All posts filed under: Exhibitions

Installation view of Men of Change. The installation made of metal poles is in the middle of the room. Light boxes of various sizes featuring photos and text are hung on the metal poles. A large display box in front of the installation features a poster that reads STORYTELLERS. Along the walls of the room are paintings and other artworks, most of which are obscured by the metal pole installation in the middle of the room. A woman stands in front of the light box installation, looking at the installation. Photo by Phil Armstrong. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Have you seen them? “Men of Change” at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

“Have you seen them? You see them. Bold. Powerful.         Tragic. Beautiful.                 And true. They are icons with warrior roots. They are trees of knowledge. Legends of the past, inspiration for the future, the fierce energy of now.” The introductory text to “Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.” paints a picture of what you can expect within the two rooms containing the ambitious exhibition. “Men of Change” highlights the accomplishments and legacies of black American men through text, photography, and artwork from twenty-five American artists. The changemakers — some long gone, many still alive — were paired with artists who made artwork related to, about, or honoring them.     The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES), and will travel to ten locations over the next three years. It debuted at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is on view until December 1, after which it will head to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, Washington. WeShouldDoItAll (WSDIA), a Brooklyn-based design studio responsible for the “Making A …

The Last Cruze: LaToya Ruby Frazier at the Renaissance Society

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, stated at the October 2018 CityLab Detroit Leaders Conference that she hoped to shift public perception of GM from that of an automobile manufacturer to a technology company before her retirement. Barra’s comment hinted at a desire to not only change the driving ethos of GM production but to also transform the configuration of GM’s workforce: imagine a future akin to Tesla’s automated assembly line, their factories quiet save for the AI programmed to build their “tech.” The wish to associate GM with an encroaching technocratic future reflects how labor, capital, and the management of these two components of late capitalism have shifted within the neoliberal paradigm. The dialogue of labor is rapidly changing. Rather than centering the conversation on workers, the question is now how production is managed, diffused and parceled out: human lives become human capital. This message casts a long shadow over the recent United Autoworkers Union deal with GM, ratified on Nov 4th, 2019. UAW members were on strike for six weeks, the longest …

Image: Installation view of "Dark Matter: Celestial Objects as Messengers of Love in These Troubled Times" by Folayemi Wilson. Catwalk with rotating NASA videos of the sun and moon. Photo by Michael Sullivan.

Space is a Place: Folayemi Wilson at the Hyde Park Art Center

There’s this thing that happens sometimes when I close my eyes and focus on nothing. It’s not like the after-image that you often get when looking at an object for a long time, but something else entirely. I see daubs of light, tiny flecks of indiscernible colors that move and dance in the darkness. And frequently, there is an actual place, a room that has no apparent walls, but feels like I’m somewhere else than where I really am–an astral projection of a space for safety and reflection. This place, I believe, was made manifest when I entered the main gallery this summer at the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) to view Folayemi Wilson’s latest work Dark Matter: Celestial Objects as Messengers of Love in These Troubled Times. I met Fo late last year during my stint in the Teaching Artist’s studio of HPAC. I had worked there since September 2016, and was encouraged to apply to be a resident. A couple months later, I was sharing the space with another teaching artist. Now, mind …

7 Reflections & Suggested Sounds: ALL WE WANT IS TO SEE OURSELVES at FLXST Contemporary

The following are reflections and suggested sounds for pieces by seven artists that were included in the exhibition ALL WE WANT IS TO SEE OURSELVES at FLXST Contemporary. The exhibition ran from August 3 – September 1, 2019 and was curated by Jan Christian Bernabe Paolo Arao, Greater Than (Diptych), 2018 Greater Than (Diptych) splits into two canvases hung like diamonds, each one broken down by the same primary colors: blue, red, yellow, and beige cotton. On the left canvas, the corners each have a perfect triangle of either blue, red, or yellow while in the center lies a perfect beige square. On the right, the same color pattern is inverted: four beige corners and a square divided into four slices of elementary colors. Once you know the title, it all falls into place and the geometry, the hidden mathematics of artifice, begin to open themselves up. An elementary school teacher taught me that the greater-than sign could be remembered because the alligator (> or <) eats the bigger number (the better number?) and here, …

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 …

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 …

What’s Your Logo, Virgil Abloh?

