All posts filed under: Columns + Series

Featured image: Selva Aparicio, Entre Nosotros (Among Us) Detail, 2020. Concrete tiles cast from human cadavers. The images show a close up of the piece, showing details of a grid of square, concrete blocks. Each block has different folds, and one shows a nipple, all cast from human parts. Photo by Robert Chase Heishman. Image courtesy of the artist.

Works Cited: Selva Aparicio on Life, Death, and Breaking Taboo

It goes without saying that so much of the labor in an artist’s practice goes unseen, ranging from the countless hours of trial and error experimenting with a medium before getting it right, to the often mind-numbing planning and prep work when starting a new piece. However, there is yet another layer below the surface of this complex production that is inherent to the creative process: research. There is a collection of information, images, and archives that happens even before any pen is put to paper, feeding and informing an artist’s body of work. Works Cited asks artists to uncover this part of their practice with us, sharing research materials such as essays, playlists, online archives, and tips on how to navigate them. In the spirit of open access, this column also serves as a resource in and of itself, as each interview includes access to these materials in the form of either reading lists or sharable links. In this edition, I spoke with Selva Aparicio, whose interdisciplinary work examines life, death, and mourning through the use …

Beyond the Page: Tanuja Devi Jagernauth

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. For this installment, I interviewed Tanuja Devi Jagernauth — Indo-Caribbean playwright, dramaturg, organizer — about how her practices in theater, prison abolition, healing justice, and transformative justice interconnect; creating spaces for BIPOC theater-makers; doing mutual aid during and beyond the pandemic; and how she challenges systems of oppression and struggles for collective liberation through her work. Tanuja and I spoke in May. We recognize that in the weeks since then there has been a broadened nation-wide uprising against policing and other white supremacist systems — an uprising sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and innumerable others, as well as by other forms of anti-Black violence. We recognize that these racist acts are part of a long, systematized lineage. And we recognize that there have always been organizers and artists visioning and building against, beyond, and outside of that. We have decided to publish this …

Works Cited: Assotto’s Child at the Altar

It goes without saying that so much of the labor in an artist’s practice goes unseen, ranging from the countless hours of trial and error experimenting with a medium before getting it right, to the often mind-numbing planning and prep work when starting a new piece. However, there is yet another layer below the surface of this complex production that is inherent to the creative process: research. There is collection of information, images, and archives that happens even before any pen is put to paper, feeding and informing an artist’s body of work. Works Cited asks artists to uncover this part of their practice with us, sharing research materials such as essays, playlists, online archives, and tips on how to navigate them. In the spirit of open access, this column also serves as a resource in and of itself, as each interview includes access to these materials in the form of either reading lists or sharable links. In this edition, I spoke with Mario LaMothe about his collaborative project Assotto’s Child at the Altar, which …

Intimate Justice: Sarah Bastress

“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 with Rogers Park resident, Sarah Bastress, who hails from West Virginia and paints the queer body. S. Nicole Lane: How did you end up in Chicago? How did being raised in West Virginia impact your work? (I’m from North Carolina! Southern queers unite!) Sarah Bastress: I came to Chicago to do my post-bacc at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and then went on to do my MFA there, too. I ended up really enjoying my neighborhood and staying. I appreciate you asking about West Virginia. It has impacted my work a great deal. I don’t have an answer for you that isn’t incredibly long-winded. Since Trump won, the question is much more complicated. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I miss mountains–the ones that have yet to be blown up to make …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: Inaê Moreira and Alexandria Eregbu in Conversation (English Version)

