All posts filed under: Featured

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 …

An abstract image made from varying colored tissue papers. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel.

October Art Picks

Featured Image: An abstract image made from varying colored tissue papers. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel. If you’ve followed us for a while, you know that our Art Picks offer a wide scope of events that are relevant to our audiences because we and the artists, cultural workers, curators, spaces, and projects we support live full lives that know no boundaries. We maintain expansive practices and work toward justice for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities in Chicago and the Midwest.   Created in collaboration with The Visualist, Chicago’s leading visual arts calendar. Click here to get our Art Picks and latest articles delivered to your inbox monthly. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. This month, the first Chicago Arts Census will be initiated. The Chicago Arts Census is the first comprehensive, cross-discipline data collection effort in the city created by and with the art workers of Chicago. The Census is a collaboration between ACRE and Annas in partnership with Sixty Inches From Center, DataMade, and C.A.M.P. The Census is built to amplify our voices …

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 …

Review: Ronald Young’s The Prevalence of Ritual

Featured Image: Foreground (R to L): “Gatekeeper” and “(Wake Up Every Morning)”; Midground: “A House Divided;” Background: Inkjet Print. Courtesy of The Kranzberg Arts Foundation. “The objects of art jabbed the viewer low in the abdomen, squeezed his heart, pricked his mind. It communicated with those blind to its artistic excellence, as well as with those who saw.” Noah Purifoy, Junk Art: 66 Signs of Neon The twenty or so impassioned sculptures in Ronald Young’s solo exhibition The Prevalence of Ritual—on view for the summer season at The Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery in St. Louis, where Young lives and works—crack and heave with the blight of the city that birthed them. Invariably, their intensity is arresting, and mostly it’s to good artistic effect. Six large inkjet prints of gutted brick buildings, which hang along the gallery’s perimeter, provide clear context. In one of these photos, the contour of a halved and roofless structure cuts a seizing figure against the sky’s subtler ground. In another, the grain of an old door marbles nicely behind its firm …

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 …

Lion Cages and Lilac Fields: From Chicago Stages to Basements, Art, Work, and Other Pandemic Songs

Featured Image: Jyreika Guest (left) performing in a music video for the livestreamed theater production grelley. Guest stands on a crate and gestures toward the video camera, surrounded by lighting equipment and a basic set design. At right are crew members (L-R) Eon Mora, Kevin Veselka, and Glamhag. In the background another actor checks their outfit in a mirror. Filmed in Chicago, May 2021. Photo by Sarah Elizabeth Larson. This is the first in a series of articles made in collaboration with the Chicago Arts Census to explore the living, labor, and material realities of art workers in the city of Chicago. To learn more about the Census, how to get involved, or how to take the survey, please visit: https://chicagoartscensus.com/ To get to the Internal Call Center you have to enter the museum’s loading dock, head down endless hallways of windowed offices—the home of Curatorial, Education, the Director, the President (a.k.a. the people who neither know nor want to know you exist)—hop down two or three flights of stairs, and weave through the maze …

An abstract image of green, yellow, and red triangles overlapping on a black background. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel.

September Art Picks

Featured image: An abstract image of green, yellow, and red triangles overlapping on a black background. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel. If you’ve followed us for a while, you know that our Art Picks offer a wide scope of events that are relevant to our audiences because we and the artists, cultural workers, curators, spaces, and projects we support live full lives that know no boundaries. We maintain expansive practices and work toward justice for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities in Chicago and the Midwest.   Created in collaboration with The Visualist, Chicago’s leading visual arts calendar. Click here to get our Art Picks and latest articles delivered to your inbox monthly. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Through September 4, 2021Jovan C. Speller: EulogyAspect/Ratio Projects: 864 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, ILFree Through September 4, 2021Whitney Bradshaw: OUTCRYMcCormick Gallery: 835 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, ILFree Through September 4, 2021Charly Palmer: On the Shoulders of ManyPortrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art: Historic Third Ward 207 E. Buffalo St. Ste. 526, Milwaukee, WIFree Through September …

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.