Virgil Abloh, street-forward renegade of high fashion and luxury art, speaks the trickster tongue of logos. Logos are his language, the figures of speech invoked in the title of his survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. If we are to understand logos as figures of speech, then we must trace their messaging on our bodies. We are subjected to logos more or less 24/7, but are we the subject of logos? Do logos express our subjectivity? Is there space for authenticity within logo culture? Abloh remixes and samples revered logos from Nike Air to Vuitton, unmaking in order to expose their conceptual significations and limitations, especially in relation to race.  “I want to read an existential essay on logo and art,” Abloh declared at the press preview Q & A.  +++ Logos ( λόγος) has a long history in philosophy and theory of rhetoric. In a discussion of speech versus writing, Plato contrasted logos, or what is said, with lexis (λέξις), or how it is being said, creating a binary of content and …

Featured Image: Andre Keichian, 'Salt in the I' (detail), 2019. View of negatives from Keichian's family photo album adhered to a glass window as part of the exhibition installation at table. Photo by Kim Becker. Image courtesy of Kyle Bellucci Johanson.

New Political Imaginaries at the table: Interview with Kyle Bellucci Johanson

In a 2017 interview for the Brooklyn Rail, poet, critic, and theorist, Fred Moten said: “Everything always needs new language. We constantly have to renew the language of any mode of inquiry. Some of the tools for that are in art history and some are in other places. If you’ve really got to do something, and it’s really important, you don’t give a shit where the tools come from. You get the tools wherever you can find them and then you deal with the consequences that attend those tools as you work with them. You don’t reject tools out of hand just because they come from this or that place. To me, that means you aren’t serious about getting the job done—you’re serious about something else, maybe about some bullshit notion of purity, but you’re not serious about getting the job done.”  This statement reverberates through table, a temporary project space organized by Kyle Bellucci Johanson, who has turned to building coalition through initiating critical discussions of contemporary art in the dining room of his …

Image: Alejandro Jiménez-Flores, una noche maravillosa —a wonderful night, 2019, soft-pastels, flower petals dyes, and plaster on muslin, 9x11 in. Photo courtesy of Apparatus Projects.

Alejandro Jiménez-Flores: Always Touches on a Flower

Earlier this year, the two-person show Always Touches on a Flower at Apparatus Projects (February 17 – March 24, 2019) featured the work of Alejandro Jimenez-Flores and Cathy Hsiao. Enveloped in the themes of flowers and language, Jimenez-Flores’s work created an intimate and beautiful space at Apparatus Projects. Their work of soft floral transfers and paintings deal with themes of memory and plays with the language of flowers, both in Spanish and English. Pulling from personal memories, poetry, time traveling, and everyday experiences, Jimenez-Flores’s work is not to be missed.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Cecilia Kearney: Let’s start with some background, tell me a little bit about yourself.  Alejandro Jiménez-Flores: I’ve been an artist since high school. I mean, I always doodled and sketched growing up, but when I went to high school I took photography classes after school. And then I was an arts major. For undergrad, I went to UIC. I majored in Studio Arts (drawing and painting), but I was kind of all over the place–I was …

A view of the Archive of Touch exhibition at Goldfinch Gallery from the entrance of the room. Photo by Daniel Hojnacki.

