All posts filed under: Exhibitions

Caroline Kent’s Aesthetics of Encryption

Featured image: An installation view of Victoria/Veronica: Making Room. The back of the room displays an abstract painting by Caroline Kent with an organic shape cut out of the wall to its right. The middle of the room contains a desk. The entire room is green. Image courtesy of the artist and PATRON Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins. I mount the winding staircase that twists, helix like, through the heart of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Everything goes green as the third floor galleries come into view. My eyes adjust. As I continue to ascend, a once faint grumble — more playful than ominous, a nourishing timbre, like the sound of water seeping around dry roots — begins to swell. My ears adjust.  I am now positioned on the axis of Victoria/Veronica: Making Room, Caroline Kent’s first museum solo-show, presented across two adjacent galleries, which, in tandem, explore the fugitive language forged by an imaginary set of twins “who communicate telepathically across two domestic environments.” My whole body adjusts, oriented now to the resounding tranquility brought …

After, Other, and Before: An Interview with Kehayr Brown-Ransaw

Featured Image: Nico Sardina, Here We Are All Up In Arms (Ultimate Henry’s Comfort Zone PT 2), 2021. A pair of documentation photos where the left image shows a sculpture of a house, multi-colored and slightly askew. The house is made out of different fabrics with many patterns and colors. The image at right shows a close up of the back of the house where a soft body-like form occupies a cavity in the house. Photos by Michelle Caron-Pawlowsky. This interview is the first in a series with each of the current fellows at the Emerging Curators Institute (ECI), a Twin Cities-based organization that supports emerging curators through a year-long fellowship program that incorporates mentorship-based learning, professional development, and financial support. ECI is the first organization of its kind in the Twin Cities region and provides curatorial opportunities to Minnesota-based curators that are otherwise hard to come by. ECI supports four curators each year and is currently in its second fellowship cycle. Operating within the Minnesota arts community, ECI connects its fellows with local curators, …

Image: Felix Gonzalez-Torres,“Untitled” (Death by Gun), 1990. Print on paper, endless copies. Courtesy of the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art New York, purchased in part with funds from Arthur Fleischer, Jr. and Linda Barth Goldstein. Visitors are welcome to take a piece of paper from the stack that displays images of the 460 victims of death by firearm in the U.S. during one week in May 1989.

Snapshot: American Epidemic: Guns in the United States at MoCP

Featured image: Felix Gonzalez-Torres,“Untitled” (Death by Gun), 1990. Print on paper, endless copies. Visitors are welcome to take a piece of paper from the stack that displays images of the 460 victims of death by firearm in the U.S. during one week in May 1989. Courtesy of the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art New York, purchased in part with funds from Arthur Fleischer, Jr. and Linda Barth Goldstein. 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. For this feature, we sent a few questions to Karen Irvine, chief curator and deputy director at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP). American Epidemic: Guns in the United States features the work of ten artists who look at the legacy of guns in our country from a variety of perspectives. Irvine explains some of these artistic approaches in the interview below. Sixty Inches From …

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Saint Vitus Dance: Holy Things Dripping Sweat in Lauren Wy’s AUTODESIRE VOL. 1

Featured Image: Installation shot of AUTODESIRE in Gallery Two of Western Exhibitions. Center image sits a square wooden table and two chairs where visitors can request specific volumes of AUTODESIRE. To the right of the table, volumes of AUTODESIRE are closed and mounted on the gallery wall. Each piece’s wooden spine lists the artist’s last name, volume number, and title where appropriate. To the left of the table, two pieces are exhibited on the gallery wall. A final piece is displayed on the wall directly behind the central viewing table. Photo by James Prinz, courtesy of Western Exhibitions. Alice through the looking glass, St. Teresa’s translucent veined ecstasy, Sylvia’s rhinestone tears trickling to wet the country ground. Fantasy is hard work; tell that to the Sadeian Woman or Louise and her spiders. Our scene opens at the end of the world, it’s a blazing stage. Take the man at his word when he says, “I am become death.” Lights, camera, ACTION! Beneath the desert’s floodlight suns and Planet Hollywood’s unearthly glow, a champagne orgy twitches …

Eulogy: Jovan C. Speller at Aspect/Ratio Gallery

Featured image: Jovan C. Speller, “I sat there, Unafraid of the coming night.” Two wooden boards, split in the middle. Across the pair of them is an irregular black blob. On the right hand side, reflective wrinkles of light. In the bottom right hand corner, a seated figure with their back turned to us. Image by Avery Campbell. Courtesy of Aspect/Ratio Gallery. Imagine, you’re newly dead. You (the newly dead) have arrived from the world of the living by way of – you can’t quite recall: you remember a dark cloud branching out from the back of your head and you don’t know if it was spilled from your head or if it was being injected. You think you were seated when it happened, but who’s to say? You, the newly dead, are already beginning to lose conscious memories from your previous life. The experience of this makes you thirsty (or maybe you were just thirsty already, maybe you died from dehydration and your body remembers). In any case, you search for water. The underworld …