FOLD/UNFOLD: Interview with Sam Fissell

Featured image: Sam Fissell is in a backwards crouching position on the floor with his back to the viewer. He is wearing tan trousers, a white tank top, and white shoes with a white cloth tied around the ankle. Photo by Ryan Edmund Thiel. FOLD/UNFOLD: fashion designers and artists on dress, tactics, community, and power in zhegagoynak/zhigaagoong (Chicago) and beyond. Sam Fissell’s light-washed apartment is sparse, modular, and neat. As a fashion designer, he has made the space feel ready for anything. Fissell’s approach gives a mix of precision and unpredictable intensity –  someone who gets things done, but who also wildly trusts collaborators and leans into the unknown. Talking to and witnessing Fissell, you can feel his commitment to process over product and to the relationships and inheritances that make fashion matter to begin with. Care emanates from him as he picks minute pieces of dust off a garment we’re documenting from his most recent collection, crossing his legs to showcase the white leather boots his friend made for the collection. He holds that …

Conspicuous Consumption: A Pop-Up Summer

Featured image: Jarrett Ellis, founder of hoopdreamstudios, in a pop-up at Congruent Space. Ellis is crouching down on a basketball court design that says “HOOP DREAM”. Photo by Dally Dew Drop. It’s late July in Chicago. Summer solstice has long since passed, the mask mandate has seemingly dissolved, and the in-person event has risen again from the ashes of lockdown. In a sudden lurch, a fantastical standard has been set: people with access and ability to be out and about will be out and about. Experiences will be had, and they will be exciting and valuable and make up for all the “lost” time of the pandemic. (Nevermind that the pandemic isn’t, indeed, “over,” or that “lockdown” never ends for people inside prison walls or otherwise forcibly disposed into ever-proliferating forms of criminalized life). This particular historical moment is being positioned by retailers and other state agents as an “out of the shadows and into the light” moment that celebrates an ostensible “return to normal” — an “after” crisis that urges people to exhale and …

Snapshot: Sculpture Milwaukee

We hope this exhibition serves as a reminder of the resilience of art in a social context. Over the last year and a half, through the conditions of a global shutdown and time marked by a renewed social justice movement and chapters of political turmoil, sculpture remained in the streets. Public art has the unique pleasure of being available to everyone, all of the time.

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, …

Not Confession, But Investigation: Jubilee Turns Over Joy’s Hidden Corners

Featured image: A portrait of Michelle Zauner by Peter Ash Lee. Zauner is facing the camera holding a persimmon. She has her hair in a braid and wears yellow and orange make up. Persimmons hang by strings around her. “Audiences want confessional bits from rock icons,” reflected music critic Jessica Hopper in a 2011 review of St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy, “and expect them from female singer-songwriters.”  Anyone familiar with the contemporary indie-rock scene would agree that Hopper’s diagnosis has only grown more accurate over the past few years. In a 2018 album review, the New York Times’ Jon Pareles noted that “Soccer Mommy joins a wavelet of young women—along with Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski and many others—who [write] songs that probe vulnerability and trauma, self-sabotage and self-preservation.” That same year, the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino declared something similar: “I’m thinking of Mitski, Waxahatchee, Jay Som: women who […] explore everyday longing and disappointment in their lyrics, and cradle their songs in wryness and sincerity and guitars.” Digging through album reviews of female indie rock …