This interview has been edited for clarity and length, and translated for our readers in Brazil. Leia este artigo em português. Inaê Moreira: Hi Alexandria, pleasure to meet you! I’m an artist from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. I work with body arts, dance and performance. Through my work I have been investigating issues involving ancestry and Black memory. I would like to know what you have created in this field: Black body, ancestry, memory? Alexandria Eregbu: Hi Inaê! There are several works throughout my practice which address the Black body, memory, and ancestry. From a materiality standpoint–one of the primary reasons I began working with indigo dye came from my curiosity to learn more about Black people’s contributions to textile history. This history was not one that was acknowledged during my time in art school while studying fibers, or artmaking period for that matter. Intellectually, I wanted to immerse myself in more resources that addressed West Africa’s connections to cloth and performativity as a means to better inform my understanding of cultural and traditional activities taking …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: Inaê Moreira and Alexandria Eregbu in Conversation (Portuguese Version)

Esta entrevista foi editada para garantir clareza e comprimento, e foi traduzida para nossos leitores no Brasil. Read this in English. Inaê Moreira: Oi Alexandria, muito prazer! Sou uma artista de salvador, bahia, brasil. Trabalho com as artes do corpo, dança e performance. Através do meu trabalho tenho investigando questões que envolvem ancestralidade e memória negra. Gostaria de saber o que você tem criado nesse campo: corpo negro, ancestralidade, memória? Alexandria Eregbu: Oi Inaê! Há muitos trabalhos dentro da minha prática que lidam com o corpo negro, memória, e ancestralidade. Do ponto de vista da materialidade- uma das razões principais pelas quais eu comecei a trabalhar com a tintura do índigo veio da minha curiosidade para aprender mais sobre a contribuição negra à história da produção têxtil. Essa história não era reconhecida durante meu tempo na escola de arte, quando me concentrei em fibras. Intelectualmente, eu queria estar imersa em mais recursos que se refiram às conexões da África ocidental com os tecidos e com a performatividade como maneira de melhor informar meu entendimento de atividades …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: Adriana Araujo and Josh Rios in Conversation (English Version)

This interview has been edited for clarity and length, and translated for our readers in Brazil. Leia este artigo em português. Adriana Araujo: I would like to start our encounter from the middle, from this time of here and now, constituting ourselves continuously. At this very moment, I am sitting beside a tree which I call Generosa [‘Generous’]. It is a mango tree at the house where I live that gives juicy and sweet fruit, shelters birds, lizards, bats, and ants; among other living beings, some invisible. Besides containing a whole world in itself, Generosa gives shade and mitigates the heat on sunny days in the town where I have lived for a little less than five years, Santa Maria da Vitória. Here, we have intense sun almost every day (sometimes I think the evenings too). The sky dawned today partially cloudy, but most days the sky is very blue. When I miss Salvador, the city where I grew up and spent most of my life, too much, I just need to look up to the …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: Adriana Araujo and Josh Rios in Conversation (Portuguese Version)

Esta entrevista foi editada para garantir clareza e comprimento, e foi traduzida para nossos leitores no Brasil. Read this in English. Adriana Araujo: Gostaria de começar nosso encontro pelo meio, esse tempo aqui agora, nos constituindo continuamente.  Estou neste momento ao lado de uma árvore a quem chamo de Generosa, é uma mangueira do quintal da casa que vivo, que dá frutos suculentos e doces, ela abriga pássaros, lagartixas, morcegos, formigas, entre outros seres vivos, alguns invisíveis. Além de abrigar um mundo inteiro em si, Generosa produz sombra e ameniza o calor nos dias ensolarados da cidade que vivo faz pouco menos de cinco anos, Santa Maria da Vitória. Aqui quase todos os dias (às vezes penso que as noites também) são de sol intenso. O céu hoje amanheceu parcialmente nublado, mas quase sempre o céu é bem azul. Quando sinto muita saudade de Salvador, o lugar onde nasci e vivi a maior parte da minha vida, é só olhar para o céu e me inventar mais perto do mar. Pelo azul a gente quase acredita que …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: João Oliveira and Amina Ross in Conversation (English Version)

