Author: Ally Fouts

Breakroom Small Talk: A Review of Water Cooler at LVL3

Featured image: An installation view of Water Cooler at LVL3. On the left side of the frame is Rachel Youn’s piece “Lair”, and not he right are various textile pieces by KG with Youn’s piece “Prune” in the foreground. Image courtesy of LVL3. If you want to know the deepest, most personal information about someone, ask their coworkers first. Being confined to a small space with an island of misfits for grossly extended periods of time leads to intensely intimate conversations, bonds, and pseudo-friendships. Leading to uncomfortable chatter about your credit card debt with Phil from the department down the hall while you wait for your turn to use the microwave on your break, or confessing details about your partner’s bad habits with the hostess while you kill time between customers. Both learning and spilling graphic details from and to our coworkers aids in our survival of the work day. Both intensely awkward and oddly comforting, we create an environment of forced intimacy. Sterile, uncomfortable, familiar–this described environment is appreciated, mocked, and replicated precisely in …

Featured image: An installation view of Longing Compass at Chicago Artists Coalition, featuring the work of Karen Dana Cohen. The view of the gallery shows five paintings against white walls and four sculptural pieces with various additional three-dimensional pieces accompanying some of the canvases. The paintings all portray groups of people with large, gestural strokes of blue and red paint. Image courtesy of the artist.

One Half Digs Deeper, The Other Extends Further: A Review of Longing Compass

I dig deep into the caverns of my memory in order to recall the first time I used a drawing compass. My elementary school classroom appears, and I remember being enamoured by the simplicity of the concept: one compass leg serves as the anchor, the other as the mark maker. When these equally important legs come together, precise circles result. Not long after the experience, I took a trip to the beach. Still fascinated with the physics of this object, I used my body as the anchor, a stick as the mark maker, and twisted around, leaving perfect circles in the sand. All of these memories flood back to me with clarity upon visiting Longing Compass, featuring the work of BOLT artist-in-residence Karen Dana Cohen at the Chicago Artists Coalition.  In the accompanying exhibition text of Longing Compass, Cohen compares herself to the mark maker of the familiar object of a compass due to her having to relocate her studio to the basement of her home. It is important to discuss the complex circumstances that …

Seeds of Resistance installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2021. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography. Image courtesy of the museum.

A Seed, a Flower, a Field, a Battleground: A Review of Seeds of Resistance at the Broad Art Museum

I grab a knife and puncture a small slit into what I consider to be the top of a watermelon. The knife stands erect, and I push it down as if it is a lever as it smoothly slices the fruit. I hack up the red, juicy contents inside, and begin to pick out tiny black seeds and discount them into a pile. As a kid, I worried that if I accidentally ate a seed, an entire watermelon would grow inside of me. I laugh about this fear now, but I can’t say that it was entirely irrational. This is a fear, or an intrigue, that most of us have experienced at least once back when we were brand new to the world. Even with our brains still folding and our understanding of the world expanding, we recognized the power and potential of a single seed. The exhibition Seeds of Resistance at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, curated by Steven L. Bridges, features 12 globally diverse contemporary artists. The title alone makes me …