All posts tagged: Chicago Artist

Smiling Behind the Sun: An Interview with Eric Blackmon

Sixteen By Eric Blackmon 15 years, 7 months, 4 weeks, 1 day, 16 hours, and 33 minutes to be exact. 5,724 dreadful days, 137,416 and a half hours, 8,244,993 miserable minutes. And I won’t forget a second of it. I missed 66 of my kid’s birthdays, 337 holidays, 16 vacations, 14 graduations, 11 funerals, First steps, first words, all of my 20s, half of my 30s, most of my life. I lost everything. Every dime I had, four appeals, friends, family, my fiancé, my relationship with my kids. At times I lost faith, Other times I lost hope, A few times I ever lost myself, But I survived. I survived the conditions. I survived the ornery, tyrannical officers; some wolfish, vulturous inmates. A stabbing, being jumped, two black eyes, two busted lips, one chipped tooth, a busted head, 6 stitches, 1 broken nose, 1 fractured arm, 1 concussion. The suffering, the pain, the loss. But I overcame. I endured. By never hearing, never seeing, never speaking, never caring, never feeling, never loving, never resting, never …

Featured image: Fawzia Mirza. In this medium-close-up shot, Fawzia looks directly and confidently at the camera, smiling with pursed lips and pointing at the viewer with both hands. Fawzia wears a long-sleeved denim shirt with a blue-on-blue, camouflage-like print and the top few snaps unsnapped. The cuffs of her shirt-sleeves are folded back, and she wears several bracelets and rings made of silver or wood. Photo by Bradley Murray, cropped to fit. Courtesy of the artist.

Beyond the Page: Fawzia Mirza

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. For this installment, I interviewed Fawzia Mirza — actor, writer, producer, and “artivist” — about the relationship between her writing and performance, her creations’ many forms and media platforms, the role of comedy and collaboration in her work, and how she hopes her work impacts others. Our conversation took place remotely, with Fawzia responding via audio recording to a set of emailed questions. Find Fawzia on Twitter and Instagram @thefawz. “The Red Line” premieres on Sunday, April 28, on CBS. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.   Marya Spont-Lemus: I first became aware of your work several years ago, when you emceed TEDx Windy City, at which two of my students were speaking. I thought you were such a charming, energetic, bold, incisive yet kind and generous host, and it was so lovely to officially meet you a few years ago and to discover that you’re just as smart …

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Artist Profile on Aay Preston-Myint

The Chicago Archives + Artists Project (CA+AP) is an initiative that highlights Chicago archives and special collections that give space to voices on the margins of history. Led by Chicago-based writers and artists, the project explores archives across the city via online features, a series of public programs and new commissioned artwork by Chicago artists. For 2018, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has funded a series of pilot projects pairing three artists with three archives around the city: Media Burn + Ivan LOZANO, the Leather Archives & Museum + Aay Preston-Myint, and the Newberry Library’s Chicago Protest Collection + H. Melt. This series of articles profiles these featured archives and artists over the course of their collaboration, exploring the vital role of the archive in preserving and interpreting the stories of our city as well as the ways in which they can be a resource for creatives in the community.  In the Leather Archives exhibition, Aay Preston-Myint exhibited their work Dirt/Work, which illustrates the archival process of leather culture. The artist writes, “Archives are one of many …

Mitch Buangsuwon and Modern Americana

Mitch Buangsuwon (he/him) is a photographer, director, and filmmaker based in Chicago and Los Angeles. His work focuses on familial connections and issues. His current film project explores the ways that dementia and lack of control affect a family and his current photography project documents people’s lives across America and delves into their sense of safety. Mitch’s work can be found at mitchb.us. Cecilia Kearney: Let’s start with your background, tell me a little bit about yourself. Mitch Buangsuwon: My name is Aaron Mitchell Buangsuwon. I was born and raised in Los Angles, California. I have only recently been living in Chicago since I moved here for school, so I am very much still heavily tied to my California identity. My dad immigrated from Bangkok, Thailand to go to college where he met my mom—they’re divorced now. I was in a family that was really into the outdoors and traveling, so I was lucky to be able to go all over the U.S. and the world. As a kid, I went to Switzerland a lot as well …