Review: Processing An Archive of Touch at Goldfinch Gallery

“To persist at an encounter with the poor little world is the work of the artist. A test, and I think we do it for each other. To enact a critical metaphysics out of love, to ask and play and choke and fail, to posit small actions as consequential, emphatic, necessary, to insist on painting as an archive of touch, is hopeful, is hungry. My community exceeds me, the gift somehow never leaves my hands.” – Dana DeGiulio The creative act for the artist lends gravity to small actions, as motions and brush strokes become big decisions. In the group exhibition “An Archive of Touch,” each artist reconsidered their decisions through the lens of the titular concept, creating as a process of archiving touch. The output: documents of acrylics, carved clays, oils, stoneware, yarn; histories of relationships with objects, others, and themselves. Residing in East Garfield Park at Goldfinch Gallery through August 3, “An Archive of Touch” is comprised of works by Yesenia Bello, Dana DeGiulio, Andreas Fischer, Alejandro Jiménez-Flores, Joyce Lung, SaraNoa Mark, and …

In Conversation with Cheryl Pope

I first encountered Chicago-based artist Cheryl Pope through her recent installation at Monique Meloche Gallery. I was immediately drawn to the intimacy in her work, combined with the texture of the wool that allowed a softness to the vulnerability of her interracial figures. Pope’s work encompasses many mediums including sculpture and performance. The underlying subjects in her work of identity with respect to race and gender stuck a chord in me. While our perception of ourselves is ever changing, there are certain characteristics that influence our identity. Pope excels at provoking the viewer to question their sense of identity.  Caira: How would you describe your practice? What are the key themes you are exploring in your work? Cheryl: [The] key themes in my work are elevating vulnerability, challenging positions and uses of power, and celebrating equality.  Caira: Your latest show at Monique Meloche explores the bodies of an interracial couple, along with that you present these forms in a sensual depiction. How does this body of work speak you your practice of identity and race. …

Image: Kahlil Robert Irving, MOBILE STRUCTURE; RELIEF & Memorial: (Monument Prototype for a Mass); 2019. Sculptural Installation. Photo by Shabez Jamal.

From Punk Clubs to Panaderías: Counterpublic, An Embedded Triennial

In an era hypersaturated with recurring exhibitions – from Shanghai to Sharjah, Havana to Venice – a new St. Louis triennial urges artgoers to forgo the touristic water taxis for their own two feet. Organized by The Luminary, a St. Louis-based nonprofit platform for art and activism, Counterpublic reinvigorates global precedents with a model that approaches the city on the scale of a neighborhood. Its inaugural iteration takes place in the 12-block radius of Cherokee Street, a neighborhood of family-operated businesses and art spaces that serves as the Latinx center of St. Louis. Any of the 30+ site-responsive installations and performances greet equal parts neighbors carrying grocery bags and cognoscenti clutching the newspapers that serve as maps to make the pilgrimage. Artworks are ingrained in punk clubs and panaderías, indicated subtly by small yellow signs. The exhibition evolves at various levels of sunlight and sobriety – it features a John Riepenhoff-created beer at Earthworks brewery –as Counterpublic’s hours are set by the shops themselves. On the street, none of the artwork is particularly protected; this …

Arranging, Abstracting, and Transforming at Experimental Sound Studio

Entering Without Within at Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) in Ravenswood, you encounter a variety of sculptural objects comprised of glazed ceramic, cuts of wood, and metal panels made by multidisciplinary artist Mie Kongo. The pieces, an amalgamation of these natural materials, are combined so carefully and intentionally as they emanate a calm confidence. One piece features an amoeba-like, white structure that exists on top of a tree log that’s been cleanly chopped on top and bottom. Two rectangle tiles grow out of the amoeba and a small metal panel cleanly sits atop all of this chaos.  Surrounding this visual experience is the subtle influx of sound that oscillates between somewhat recognizable and minimal industrial sounds to more complex abstractions, created by sound artist Norman Long. This sort of arranging, abstracting, and transforming lies at the heart of the exhibition, curated by Ruth Hodgkins, the current Bentson Archivist and Assistant Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Throughout the exhibition, both artists take inspiration from the world around them but choose to adjust, amend, and …

Image: Elliot stands under scaffolding along a brick building, with the street to the right. One hand holds onto a post on the scaffolding, and he's leaning out to the left towards the frame. Photo is in black and white. Photo by Ryan Edmund.

