All posts filed under: Champaign-Urbana

Disrupting the system with Emmy Lingscheit

Emmy Lingscheit is a visual artist and Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lingscheit’s work can broadly be characterized by attention to detail: in formal qualities such as color selection, choice of text, and the intricacies of mark-making, but also in the choice of subject matter. Her work addresses the human condition by looking at the systems we create to govern our lives, calling into question the ways in which social and cultural justices are not compatible with such systems. She interrogates these systems, particularly environmental ones, to understand how the ways we “otherize” the natural world is directly related to the ways we “otherize” people, marking both as exploitable and disposable. One strategy Lingscheit employs is drawing the viewer in with technical savvy and grace; her work is gorgeous. The repetition of marks and imagery hypnotize the viewer so much so that looking at her work is analogous to the ways in which we are swept up in these systems. Though there is a sense of wanting to spend more time …

Featured Image: The marquee of The Art Theater in Champaign, Illinois reads “For Sale or Rent.” The Art Theater’s sign is red and retro. The brick building is located on a downtown street, with residential apartments above the theater. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Support for the Arts Supports Us All

Before I moved to Central Illinois, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about the ways arts and culture programs affect a community. Living in a mid-sized town/small city/micro-urban area for a little over a decade has changed the way I think about community and what it means to have access to those types of programs. Dynamic arts and culture programming signals that residents are engaged and active, that this is a place people should want to live. It signals that a municipality values its citizens, and is interested in helping create a community where a rich quality of life is revered. An engaged arts community celebrates and challenges its members and residents; it’s more than a collection of people making stuff or putting on performances. These programs indicate there is an infrastructure that supports community connection and potential for conversations about difficult subjects that can advocate for change. Active and critically engaged arts support systems within communities are vital to the growth and progress of small towns like Champaign-Urbana. In a diverse community like C-U, …

Featured Image: Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum stands in front of “Hive,” an large inflatable sculpture installed in the museum’s Kinkaid Pavillion. The sculpture is floor to ceiling and bright pink. The main body of the sculpture resembles a bunch of grapes, or a multi-breasted female body, and to the side there is fuschia colored a braid with a braided gold band around the end of the braid. Powell stands in the center of the image, looking into the camera and smiling. She is wearing a black dress, and her hands are in her pockets. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Building Community with Amy L. Powell

Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign houses quite a large and impressive collection of artwork, spanning centuries of human creativity. The museum’s collection is complimented by temporary exhibitions, ranging in themes (Painting and the Animation of History in Northern India), time periods (contemporary work by Allan deSouza), and topics (Swalihi Arts across the Indian Ocean). It’s an understated and underappreciated resource in East Central Illinois. I recently spoke with Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum (KAM). Powell has been in her position since the fall of 2014, and she’s mounted exhibitions of the work of Zina Saro-Wiwa, Autumn Knight, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, and Kennedy Browne. Powell is interested in photography, video, and knowledge production, but a quick look at her resume also reveals thematic interests in post colonialism, feminism, displacement, and disruption. Much of our conversation circled around the idea of connection. Powell seeks to make connections between artists, makers, and thinkers, and views the studio visit and the exhibition as platforms …

Image: Damian Duffy sits at a table in a brewery and works at a laptop computer. In front of his computer are paperback copies of Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Talents”, an advanced reader copy of his graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s “Parable of the Sower”, and an open notebook with sketches. An empty beer glass is set to the side. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Writing Comics We Want to Read: An Interview with Damian Duffy

If you’ve been paying any attention to pop culture lately, you’ve noticed that we’ve become enamored of comics and graphic novels. Like most media, the authors and subjects have been predominantly white, and it’s hard to remember that there are other stories being told. As comics become more mainstream, there’s an opportunity to expand the genre to feature different voices through authorship, artistry, and subjecthood. The inherent collaborative nature of comics—artist working with author, most simply—makes it ripe for bringing like-minded individuals together to manifest a story not yet pictured. This summer, I had a beer with comics author and artist Damian Duffy. Duffy is an Eisner-award winner (that’s the prestigious award handed out by Comic Con International in San Diego), and a New York Times bestselling author. With artist John Jennings, Duffy is the co-author of “Black Comix” and “Black Comix Returns” and the adapter and author of “Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation,” the first visualization of celebrated author Octavia Butler’s work. He’s also the adapter and author of the forthcoming graphic novel adaptations …