Intimate Justice: Anna Showers-Cruser

“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, we talked to Anna Showers-Cruser in her McKinley park studio about queer identity, relationships to experimentation, and Southern hospitality.  S. Nicole Lane: I’m really excited to interview you because, obviously, I love your work. Where are you from? Anna Showers Cruser: I’m from Richmond, Virginia, and my family’s from southwest Virginia and we hail from Appalachia also. And I went to MICA for undergrad in Baltimore and lived there for a while. And then went back to Richmond, kind of was interested in that small-town or Southern city kind of art scene there, but I definitely kind of wanted to go to a bigger city for grad school. I went to UChicago and that was a cool program because it’s small and interdisciplinary but, as you know, part of a larger institution. So that allowed me to do a lot of play and exploring in my …

Body Passages: Lani T. Montreal and Maxine Patronik on Developing “Blood Memory”

This is the third article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center (the first and second are online). This series gives brief looks into a 10-month, interdisciplinary creative process between Body Passages poets and dancers, documenting and reflecting on aspects of that process as it happens. In September, I spoke with writer Lani T. Montreal and dancer/choreographer Maxine Patronik about their collaborative process; their resulting piece, “Blood Memory,” about trauma and bodily memory; and their thoughts about artists’ responsibility when presenting work with sensitive themes. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Lani and Maxine’s final creation – along with those by other Body Passages groups – were performed at a culminating event at the Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Auditorium on October 12 and 13. Marya Spont-Lemus: It was so cool to get to observe you today at work on “Blood Memory,” your piece-in-progress for Body Passages. So thank you! Before we get into discussing that collaborative piece and your process, I’d love …

This image shows Anna Kunz’s exhibition Color Cast at the Hyde Park Art Center, a series of curtain-like textiles and wall paintings turn the gallery into an immersive experience of color, light, and physical sensation. Anna Kunz Color Cast installation view, 2018, at Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Photo courtesy of Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago.

Anna Kunz: Color Cast at Hyde Park Art Center

In her exhibition Color Cast, Anna Kunz approximates an experience of the world from the inside of a color field painting. The artist has draped the soaring central gallery of the Hyde Park Art Center with gauzy fabrics painted in a mottled palette of primary and secondary colors. The textiles echo—and in some cases directly index—a series of mural-sized wall paintings and paintings on the floor and in the corners and doorways, gently immersing viewers in a multisensory experience of color. Pulling apart paint and ground, color and surface, Kunz’s installation opens up physical and psychic space in which to consider the haptic, affective qualities of abstract painting. It also gestures towards the medium’s embeddedness in social relations and ability to reconfigure them in small but meaningful ways. Enchanting as its visual pleasures are, Kunz’s work is grounded in a rigorous concern for process. The wall paintings are actually monotypes of a sort; Kunz made them in situ by applying large pieces of porous, meshy fabric directly to the walls, then overpainting them with delicate …

Intimate Justice: Amanda Joy Calobrisi

“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, we talked to Amanda Joy Calobrisi about the confrontation of a body, ending war by lifting skirts, and Boudoir photographs in Amanda’s Pilsen apartment over donuts.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: What brought you to Chicago? Amanda Joy Calobrisi: I went to SAIC for graduate school. So Charlie and I moved out here for that. It was a big move. It’s scary, to move states. It’s really intense, there’s something of course exciting about it but it’s also kind of scary. And my mom—I grew up with a single parent—so it also felt like I was abandoning my family. That was kind of huge. But once we got here, we were pretty excited to be out of Boston. I don’t think we realized how settled we were there, not because we wanted to be but because it was comfortable. SNL: Yeah, and the …