The Art of Adaptation: An Exit Interview with Elliot J. Reichert

In 2013, just days into his position as the Assistant Curator of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Elliot J. Reichert was doing what curators often do. After being thrown into the installation process of a new exhibition, he was flexing his ability to fuel wildfires while demonstrating his resourcefulness in locating unusual materials at the very last minute in service of an artist’s vision. In this case, the artist was the late musician and sculptor Terry Adkins and the wildfires were the brand new works that had been sitting on the back shelf of Adkins’ mind for years that he now had the opportunity to bring to life. When Elliot took this role, the museum was preparing to mount Recital, a substantial solo exhibition of Adkins’ work which had traveled from the Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York to Chicago. When Recital was being mounted, there was no way of knowing that this mid-career retrospective would, in fact, be a definitive moment in Adkins’ career and would also be marked …

The Law of Attraction: Katie Bell at University Galleries

A nexus of energy has coalesced in the corner of Illinois State’s University Galleries, pulling objects and people alike to its epicenter. Brooklyn-based artist, Katie Bell’s site-specific installation is a symphony of found materials. Planks of wood and sheets of foam board are layered on the walls over large swaths of pastel paint. A pillar leans like a toppled monument. A strip of rubber baseboard stretches over the concrete floor, drapes across the wall, and curls back onto the floor. A wooden rod pierces a stack of pink paper. Cuts of curved faux-marble seem to melt as though lifted from a surrealist’s canvas—a Kay Sage painting breaking through the picture plane. In her animated yet understated play of line and geometric form, Bell also seems to borrow compositional cues from the suprematists. And if the energetic compositions and muted color palette of Standing Arrangement are the embodiment of what Malevich championed as a “pure artistic feeling,” then it is one of dreamlike ecstasy. Laced throughout the room are moments of suspension, the climax just after …

Swarm To This Chicago Art Residency’s First Public Showcase

Swarm Artist Residency is not just a creative community—it is an apiary. Like a bee farm, Swarm pollinates individual artist practices and cultivates a one-of-a-kind community. Swarm started in 2015 with the intention of creating a safe, inclusive communal space to nurture underrepresented artists’ practices. Each July, Chicago artists and healing practitioners get out of the city to gather on a farm out of state for a low-cost or fully-sponsored residency. Artists nourish in each other’s co-presence in community workshops, shared meals, and healing circles. Away from the city’s noise, new ideas buzz.   Four years into the experiment, Swarm is putting on its first public exhibition in the city. Its showcase of current and former artists in residence is timed for the summer solstice: Friday, June 21, 7:30-10:30pm, at Logan Square’s FDC Studios. In addition to giving the public a chance to engage with Swarm’s art and communal energy away from the retreat space, the exhibition fundraiser will also help cover 2019 residency costs for accepted artists. I talked to two of Swarm’s Queen …

Image: Installation shot of Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well, 2019. © Gregg Bordowitz. Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Analog Love: Synching Up In the Time of Queerness

“Queer life and love in the 1980s was cruelly characterized by the knowledge that time was running out.” —Joshua Chambers Letson, After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life What if queerness is not out of time? What if it is in fact deeply entangled in time, intimate with its intricate loops, its swells, its passing lulls? Consider the clock to be a geography of relation. To declare queer not out of time but in fact enmeshed with time is to dance towards becoming synchronous against the odds. Attuning across long distances, linking despite (or perhaps because of) grief. To fall in time is to fall into a love unrequited: time cannot love you back, cannot nurse your wounds, cannot even promise you company. Time is out to kill, racing against us. Even yet—we rush to its side, seeking its alliance at a lover’s deathbed or amidst the off-hours communion of the dance floor. + Lately I’ve been dancing with archives. Everything touches up with everything: I am experiencing what seems a surreal …

