“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 Marzena Abrahamik about women in the cannabis industry, friendship, and sisterhood.  S. Nicole Lane: What brought you to Chicago? How has the community influenced your practice? Marina Abrahamik: I was born in Poland, raised in Greece, and arrived to Chicago at the end of the summer before my freshman year of high school. I went to a Catholic high school in the city for a year and then to a public high school in the suburbs. I went to Loyola for my undergrad and then attended SAIC before grad school. Having the opportunity to experience different cultures and neighborhoods made me outgoing, easygoing, and independent but also awakened a curiosity for the unknown and to love open ended questions. In a similar way, each body of work is composed of photographs that have been made not only in various locations, but also in …

Image: Bri Beck leans into the frame from the right side, looking down at a tan mixed media garment piece on a white pedestal. Other works can be seen in the background. Photo by Ryan Edmund.

Locating Your Practice in ‘Chicago Disability Activism, Arts, and Design,’ with Bri Beck

“I could have never expected this, it’s so exciting. It [makes me] feel like my story has been told for a very long time, and I don’t always have to be the one telling my story,” asserts Bri Beck while discussing the work in Chicago Disability Activism, Arts, and Design: 1970s to Today at Gallery 400. The exhibition is a multi-generational sampling of the disability-centered artwork that has been coming out of Chicago over the last fifty-plus years. Artist and art therapy graduate student Bri Beck and I visit the exhibition to discuss her experience as a part of this rich history. As we make our way through the gallery, Beck points out artists she’s worked with, portraits of people she recognizes, and professors she’s been mentored by. “I love being a part of the Chicago disability community,” says Beck. A close-knit and interconnected community, she explains, “there aren’t very many of us!” The seemingly small circle of artists and activists doing disability work in Chicago is precisely what has made the city an epicenter for advocacy and …

City Visions: Urban Space, Daily Life, and the Camera

Treated with fumes and mercury vapor, the silver-polished metal plate is exposed to the light of a sunny Parisian day and reveals a latent image on its mirror-like surface: the curve of a cobblestone street leads the eye down rows of various-sized structures, toward a far-off vanishing point in the cityscape. Legible in the foreground, out in front of what appears to be a residential building, we see two figures miniaturized within the sweeping panorama. Captured by Louis Daguerre, inventor of the eponymous daguerreotype technique, this 1838 photograph, titled Boulevard du Temple, is believed to be the first picture ever created of city space and daily urban life. With its elevated perspective looking down and across this vista, Daguerre’s photo situates the viewer as an observer who is simultaneously in the city but also looking at it from some remove, as if through a window. The wide angle and sense of distance allow the viewer to consider the scene aesthetically: the contrast and quality of light, the atmosphere, the architectural forms. At the same time, …

Tonika G. Johnson Uses Visual Activism to Combat Distorted Truth

Tonika G. Johnson (she/her) is an Englewood photographer and activist who uses photography and digital media to explore Chicago’s racial and economic disparities. She harnesses the provocative power of photographs and moving image in her latest project Folded Map, where she looks specifically at issues of segregation and housing by juxtaposing images of streets on Chicago’s South Side with their sister addresses on the North Side. The stark difference in the care of buildings, houses, and streets between the two locations is jarring and visually unsettling. The omnipresent nature of structural racism and systemic oppression has never been clearer. But Johnson does more than show these disparities. She creates a bridge and creates space for North and South Side residents to come together and discuss how segregation impacts their lives. In doing so, Johnson urges the Chicago public to continue to have these difficult conversations. I have been an admirer of Johnson’s work since Everyday Rituals, her multimedia project that “asserts the divinity of regular people.” She captures her community with loving precision and pride. …

“Leaf by Leaf” at the Chicago Artist Coalition

How does our environment affect our cultural memory and identity? What relationship does geography have with power and how does it affect diasporic communities? HATCH Project exhibition “Leaf by Leaf” at the Chicago Artist Coalition investigates these urgent questions that are embedded within the plants, the land, and the organic elements that surround us. Featured artists include India Martin, Whit Forrester, and Yasmin Spiro, who all create works that unveil a beautiful yet complicated ecology that is cultural, political, and spiritual. My experience with the exhibition grew from a sense of awe within the breathtaking photographs of India Martin’s birthplace of Hawaii, to the spiritual and sublime within Whit Forrester’s plant-turned-holy icons, landing at a textural encounter of materials found in the earth that comprise the sculptural work of Yasmin Spiro. To investigate these themes deeper in the artists’ work, I asked each of the artists three questions about one specific piece that was featured in “Leaf by Leaf.” Sabrina Greig, curator of the exhibition and HATCH project curator-in-residence, introduces us to a unifying theme …

