Author: Tempestt Hazel

Who Are Your Teachers?: After Richard Hunt at the Koehnline Museum of Art

This summer the exhibition Sculpting A Chicago Artist: Richard Hunt and His Teachers Nellie Barr and Egon Weiner opened at the Koehnline Museum of Art at Oakton Community College, curated by Nathan Harpaz. Using his relationship with these two teachers, this exhibition taps into some of Hunt’s most formative years and the people he gravitated to as he moved closer to his calling–from adolescence to his college days. As an artist who has been making work in Chicago for over 60 years, Richard Hunt has had an incredible influence–not just on artists, not just on Chicago, but from coast to coast and throughout the world. In a way that is often quietly kept and unseen, this exhibition shifts our understanding of Hunt’s influence in a new direction that positions him as the influenced–something we aren’t often lucky enough to see in an exhibition space, but rather is reserved for the pages of books. His resonance and expansive presence first registered to me in 2009 when I attended the James A. Porter Colloquium at Howard University. Determined to find a quiet …

Who Are Your Teachers?: Cecil McDonald, Jr.

I met Cecil McDonald, Jr. at the same time that I met Dawoud Bey–which was during the Photo I class at Columbia College Chicago that I didn’t need to take but wanted to as a fan of both of their work. Since that day, I never imagined that Cecil would be the kind of person who would continue to offer me some of the most exciting and terrifying growth opportunities that I would have in my recent career. First, he asked me to write about his series Domestic Observations & Occurrences for the 2014 Contact Sheet, which is also known as the Light Work Annual. This marked my first piece of writing published on a renowned and national platform. I was terrified and honored–which I can feel between the words whenever I read back on that essay. Then, years later, when Cecil was working on his new monograph, In the Company of Black, he asked to use that essay for the foreword of the book, but I insisted on writing something new. After knowing him for …

Life and Design Style: An Interview with Margot Harrington

Margot Harrington is a designer, but even as I write that statement it seems inadequate. While she has worked on and led projects centered around shaping websites, creating brands, dreaming up site-specific installations, and composing publications, the way she speaks of her work makes it clear that her design practice isn’t simply an occupation–it’s a lifestyle. Starting from her days growing up in a word and image-loving family in Minnesota, to now being a freelance designer with her company Pitch Union Design, an art director for Bitch Media, and a multidisciplinary artist, Margot’s design style has been developing and evolving in quiet and significant ways since before she was even exploring the question of what her lifework would be. Given the fact that she is an artist with a wide practice that collides with a mix of experiences and influences, our conversation touched on a range of topics. We discussed everything from the ways we stumble magnificently in order to discover what does and doesn’t work for our lives, to the importance of eastern medicine and self-preservation …

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 …

An Interview with Jovencio de la Paz

For those who aren’t convinced of the complexities that abstraction can hold, I offer the work of Jovencio de la Paz to persuade you. Once you get past the boldness of his large fabric or felted surfaces and move through the elegance of overlapping shapes lingering in space, you’ll find something symbolic, celestial, ancestral, and deeply political. The way he approaches form and materials evidences a careful consideration of the heavy repercussions of colonialism and trade, art history, and contemporary life. He takes these anchors and combines them with a personal yet widely relevant symbology that embraces the range of his cultural inheritance. He employs all of it and then some from his perspective as an immigrant to the United States from Singapore, as an artist harnessing the tools of queer aesthetics, and as a maker using materials and processes that have countless generations of makers behind them. The result is a synthesis and translation of a highly personal and global visual language. After receiving his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, de la …

Interview with Jan Tichy, Part 1

Tempestt Hazel: I’m curious about your decisions for laying out the East Gallery with the videos. How much of this was your decision? Jan Tichy: All of it. Everything was my choice. It was clear to me that this was the darkest space, and many times when I’m doing work in these dark spaces people relate to them as these dark photographic spaces in which images are being created. It felt natural to create something like what you see here with Installation No. 15 (Siskind). And even the relationship between the street, this gallery and the other gallery is a sort of camera obscura. But I wasn’t interested in recreating that. I’ve had previous pieces dealing with that specifically. But here there is the notion of the dark space that the image is being created in, like in a camera or in our eye. I did think about the space specifically because it’s not a typical white cube. There is this presence of a wall, and it came together with Siskind who was taking pictures …

Attempts, Impulses and Talking With Fear, Revisited

  Forward motion is ineluctable. It is something that most of us accept as a part of life. Art-minded individuals tend to be particularly sensitive to this intrinsic vanward impulse, which makes the occasional chance to stop and reflect something to be appreciated. Almost two years after our initial interview about the series Talking With Fear About Dying Tomorrow, Matt Austin and I once again found ourselves in conversation about the photographic fragments of his travels several summers ago. Only this time around a selection of photos have been pulled from the series and placed within the context of  Everyday Always Trying, the inaugural exhibition of The Coat Check at David Weinberg Photography. Revisiting the past isn’t always easy or even desired, but we tried it anyway–perhaps channeling the ideas at the heart of the exhibition. Over drinks on a  warm fall evening, I got the opportunity to ask Matt about the different definitions of impulsive, the value in our attempts and who to call if you’re looking for a good time in Fargo. Tempestt …