Captioned: An Interview with Liza Sylvestre

“The space of this film is expanding.” It is indeed. Liza Sylvestre, a recent graduate of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), captions 2001: A Space Odyssey on a perpendicular wall from Space is the Place, also captioned. These films roll with Sylvestre’s comments and captions coming with them for an interpretation of the two films. How do these two films operate in our culture? Who gets to access them?  This show at the new space, New Genres Art Space, in Rockford, Illinois, is developing programming around digital art, and its ability to be educational, therapeutic, and community-driven. The small gallery space has been used to the max with this exhibition, as these monumental films stretch floor to ceiling. There are captions that don’t match the films. Instead, they describe a separate narrative of the artist’s thoughts and experience watching the movies. I think these captions make the film more approachable highlighting the accessibility of the films.  This interview has been edited for clarity. Anthony Hamilton: Could you introduce us to your work and the Captioned …

Time, bodies, and objects: An Interview with Guen Montgomery

Champaign-Urbana is home to a multitude of artists and creative people. The visual arts community in C-U is one that can, broadly speaking, be divided into three groups: local artists with no institutional affiliation; faculty, staff, and students at Parkland College; and faculty, staff, and students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a whole, they generate a vibrant intellectual and creative energy not often found in other similarly sized cities. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s School of Art + Design has nationally and internationally recognized faculty working in all media, but there aren’t very many opportunities to spend time with faculty artwork here in C-U. As faculty at a research-focused institution, they regularly have successes at the national and international levels. The combination of only a handful of exhibition spaces in C-U, and the university’s encouragement for non-local exhibitions and lectures, makes it common to know someone fairly well but have a very hazy sense of their creative work and research. I first met multimedia artist and UIUC Teaching Assistant Professor Guen …

Home to Self: An Interview with Preetika Rajgariah

When talking to artist Preetika Rajgariah about how she arrived at her most recent body of work, I was struck by how a lexicon of movement naturally developed. She spoke about the strategies her family used to recreate the feel, warmth, and comfort of a home that was thousands of miles and oceans away after they settled in the city of Houston. She talked about how travel and relocation punctuated significant shifts in her work. She told me how one of her most commercially successful bodies of work addresses concepts of migration and accumulation but also whispers to how, aesthetically, macro perspectives mimic the micro and cellular. But while motion might be one of the most immediately legible themes that one can draw out of her work, it is stillness that has actually allowed her practice to move forward in substantial and  illuminating ways. Having discernment around what advice, suggestions, constructive criticisms are valid and useful and which ones counter her progression has allowed her work to bloom in ways that disrupt her original understandings of …

This is an image of moderators and panelists talking.

Beyond Alternatives, Toward Refusal

Beyond Alternatives, a two-day symposium organized by Cory Imig and Dulcee Boehm, fostered a dedicated site to share and reflect upon their experiences as artist-organizers working outside of metropolitan centers. The dozens of artists, writers, educators, and curators living in, thinking about, and actively building communities and social networks who came together reflected the need for this event. The symposium converged and slipped around three main themes: sustainability and transparency when directing an artist-led project, social practice and community engagement, and institutional critique. Paddy Johnson, the founding editor of Art F City, a digital platform for critical conversations surrounding contemporary art, a writer and independent art blogger, opened the symposium with a keynote address appropriately titled “Artist-Led Projects.” Johnson opened with a summary of her and collaborator Michael Anthony Farley’s iterative project “We’re SO not getting the security deposit back,” a guide to now defunct artist-run spaces documented in NYC, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. Each guide features commissioned essays, which emphasized the unique history and conditions of each city. Inherent to this project is a …

You Can’t Draw Permanent Lines on the Ground in a Floodplain

Iron the common element of earth in rocks and freightersSault Sainte Marie—big boats coal-black and iron-ore-red topped with what white castlework  The waters working together internationally Gulls playing both sides –Lorine Niedecker From the poem “Lake Superior,” 1967 For the last twelve years, my professional and personal life has been split between the Midwest/Great Lakes metropolis of Chicago and Champaign-Urbana in the center of the state. The train I take between these two homes—on a rail line celebrated in folk-singer Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans”—passes through terrain covered by large, uniform fields of corn and soybeans. Cylindrical grain storage bins periodically rise out of the flat horizon like rockets that got stuck in a perpetual countdown, never to blast off. There are many readymade images that someone like me projects onto these scenes. One of the strongest being the pastoral image of productive family farmers, feeding America with sweat and basic technology; a Grant Wood painting, in 3D living color. After a couple of years of inhabiting and moving through this territory, the surface of …