Sincere Mark-Making & Tradition with Nishiki Sugawara-Beda

Featured Image: An installation view of I’ll Be There at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts. Nishiki Sugawara-Beda’s “KuroKuroShiro Sacred Lot Four Seasons” hangs center frame. Four black and white paintings mounted using traditional Japanese practices. Image courtesy of Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts. As an artist who is deeply invested in my community, I have made long-lasting relationships with my fair share of creators by simply attending gallery openings, events, and art-related happenings. I have found that these settings make it quite easy to spark up a conversation with anyone in the room. In the Milwaukee art scene, Midwestern folks are more than willing to crack open a cold PBR in a garage gallery with a complete stranger and talk about local headlines. One can make fast friends this way. It’s unfortunate that networking with artists has been added to the list of things that have been made difficult by the pandemic. While the art world certainly came up with some unique and productive solutions to hosting gallery openings over the past two …

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 …

Image: A view of "Dreamscapes: Imaginings of a Black Pastoral" at Roots and Culture. Photo by Colectivo Multipolar. IG: @colectivomultipolar

The Black Pastoral, a landscape of abundance

Featured image: A view of “Dreamscapes: Imaginings of a Black Pastoral” at Roots and Culture. Two the left is a doorway covered in sheer green fabric that leads into a room with a video piece on display. The right side of the image shows a hallways leading to a larger room with additional artworks. Photo by Colectivo Multipolar. Entering the space of Roots & Culture on the opening night of Dreamscapes: Imaginings of a Black Pastoral, you are transported through a portal into the familiar realm of fellowship. For me, in the fellowship found in the hall of my childhood Baptist church, a gathering space designated for the communal unravel immediately following Sunday morning service, or in the fellowship found in the yearly ritual of my family reunion, a tradition of Black joy where familial cohesiveness can be restored, generational collectivism is centered and celebration is key. Aunties, grandmas, cousins you didn’t know you had, family friends and friends of friends all coalescing for one singular premise: communion. Walking through Dreamscapes: Imaginings of a Black …

Review: Just Above My Wall, (To The Right) at South Side Community Art Center

In the discussions of the art world, it’s often lost on us how deeply personal the act of viewing and acquiring art actually is. We’re dazzled by headlines featuring big names and nearly incomprehensible amounts of money. It obscures the reality that in its purest form, buying art is about beautifying our intimate spaces and private moments.

Image: Mehran Salari, "Untitled," 2017. Monoprint and pencil and pen, 40×40 cm. A black and white image that is largely abstract with a group of organic shapes. Image courtesy of Didaar Art Collective.

Space: Chapter One – A conversation with Didaar Art Collective

Featured image: Mehran Salari, Untitled, 2017. Monoprint and pencil and pen, 40×40 cm. A black and white image that is largely abstract with a group of organic shapes. Image courtesy of Didaar Art Collective. Last Spring, Didaar Art Collective, a cooperative group of Iranian artists based in Chicago, organized a group show titled Space: Chapter One at Oliva Gallery. The exhibition was on display from April 9 to May 8, 2021, and featured drawings and printmaking by twenty-nine emerging Iranian artists. Toward the end of the lockdown, I visited the exhibition. I was yearning for a moment of reflection on the intricacies of our spatial bound beyond the insipid private experience in front of my laptop screen. This was an experience that I had greatly missed, and the exhibition, beyond its visualizations of space and possibilities, was uniquely positioned to give insight into the ongoing contested-over space in Iran.  It was refreshing to see how these artists work around the difficulties of the current moment while standing their ground during a time of mass oppression, …

Featured image: "007" SHAN Wallace, 30 x 24 x 1.75 inches (framed in black) (76.2 x 61 x 4.45 cm) 30 x 24 inches (unframed) (76.2 x 61 cm), 2020. A black and white showing a group of people dancing. Courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary.