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 …

FOLD/UNFOLD: Interview with Madeline Hampton

FOLD/UNFOLD: fashion designers and artists on dress, tactics, community, and power in zhegagoynak/zhigaagoong (Chicago) and beyond. When you first walk into fashion photographer Madeline Hampton’s apartment/studio, the number “27” painted on the entrance wall in chaotic white strokes doesn’t assert itself as separate from the overall industrial aesthetic of the space. It takes time to notice that this is a signal that Hampton, also known as “27,” lives and works here. It’s an uncanny and highly personal visual that feels appropriate for an artist who based a recent shoot around Yves Tumor’s feeling of licking an orchid.  Hampton makes cinematic fashion images that don’t so much attract you to double-tap, but instead compulse an ongoing encounter with the picture. Hampton’s power to interrupt the scroll culture of Instagram feels like a power coming from somewhere not quite here–an offering to feel otherwise through the medium of fashion photography. The colors hit somewhere in your jaw, the angles glimmer. It feels possible to be both here in the material body and moving in a dream dimension. …

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: “Body” Digital collage, risograph print by Whitney Humphreys. The piece shows an image of a woman with part of her face missing, revealing cyborg-like parts underneath. Underneath are various machine parts. The right side of the piece shows a robot arm and text that reads: "Robot brides that free themselves become a paradox: objects with agency". The piece is mostly pink, green, and tan. Image courtesy of the Internet Archive.

When Archival Bodies Collide: Rupturing Gender Through History

Artists have always relied on the archive and material history in their work, whether it be in the emulation of a specific style, the expression of a historical moment, or in a particular medium such as collage. The practice of exhuming images from archives necessarily carries these histories and styles along with it, no matter what the artist might attempt otherwise. But they can also refigure old art by placing it in conversation or contradiction with the new. Two artists, Whitney Humphreys and Sarah Tyschenko, are performing such insightful and disruptive reconfigurations with images of gendered bodies from the archive. I discovered San Francisco-based artist Whitney Humphreys’ zine series Gendered Machines a couple months ago, after I was browsing the Internet Archive—a free, digital library of websites and digital materials—looking for zines. I came upon her series, a collaboration with the Internet Archive and Tiny Splendor Press, and requested a copy of each zine, not thinking much about it until they arrived a few weeks later in all their risograph beauty. Humphreys told me she …

An abstract image made from red, orange, and yellow tissue papers fading into each other in a vertical striped pattern.

August Art Picks

If you’ve followed us for a while, you know that our Art Picks offer a wide scope of events that are relevant to our audiences because we and the artists, cultural workers, curators, spaces, and projects we support live full lives that know no boundaries. We maintain expansive practices and work toward justice for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities in Chicago and the Midwest.   Created in collaboration with The Visualist, Chicago’s leading visual arts calendar. Click here to get our Art Picks and latest articles delivered to your inbox monthly. Featured image: An abstract image made from red, orange, and yellow tissue papers fading into each other in a vertical striped pattern. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Through August 1, 2021Ambientes: Places After TimeHeaven Gallery: 1550 N Milwaukee Ave, Floor 2, Chicago, ILFree Through August 1, 2021Cabin Fever: Wild Ideas from a Regrettable YearReal Tinsel: 1013 West Historic Mitchell Street, Milwaukee, WIFree Through August 1, 2021Making Our Space: Members of the Peoria Guild of Black ArtistsUniversity …

Tim Klein: Instances That Might Go Unseen

A native of Tacoma, Washington, Tim Klein’s interest in photography began at an early age. He bought his first camera, with money his family provided for meals on the road, in 7th grade while on a trip to Germany with his gymnastics group.  Klein was always creative and found the camera to be the perfect tool for his skillset as an observer. It was a natural fit to document found moments and scenes that are interesting in composition and context. He describes his relationship with photography as letting his instinct drive his creativity. By the time he enrolled at Western Washington University, he had developed his skill set as a photojournalist, working on his high school newspaper and local paper.  While in college Klein freelanced for Reuters and the New York Times. While working for Reuters, he covered a presidential briefing in the White House. Upon graduating, Klein was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award for Journalism. Real-life relationships and circumstances are depicted as soft, vulnerable, and human, where rituals and shared experiences of mundane life …