All posts filed under: Featured

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 …

Unreasoned Scores 2/6: Ellen Holtzblatt and Salim Moore

The following article is part of Unreasoned Scores, a series of six articles edited by Fabiola Tosi, Juelle Daley, and Stephanie Koch, the 2019-2020 HATCH Curatorial Residents with Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC). When social distancing posed a challenge to building community between the artist residents of the program, Daley, Koch, and Tosi created a structure for artists’ interviews which asked: How can we be isolated together?  Through a series of exercises, curators encouraged artists—paired together based on artistic practice, experience, and personalities—to connect through a series of interviews with one another. The goal was to foster a human-scale connection between artists, beyond the hyper-mediated space of online meetings. With this experimental editorial project, the curators seek to investigate “How does one archive ephemeral works which may not fit the formats of a traditional archival record?” Read Unreasoned Scores 1/6 featuring Katie Chung and José Santiago Pérez. Ellen Holtzblatt and Salim Moore, edited by Fabiola Tosi It is almost certain that each and every one of us during the past year felt a sense of deep isolation and suffered from a …

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 …

Featured image: Both sides of the image are filled with layers of graphite powder with that euphoric and turbulent energy being represented by the gestural marks in between those graphite margins. The left and right sides of the image are dark grey and the middle is red. Image by Damiane Nickles.

A Topography of Dreams: Collective Care

A trilogy of unfurlings and web castings of the makings towards a radical love practice. Isra Rene invites you to share your own ponderings, wonders, and unravelings of your own love practice, knowing that our collective experiences build a stronger net that supports our interconnected worldbuilding. This story has no beginning or end, it just appears to be happening now. I’d imagine it was always happening somewhere just within reach, on the margins, tethering at my attention. Maybe lying somewhere in the wake, or in the break; a glitch in my ecosystem with the most gentle effect. A story that disrupts and blurs that has pervaded in our current state of violence. This story is a dream of mine made true. A dream where we are loved, cared for, uplifted, and challenged. A dream coming into fruition through the labor of tender love and care created through kinships, loveships, and every affective connection. A dream made possible by rest and leisure. A dream not deferred. A dream guaranteed to be in flux but crafted intentionally …

An abstract illustration of fireworks created from different colored pieces of tissue paper. The sky in the background is black with deep shades of blue and the fireworks are yellow, orange, green, and pink.

July 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 and adapted for social-distancing due to COVID-19, this list offers online exhibitions, streaming events, a list of online collections from Black and LGBTQIA+ archives, and other ways to spend time in the virtual space.  Featured image: An abstract illustration of fireworks made from different colored pieces of tissue paper. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Through July 2, 2021Lorena Cruz Santiago: Entre el maiz, lose chiles, y las floresACRE Projects at Drama Club: 2439 S Oakley Ave, Chicago, ILFree Through July 3, 2021Homemade, With Love: More Living RoomKrannert Art Museum: 500 East Peabody Dr., Champaign, ILFree …

Unreasoned Scores 1/6: Katie Chung and José Santiago Pérez

The following article is part of Unreasoned Scores, a series of six articles edited by Fabiola Tosi, Juelle Daley, and Stephanie Koch, the 2019-2020 HATCH Curatorial Residents with Chicago Artist’s Coalition (CAC). When social distancing posed a challenge to building community between the artist residents of the program, Daley, Koch, and Tosi created a structure for artists’ interviews which asked: How can we be isolated together?  Through a series of exercises, curators encouraged artists—paired together based on artistic practice, experience, and personalities—to connect through a series of interviews with one another. The goal was to foster a human-scale connection between artists, beyond the hyper-mediated space of online meetings. With this experimental editorial project, the curators seek to investigate “How does one archive ephemeral works which may not fit the formats of a traditional archival record?” Read part 2 of Unreasoned Scores featuring artists Ellen Holtzblatt and Salim Moore. Katie Chung and José Santiago Pérez, edited by Fabiola Tosi When meeting someone for the first time, maybe even after a few conversations, you would get to …

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 …