Framing the Body: A Critical Look at Witkin’s Photographic Legacy

“Brilliant and divisive,” those were the words Catherine Edelman, gallery owner and panel moderator, used to describe acclaimed photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. The latest exhibition at Catherine Edelman Gallery, Joel-Peter Witkin: From the Studio, features more than 25 photographs, 80 drawings, as well as sketchbooks and journals, darkroom tools and cameras, letters, and contact sheets. But it was Witkins mission, “to create photographs that show the beauty of marginalized people,” and how he executes that aim was the primary topic of discussion for the ‘Otherness & Beauty’ panel hosted by the gallery on June 1. The panel included painter, writer and disability activist Riva Lehrer, art therapist Deb DelSignore, and art historian Mark B. Pohlad. Witkin, an American artist based in Albuquerque, photographs his subjects in carefully crafted settings and utilizes manual darkroom techniques to produce surreal images. The subjects are often “intersex, post and pre-op individuals, and people born with physical abnormalities.” Lehrer makes artwork depicting similar marginalized people, with one very important difference—she is a portrait artist. Lehrer works collaboratively with her subjects to …

Abundant & Diverse: An Overview of Visual Arts at Riverwest FemFest

Since 2015, Milwaukee’s Riverwest FemFest has become a popular and important festival within the city’s creative community, one that supports artists and musicians across multiple venues through concerts, performances, exhibitions, and workshops. As a platform for femme, gender non-conforming, non-binary, trans, POC, and womyn creators, FemFest acts as a fundraiser for various non-profits and donates all proceeds from the week-long event to local organizations that support womyn, LGBTQIA+ individuals, families, and marginalized groups in the city. The festival ran from May 26 – June 2 and this year, all proceeds were donated to Milwaukee Women’s Center, an organization that provides services to people who have been affected by domestic violence, addiction, mental health issues, homelessness, and poverty, and Diverse & Resilient, a non-profit organization that supports LGBTQ+ individuals through programs that encourage sexual health, build leadership skills and confidence, and provide anti-violence initiatives and support for substance abuse. Since its inception, FemFest has grown in size, concept, and location and now extends into neighborhoods beyond just the Riverwest community in Milwaukee, where it first got its …

Illustration by Tesh Silver.

Magic and Art: Celebrating the New Moon in Taurus

After a careful shuffle and posing a question out loud, the first card I pull is the Eight of Swords, showing sharp, dark purple criss-crossed sabers with the word “Interference” ominously written across the bottom. The second card I pull is the Prince of Swords, on it, a green tyrannical figure rides a chariot while holding the reins of three smaller figures, who are seemingly prisoners and propel the chariot forward. The Knight of Wands is next, featuring a figure in chainmail armor on a rearing horse in front of a glaring pyramid of flames. Upon first glance as a tarot novice, none of this is making me feel at ease. My card reader goes on to explain in depth what each card and its orientation in the spread could potentially mean for me, and I begin to understand that the iconography of each card may not be a literal representation of what’s going on in my life (much to my relief, as I was definitely concerned about the pyramid of flames in that last …

Image: Untitled, 2018. Graphite on paper, 30" X 40". Photo by Jasmine Clark. Image courtesy of the artist.

Seeing Signs: An Interview with Carris Adams

At least a year before the opening of her newest show, I met Carris Adams in her capacity as an arts administrator. Adams works as the General Manager of Chicago Art Department, an organization that provides space, support, and opportunities for artists. As the first Core Critical Writing Fellow at CAD, I got to see Adams regularly organize a stream of events and exhibits but all the fellows, myself included, also knew about Adams’ work as a visual artist. Her work has been exhibited in various spaces in Chicago, Texas, and New York, including The Studio Museum of Harlem. We took a moment to meet near CAD and her studio at La Catrina Café to talk about her upcoming show. Carris Adams’ solo exhibition Doubletalk is her first exhibition with Chicago’s Goldfinch Gallery. The exhibition will be on view from the opening reception on Saturday, May 11 until Saturday, June 22, and a conversation between Carris Adams and Jinn Bronwen-Lee will take place on June 8, 2 p.m. Adams’ drawings create pressures and textures with …