This interview has been edited for clarity and length, and translated for our readers in Brazil. Leia este artigo em português. Amina:  Hi João. I was looking at the prints made of the unfolded plastic animal skins and I think we share an interest in what exists beyond the surface of our everyday. As you put it so well, I see your interest in “a force capable of rupturing the surface of that to which we’ve become used.”Is there anything you hope to find in the unfolding of a body? In the rupturing of the surface? Is there anything that you haven’t found yet? What keeps you going in this exploration? João: Amina, hi! I will try to answer as best as I can, because these questions don’t have easy or immediate answers. I still haven’t found out anything, and I don’t think I’ve ever done it for an answer or for what I expect to find. I keep exploring because of the moving force that even the most banal question can have. In that sense, …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: João Oliveira and Amina Ross in Conversation (Portuguese Version)

Esta entrevista foi editada para garantir clareza e comprimento, e foi traduzida para nossos leitores no Brasil. Read this in English. Amina: Oi João, eu estava olhando as gravuras feitas com as peles de animais de plástico abertas e achei que temos um interesse em comum naquilo que existe alem da superficie do dia-a-dia. Como você expressou tão bem, eu vejo seu interesse em uma “força capaz de romper a superfície daquilo que se acostumou.” Existe alguma coisa que você procura encontrar no desdobramento de um corpo? No rompimento da superfície? Há ainda alguma coisa que você não encontrou? O que continua a te mover nessa exploração? João: Amina, oi. Vou tentar responder como posso porque não são perguntas de respostas fáceis ou imediatas. Ainda não encontrei nada e acho que nunca fiz pela resposta ou pelo que espero encontrar. Me mantenho nessa exploração pela própria força movente que uma pergunta, por mais banal que seja, pode ter e, nesse sentido, é aí que a superfície se rompe porque uma pergunta move outra e movendo mais uma, continua. …

Featured image: Sahar Mustafah sits outdoors, smiling and looking off-camera. She wears a black winter coat, light grey scarf, and large hoop earrings. A bush with tan leaves fills most of the space behind her, with greenery and parts of a building behind that. Photo by Mark Blanchard.

Beyond the Page: Sahar Mustafah

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. For this installment, I interviewed fiction writer and high school English teacher Sahar Mustafah about her debut novel, “The Beauty of Your Face.” We spoke in January about her process of drafting, crafting, and publishing the book; how her writing and teaching inform each other; and key experiences — and women — that have shaped her as an author. “The Beauty of Your Face” (W.W. Norton, 2020) is available for pre-order. Check out the book launch event and reading at the American Writers Museum on April 7. Find Mustafah on Twitter @saharmustafah. This interview has been edited for length and clarity, and to limit plot-related spoilers to the contents of the prologue and the book jacket. Marya Spont-Lemus: I’ve admired your work since we met through StoryStudio’s “Novel in a Year” program in 2015. I loved your short story collection, Code of the West (Willow Books, 2017), and was completely absorbed …

Intimate Justice: Clitora Leigh

“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 met with Clitora Leigh in Andersonville to talk about strip clubs in Chicago, coming out as a sex worker, and being a sexy clown.  S. Nicole: I saw you perform at Reunion and was like—oh my gosh—I have to talk to this person! It was amazing. Are you from Chicago? If you’re not, what brought you here? Did you go to school?  Clitora Leigh: I’m originally from the Cleveland area. I’ve lived in Chicago for six years. I studied theater performance at Ohio University. I got my BFA, and then immediately after I graduated, I was like – okay, I have six hundred dollars in medical bills, how will I ever pay this off?! I couldn’t even fathom having six hundred dollars in my life. I was working in a daycare. Around that time, I started stripping. So, I’ve been stripping for, …

Featured image: Sharanya Sharma. Sharma sits with hands folded on a white table, with copies of “Set Fire to This Crooked House” and multi-colored notebooks in the foreground. Sharma wears a marigold cardigan open over a black and white striped shirt and smiles at the camera. Behind Sharma are several pastel throw pillows and a large plant, and natural light comes through the windows. Photo by Kristie Kahns Photography.