Glorimar Sanchez on Puerto Rico, Film, and Disseminating Information

Glorimar Marrero Sánchez is a self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist-director-photographer-screenwriter based in Puerto Rico. She was selected as one of the two artists in the three-month Puerto Rican Disaster Relief Residency at the University of Chicago. The residency was launched to support academics, researchers, and artists who have been severely affected or displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The program, which is a collaboration between The Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, Office of Admissions, Campus and Student Life, UChicago Arts, UChicagoGRAD, The Graham School, and the Office of the Provost, provides housing, transportation, stipends, and resources.  The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.  S. Nicole Lane: Can you begin with your background in film and photography, and where you’re from? Glorimar Marrero Sánchez: I’m from the town of Barranquitas. It is in the mountains of Puerto Rico. I am a result of the public educational system of Puerto Rico. Then I went to University of Puerto Rico. I did a BA in art, concentration in sociology, in the Mayagüez campus. After that, I got a …

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 …

Review: Reinterpreting Religion, at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Upon entering the long, dim exhibition hall at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, the first encounter in Reinterpreting Religion is Yvette Mayorga’s bubblegum pink, white, and gold installation Guns and Virgins (2018). With its offering of confectionary AR-15s, cartoonish police officers, American flags, Brown prostrate bodies, and a pair of frosting-drenched basketball shoes, Mayorga’s physically flattened yet confrontational work spurs the viewer to lay down their divine expectations at the altar of America’s violent tendencies and obsessive consumerism. Though Christianity, the predominant religion in the United States by far, promotes teachings centered on loving your neighbor, accepting the weary traveler, and turning the other cheek to violence, 81% of “white, born again/evangelical Christians” voted for Donald Trump despite his penchant for encouraging violence on the campaign trail and admittance of sexually assaulting women. Throughout Lauren Leving’s curatorial process, she recognized that religion seemed to have been commandeered as a tool to divide rather than unite communities across America. Though the exhibition kicks off with candy-coated automatic weapons, the intention of Reinterpreting Religion is to …

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 …

‘Body As Image’ Exhibition at Chicago Artists Coalition

The ‘Body As Image’ exhibition featuring the work of Kioto Aoki, Colleen Keihm, and Darryl DeAngelo Terrell creates a space in which black identity and body politics are simultaneously explored within a historical context through the literal lens of photography, while also repositioning itself outside of these narratives by using alternative modes of image-making such as cyanotypes and photograms. This exhibition, presented by Chicago Artist Coalition, features HATCH Project artists-in-residence and was curated by Chicago-based Sabrina Greig, who is the current curator-in-residence. The exhibition is on view from April 27th – May 17th. Walking into the Body as Image exhibition at Chicago Artist Coalition’s gallery, I immediately noticed that each piece, as well as the gallery itself, is completely absent of color. However, that is not to say it is lacking variance in tone. The stark white of the walls of the gallery provide a dramatic contrast that allowed me to take notice of the subtle variations in tone in the many shades of blacks and browns present within the work. Not only do the darker …

Intimate Justice: Jeanne Donegan

“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 Jeanne Donegan in her warm apartment over wine and chocolate about pleasure as a spectrum, the mouth as a vagina, and the importance of desire.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: I stumbled upon your work and it was the video piece—I think it’s called “Sink,”—when I first moved to Chicago, so a few years ago, I guess. Jeanne Donegan: Oh, cool. SNL: And then somebody emailed me—a colleague from Sixty [Greg]—and they were like, “Hey, you should look at this artist for your column?” And I freaked out when I saw that “Sink” video because I was like, “Oh my god!” I loved this person’s work and so I’m glad it’s made it full circle.  JD: Yeah. That’s so cool. It’s always so cool to hear when people are talking about me behind my …

In Conversation with Terttu Uibopuu

“This is what making work should be like. You should be nervous and you should be a little bit scared. And you should feel kind of apprehensive and you should feel like you’re doing something kind of wrong. That’s the state I want to be in when I make my work. I don’t want to be comfortable. I don’t want to know what the hell I’m doing. I want to feel like I’m trying something new and scary and weird. Something not so polite and not comfortable for anybody.” – Terttu Uibopuu Estonian-American photographer Terttu Uibopuu moved to the United States in 2002. Born in 1984, in Soviet-occupied Estonia, Uibopuu lived much of her formative years during the fall of the Soviet Union. After receiving a photography award from the cigarette company Phillip Morris in 2001, she booked a one-way ticket to the United States. At the age of 17, Uibopuu found herself in a small city in northern Illinois where she began documenting her experiences and forging herself a career in photography. In this …