Intimate Justice: Andrew Bearnot

“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, I looked at Andrew Bearnot’s exhibition at the Leather Archives + Museum, “FRUITING BODIES” and had a Q+A interview in his Hyde Park apartment. There is no denying how special the Leather Archives + Museum is to the Chicago queer community. With vests, sex toys, photographs, and original artwork on display, queer history (though mostly male-orientated) is exhibited through kinks and specific sub-groups. Signifiers like patches, buttons, pins, and labels illustrate the profound LGBTQ community across the country. Small rooms, narrow hallways, and personal items make up the intimate space in Rogers Park. Andrew Bearnot’s exhibition FRUITING BODIES shares this same intimacy, as you must walk down a narrow staircase into a gallery that, although small, exhibits a wide range of objects. The exhibition includes works of glass and paper by Bearnot as well as objects chosen from the collections of Robert Gaylord, Jim …

Image: Video still from Hương Ngô's, In the Shadow of the Future, 2014-19. Still shows someone dressed up in a cosmonaut outfit standing in the foreground next to a large white geometric structure. In the background is a building with plants dangling out the windows, with architecture in a similar triangular style as the white structure as well as Hương's central installation. It is a sunny day out in the photo. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the Shadow of the Future: Interview with Hương Ngô

The colorful folded paper triangle takeaways prepared by Hương Ngô’s for her current exhibition “In the Shadow of the Future” open up to describe a narrative about Vietnamese fighter pilot Phạm Tuân heading to space under a Soviet program in 1979, the same year that thousands of people fled persecution in Vietnam to resettle in a suburb of Paris. Hương brings these two migration stories together under the same roof, connecting their journeys after 40 years of separation. In the center of the room at 4th Ward Project Space, is a bright architectural installation made of collided triangular forms. Some have windows, and others are closed off in their own corners and have gardens of greenery. Two video screens protrude from the top of the piece, tilted up to the sky, and another is ingrained into the building itself, posited inches from the ground. On the wall of the gallery is a newspaper article cast in concrete from the New York Times regarding Phạm’s mission with the text slightly deteriorated. The environment construed by Hương …

When Art Meets Design: An Overview of the All-City High School Visual Arts Exhibition

Walking into the CPS All-City High School Visual Arts Exhibition, guests are greeted with an electrifying blue color on parallel zigzag walls, playful typography, and an array of artwork by high schoolers throughout Chicago. With every turn, there’s an attention-grabbing piece of art or something to interact with. The team at the Design Museum of Chicago has built its reputation around creating memorable and rewarding experiences, with this exhibition inviting the city’s young artists to reap the benefits of its thoughtful execution. DCASE has brought together the CPS Department of Visual Arts and the Design Museum of Chicago to organize two exhibitions: the All-City High School Visual Arts Exhibition and the All-City Elementary School Visual Arts Exhibition. The collaboration has sparked an overwhelming excitement over the possibilities within both organizations. “Everyone was so excited, it was like the roof was going to blow off the building,” exclaimed Tanner Woodford, Founder and Executive Director of the Design Museum. Having a show that was inclusive and representative of as many types of students as possible was at …

Identity and Struggle: Interview with Sam Kirk

In Sam Kirk’s shared Pilsen studio at the Chicago Art Department, there are desks and a couple of small colorful portraits on the wall. They serve as a sharp contrast to the white walls accustomed to a flurry of monthly exhibits. One of the walls is a high partition that nearly hides the small but clearly busy space. The heavy table in the center of the work studio holds a work in progress that reverberates with the bright color choices and the distinct, curved lines that are a signature of Kirk’s style. However, each segment is glass cut then soldered into place by the dark lines that Kirk might normally reinforce with a smaller brush dipped in black paint, if she were working solely on canvas. Kirk’s work with glass has not only recently become part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of Mexican Art, but has become an identifiable style that she shares in public murals, exhibits, commissioned work, and even enamel pins and greeting cards. Her upcoming show “The Alchemy of …

#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 …