Featured Image: Gallery wall partially covered with multicolored filers, and show vinyl that reads “CHICAGO ACT COLLECTIVE / LOVE IN THE TIME OF…” In the foreground, there’s a tent and a collection of small sculptures on a short round pedestal. Image courtesy of Silvia Inés Gonzalez.
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 Silvia Inés Gonzalez, educator, artist, and curator of the show Love In The Time Of… at The Chicago Art Department. Featuring the work of Chicago ACT (Artists Creating Transformation), Love In The Time Of… shines a spotlight on the variety of social justice movements in and around Chicago. The exhibition uses an array of works and different printed materials to explore themes of love, care, protest, and community. Gonzalez expands upon those themes and more in the interview below.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Sixty Inches From Center: What was the inspiration for this show?
Silvia Inés Gonzalez: Love In The Time Of… was inspired directly by the Chicago ACT Collective members. In March of 2020, the city had closed due to Covid and our collective decided to create coloring sheets for folks to pass the time and as a form of community care. We called that project, “Love In The Time Of Covid.” When I was curating this show, I realized that no matter what campaign, issue, or circumstance came our way, we had always responded from the place of trust, responsibility, and love.
The ellipse at the end of the title points toward the premise that regardless of what the times hold, as a collective, we have found ways to center love and care as an invaluable asset to community building. Part of the show statement also quotes author bell hooks who states that, “Embracing a love ethic means that we utilize all dimensions of love—care, commitment, trust, responsibility, respect and knowledge—in our everyday lives” (All About Love). I believe that the Chicago ACT Collective has grown into a tight-knit group of people committed to showing up, celebrating, and learning from one another with a shared understanding of this love ethic.
SIFC: Who will be featured and what would you like to tell us about their work?
SIG: The collective is comprised of a group of artists, activists, educators, arts administrators, and thinkers and includes William Estrada and Sarah Atlas, the collective founders, alongside other members: Paulina Camacho, Rudy Esparza, Juan Carlos Perez, Amanda Cortes, Jessica Mueller, Vanessa Sanchez, Eric Reyes, Karen Reyes, Eric J. Garcia, Ivan Arenas, Nicole Marroquin, Hilesh Patel, and myself.
As a collective, we create under the name of The Chicago ACT Collective—taking responsibility for the work produced as a group. As part of the exhibition, I also asked members to submit individual pieces so that we could highlight and combine our work. Some of those pieces on view include the work of Jessica Mueller’s ceramic and textile pieces as well as Ivan Arena’s prints, Juan Carlos’ painting, titled “Estos Papos No Me Quedan,” and Paulina Camacho’s love letters to each member of the collective read aloud as an audio piece that can be heard through my tent installation piece. By playing between the bounds of individual and collective, I wanted to create the space to celebrate who we are and what we each contribute as a whole.
SIFC: Where is this show taking place and why?
SIG: The show is taking place at the Chicago Art Department. I am currently a resident artist there. It’s the second show I have curated in the space. We have a closing reception on August 13th that will also feature various vendors. The show itself comes down on August 31st and is open to private viewings.
SIFC: Who is this show for and who needs to see it? What mark would you like to leave on your audience?
SIG: I hope that families, activists, and other folks interested in collectively building get to see this show. I would like audiences to walk away feeling the palpable love and trust that make the social justice movement work sustainably. We are what we need.
SIFC: Were there any challenges you had in creating this exhibition?
SIG: I think challenges include wanting to have a full house on opening night or to be able to connect more in person with more folks who either support us or who we have worked with, but also having to navigate safety during a pandemic.
On another note, I think that oftentimes the issues we tackle are deeply personal for some of us—we experience the work we create as a response to the times. I am grateful to be able to take time camping, checking in, and simply decompressing with folks that also work to implement care as a strategy in sustaining what we do.
SIFC: Describe one piece in the show that you think everyone should see.
SIG: It is hard to pick a single piece since we are such a collective group! I would love for more folks to contribute to our interactive installation featuring our coloring sheets and Sanctuary City posters!
Love In The Time Of… will be on view at Chicago Art Department from July 9th through August 11, 2021.