Beyond the Page: Sharanya Sharma

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. For this installment, I interviewed writer Sharanya Sharma about her MFA thesis project, “Set Fire to This Crooked House,” a poetry collection that she is in the process of developing into a book. We spoke this summer about how her poems re-envision Hindu mythology and critique histories of colonization, especially in relation to museum culture; how acts of retelling can help keep stories alive; and the broader impacts she hopes her work has. Three poems from “Set Fire to This Crooked House” are published on Sixty here. Find Sharma on Twitter @sharanyawrites. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Marya Spont-Lemus: I loved the poems you shared at the MFA reading and am so excited to learn more about the collection and your plans for it. Is that program what brought you to Chicago originally? SS: It is. I was a teacher full-time for six years and didn’t have much …

Most Read Articles of 2019

In 2019 Sixty published over 140 articles about Chicago’s artists, archivists, writers, organizers, activists, cultural workers, and extended community. This list of Sixty’s most-read articles of the year is a snapshot into the ones that had you lingering on our website throughout the year. Brought to you by writers Amanda Dee, Michael Fischer (with Gretchen Hasse), Angelica Flores, Courtney Graham (with Ryan Edmund), Tempestt Hazel, Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel (with Josh Johnson), Chelsea Ross, Sasha Tycko, and Tamara Becerra Valdez, here are our 10 most-read articles in no particular order: _All images taken from their original articles. All photo credit can be found at each link. 

El Nido Suroeste: An Interview with Alina Estrada

Brighton Park, Back of the Yards, and McKinley Park are neighborhoods on the Southwest Side of Chicago that are bundled together so often that they are given a similar reputation and narrative by the media. It isn’t always a good one. Today these neighborhoods still face violence, poverty, and more recently, gentrification. I would like to challenge the idea that violence is the only thing these neighborhoods have to offer by shining a light on the creative minds that enrich them. In this series, “The Southwest Nest,” I hope to celebrate and recognize these artists and share with you their perspectives of the neighborhoods they either work in or call home. Crafting has always been part of the fabric of the Southwest Side. Even as Crafts by Claudia, a neighborhood store that has been running for almost 40 years in Back of the Yards, prepares to close its doors, artist Alina Estrada is working on expanding her own crafty business, Party Mama Crafts. This Latina-owned business hosts painting and piñata-crafting workshops and classes. I had the …

Beyond the Page: Regina Martinez & Threewalls’ In-Session

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. For this installment, I interviewed Regina Martinez, Threewalls’ Artist and Artistic Engagement Manager, about the In-Session program — a critical interdisciplinary salon that incorporates reading, conversation, and performance together, now entering its third season. I spoke with Martinez in late July about the ideas and values behind In-Session, the theme she chose for its coming season, sensitivities of working between artists and institutions, and Martinez’s own path to and through this work. Check out In-Session’s third season, themed “The Art of Memory.” Find Threewalls @threewalls on Twitter and @three-walls on Instagram. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Marya Spont-Lemus: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about In-Session! I’m so glad I went to Udita Upadhyaya’s In-Session event in March, because I think this program has such a great premise and I’m excited to hear how other artists engage with it. Especially for readers who may …

Intimate Justice: John R. Harness

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. Hyde Park resident John R. Harness wears many hats: he’s a creator of table-rop role-playing games that are aggressively gay, a blow-job extraordinaire, and an expert Klingon speaker (helping coin the first term for the LGBTQ community). I met John at his apartment over the summer where we sat between his two cats in his living room and discussed gay bathhouses, fascists, and what heteronormative spaces can gain from gay spaces.  This interview was edited for length and clarity.  S. Nicole Lane: So I don’t know really anything about games… John R. Harness: My work is in the realm of table-top role playing games. I learned about Dungeons and Dragons when I was a young kid—I was like 6 or 8. A friendship of mine deteriorated because my friend’s father had been into D&D and introduced me to it and suddenly that was all I wanted …

You Are Here: Mark Joshua Epstein

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 Mark Joshua Epstein I usually live on …