wont you celebrate with me: Erin LeAnn Mitchell & Shan Wallace in Conversation

Featured image: 007, Shan Wallace, 30 x 24 x 1.75 inches (framed in black) (76.2 x 61 x 4.45 cm) 30 x 24 inches (unframed) (76.2 x 61 cm), 2020. A black and white showing a group of people dancing. Courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary. The words “won’t you celebrate with me“—the title of Erin LeAnn Mitchell and Shan Wallace’s duo exhibition at FLXST Contemporary in Chicago—comes from the title of a poem from acclaimed Black poet Lucille Clifton. In the poem, Clifton declares for a celebration of her shapeshifting, of her molding, and of her becoming simply true to all of the multitudes that live within and through her. Clifton points to the challenges and obstacles that she’s faced and understands that the world may want to take her tenderness and joy away, but she crafts her own worlds where she is undoubtedly celebrated, uplifted, and loved for her triumphs everyday. In their two-person exhibition, artists Mitchell and Wallace continue this declaration of jubilee, pointing to a Black femme supremacy that complicates …

Six wooden frames are each filled with pieces of broken clay in different configurations; the voids have equal visual importance and presence. Gunjan Kumar, Broken Whole, 2021. Clay. Photo Credit: Jonathan Castillo, Courtesy of South Asia Institute.

More in Common, a review of The Sindhu Project: Enigma of Roots

Who could have imagined that a casual conversation in Chicago in 2016 between Mahwish Chisty, an American-based artist from Pakistan, and Gunjan Kumar, an American-based artist from India, would result in the compelling exhibition currently on view at South Asia Institute? During their chat, the artists discovered that their family homes were only four hours apart. But, in an interview with the artist Chisty notes, “Due to the tense political relations between India and Pakistan, we could not have met if we lived in our respective countries, even though we share the culture, traditions, and Punjabi language.” Their conversation and the realization that despite the political situation, they had more things in common than divided them became the genesis for The Sindhu Project: Enigma of Roots. The project focuses on the archaeological sites and artifacts in the Sindhu (Indus) watershed, a region stretching across northwest India and much of Pakistan. This underpinning in specific place ties into the processes both artists use—digging, rubbing, engraving—which mimics archeological ones. All the pieces were created specifically for the …

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 …

Sweet Bitter Love: Interview with Jeffrey Gibson

Sweet Bitter Love, presenting artist Jeffrey Gibson’s reflections on representations of Indigenous peoples in cultural institutions, is now on display at the Newberry Library through September 18, 2021.  Responding to a series of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century portraits by Eldridge Ayer Burbank in the Newberry collection, Gibson (a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent) refutes the stereotypical imagery that has reinforced pernicious myths about Indigenous people for centuries. As he enters into critical dialogue with the collections of the Newberry and also the Field Museum, Gibson’s works attest to the resilience of Indigenous cultures. The exhibition is part of Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, which is organized by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with exhibition, programmatic, and research partners across Chicago. Analú López (Guachichil/Xi´úi), Ayer Indigenous Studies Librarian at the Newberry, recently spoke with Gibson about his evolution as an artist, the challenges of presenting the complexity of the past through art, and how his work might surface silenced …

Image: Don't Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together by Thornton Dial. A large, mixed-media piece that looks like a tattered American Flag. © Estate of Thornton Dial. Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/

Black Artists Deserve Better: Thornton Dial at the IMA

Regarding the state of Indiana, I would say that it benefits from the perception crafted in our history classes that racism only exists in the south, and the northern states have always been a bastion of acceptance. Let me disabuse you of that belief. I went to college in Muncie, Indiana, where one of my professors quipped that Indiana is “the northernmost southern state.” In 1843, famous abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass gave a speech in Pendleton, Indiana and was nearly bludgeoned to death by a white mob of anti-abolitionists. Additionally, Indiana has historically been a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity, (a fact that was shared with me repeatedly, almost gleefully during the time I lived there) and Confederate flags are the norm. Anecdotally I’ve seen them on car bumpers, proudly displayed on front porches, sewn onto jackets as patches, and on the wall of a frat house, just to name a few. All of this matters because The Davis Lab at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) at Newfields is currently hosting an …

Review: 36° 15’ 43” N 29° 59’ 14” E at Goldfinch Gallery

Texture as memory, as language, as impression of thought and purpose; this is what is brought forth onto and within the imprints on the surface of objects made by SaraNoa Mark. Tactile and intricate, the artist’s mark making oftentimes reads like indecipherable words, while other times appears as imagery unfolding within the cracks of the surface, much like a relief. These carved and etched lines are akin to the marks made in drawing, which is at the heart of the artist’s practice. “Drawing is the lens through which I experience the world,” says Mark. “I view the earth, itself, as a drawing — continuously drafted by environmental and human gestures.”  Earthy and mineral-esque, Mark’s objects appear as solid as a rock and as precious as a relic. Manifesting their pieces from carved ceramic, clay, and stone, the artist has chosen a monochromatic palette that accentuates their mark making. With difference in color out of the way, the rich, lush texture is left bare for us to examine and search, so dense and palpable that I can almost physically …