Review: “Resilient Images” at the Hyde Park Art Center

Resilient Images confronts the viewer before one even walks through the gallery’s door. Look up slightly, and you will see Justine Pluvinage’s video installation Amazons facing out onto Cornell Avenue from the inside of the building, with its multiple panels of female subjects taking an epic, slow-motion stroll through both greenery and crumbling industrial architecture. If you’re walking with your head down through the bitter temperatures of a typical Chicago winter, you’re likely to miss this introduction entirely. For the artists, though, this might simply be indicative of the sort of resilience they are gesturing towards in their work. This exhibition is the result of a year-long artistic exchange between Hyde Park Art Center and the Centre Regionale de la Photographie Nord—Pas-de-Calais, featuring the artists Justine Pluvinage and David Schalliol. Both artists generated a site-specific work out of their respective residencies without further collaboration or dialogue with the other participant — Pluvinage travelled from France to Chicago to shoot her film, while Schalliol’s work was made in Hauts-de-France. Yet the pieces shown in Resilient Images …

Review: “Woman With A Camera” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

When I go to an art museum, I tend to be the type of person that stays a few hours too long. I arrive at the museum when it opens, and leave when it closes. Although most visitors do not put themselves through this rigorous stampede of images that for me always ends with an exhausting—but nevertheless satisfying—experience, most art museum-goers can relate to this kind of visual fatigue that often comes with the occasional visit, no matter how enjoyable the art. This is how I felt when I came across the breath of fresh air that was the exhibition Woman with a Camera at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) last month. The exhibition was located on the fourth floor of the museum, and I stumbled up the stairs to find an intimate, yellow space filled with photographs from powerful female icons on the forefront of photography such as Marina Abramović and Laurie Simmons, alongside work by artists I did not recognize, but will not soon forget. I was both pleasantly surprised and struck by the …

Art at Work: Georgia Schwender at Fermilab Art Gallery

In this series, we explore the idea of art institutions with a primary audience deliberately or functionally outside the field of art. These venues primarily focus on completely unrelated disciplines, but are also invested in art collecting, exhibition, or production. For this installment, we look about an hour west of Chicago to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, known as Fermilab: one of the most advanced particle accelerators in the world. There, government scientists research the frontiers of particle physics, from quarks to dark matter. Wilson Hall, the lab’s central building, is named for founder Robert Rathbun Wilson, a Manhattan Project physicist and the artist of several massive public sculptures that pepper the campus. It also houses the Fermilab Art Gallery, which Wilson established to explore his dual interests in science and aesthetics. Search “art at Fermilab” online today and, in addition to the gallery and artist-in-residence program, you might learn about “art,” the laboratory’s software workflow protocol. “art is an event-processing framework for particle physics experiments,” the website explains. Though the name is a coincidence, …

Intimate Justice: Derrick Woods-Morrow

“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 Derrick Woods-Morrow in his studio about childhood romance, the inherent racism in photography, and how power operates in sex.  S. Nicole Lane: So let’s start with where you’re from. You’re from North Carolina, like me. Derrick Woods-Morrow: Yeah! I went home last summer and there was a confederate parade. It was pre-Trump. It was right before the election or something, and it was 8 men with rifles and confederate flags walking up and down the highway shouting and marching. I live on the North East Side, closer to Brown Summit, so closer to the country. It’s almost like I grew up with that. That didn’t scare me. Charlottesville, which is considered mostly progressive is sort of scarier in a way, but that behavior [in NC] was like, “Oh who are these idiots, they’re probably the cousins of someone I went …

Snapshot: Pilsen Days by Akito Tsuda

Snapshot is a Sixty column that takes a quick look at art history as it happens in Chicago. We send artists and organizers six short and sweet questions to tell us about what they are doing right at this moment. We sent questions to Japanese artist Akito Tsuda, whose photo exhibit Pilsen Days showcases images of the neighborhood he took in the early 1990s while he was a student at Columbia College. Pilsen Days is currently on view at La Catrina Cafe. The non-profit Cultura in Pilsen fundraised to  organize a limited edition printing of Tsuda’s photos and to cover the travel costs to bring the artist from his home in Osaka, Japan to Chicago for the first time in over 20 years. Tsuda will be in conversation with Sebastian Hidalgo at La Catrina Cafe on November 5, 2017 from 2 – 5 pm for Pilsen Days Artist Talk and Farewell Reception.   Sixty Inches From Center: What got you interested in photographing Pilsen and what was the experience like? Akito Tsuda: I was attracted to the fact that in Pilsen …