‘Body As Image’ Exhibition at Chicago Artists Coalition

The ‘Body As Image’ exhibition featuring the work of Kioto Aoki, Colleen Keihm, and Darryl DeAngelo Terrell creates a space in which black identity and body politics are simultaneously explored within a historical context through the literal lens of photography, while also repositioning itself outside of these narratives by using alternative modes of image-making such as cyanotypes and photograms. This exhibition, presented by Chicago Artist Coalition, features HATCH Project artists-in-residence and was curated by Chicago-based Sabrina Greig, who is the current curator-in-residence. The exhibition is on view from April 27th – May 17th. Walking into the Body as Image exhibition at Chicago Artist Coalition’s gallery, I immediately noticed that each piece, as well as the gallery itself, is completely absent of color. However, that is not to say it is lacking variance in tone. The stark white of the walls of the gallery provide a dramatic contrast that allowed me to take notice of the subtle variations in tone in the many shades of blacks and browns present within the work. Not only do the darker …

Dissenting through Craft with Aram Han Sifuentes

Born out of frustration at the country’s current political state and feeling unsafe to protest, fiber and social practice artist Aram Han Sifuentes began making fabric protest banners the day after the 2016 Presidential election. During her residency at the Chicago Cultural Center, she presented the Protest Banner Lending Library where the public could make, donate and check-out protest banners at no charge. The ongoing library invites people to support movements of dissent through making something with care: dynamic banners on novelty fabric that proudly wear slogans such as “Multi Culti Cuties Unite,” “Too Cute To Be Binary,” and “The Future is Female and Brown.” Hundreds of banners later, it is still a practical resource for organizers and activists who need the assistance and encouragement. Since then, the library has been presented and activated at Alphawood Gallery in Chicago and is currently at the Pulitzer Foundation in St. Louis, where Sifuentes is an artist in residence this summer. The Protest Banner Lending Library was an act of catharsis and solidarity for the artist, bringing people together …

Review: I want to be pretty until I die at Baby Blue Gallery

The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. – Edna St. Vincent Millay And the artists at Baby Blue Gallery, Traci Fowler, Alex Bach, and Carmen Chaparro are immortalizing feelings of youthful desires and fleeting moments in our memory. Baby Blue Gallery is run by Caleb Beck and located in a warehouse space in the Pilsen neighborhood. With early beginnings in his apartment, Beck highlights young emerging artists rather than focusing on a profit-motivated commercial gallery. When Beck first saw Carmen Chaparro’s work, he knew that he wanted to exhibit her work in a show at Baby Blue. Including Alex Bach and Traci Fowler, the exhibition, “I want to be pretty until i die” features the three-person show of  paintings, sculptures, and assemblage pieces that touch on themes of nostalgia, humor, kitsch, and summer. The shows intention opened at the beginning of Chicago’s warm weather, when paintings like Chaparro’s pink pool toys were a soon-to-be reality for many of us who braved another cold winter. Chaparro is originally from …

Double Feature: Intimate Justice: Manal Kara & “Immanentizing the Eschaton” Exhibition Review

“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, we talked to Manal Kara about living in the woods, the thousands of sexes in fungi, and BDSM subculture.  SNL: Where are you from originally? What brought you to Chicago? MK: I was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in England and Kansas. My parents are from Morocco and the rest of my family all still live there and I have dual citizenship. I moved to Chicago on a whim 12 years ago. SNL: Can you talk about living in Gary, Indiana? How has your art practice changed since moving there? MK: I live in a big forest on the dunes. My relationship with non-human organisms has deepened considerably, which has had a huge influence on my artwork and my intellectual interests more generally.  SNL: You work in a variety of medium. Can you talk about your craft based work, like your ceramics? MK: …

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Full Interview with D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem

This interview took place as part of an initiative of the Chicago Archives + Artists Project. CA+AP serves as a laboratory and pipeline for the community preservation of artist’s archives. We want to find creative ways to care for an ever more accessible, playful, and diverse compendium of artists voices, process and ephemera. We believe in the power of stories in many voices, on many platforms, past, present and future. This interview, conducted by Sabrina Greig, will be contributed to D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem’s file at the Chicago Artist Files at Harold Washington Library. Sabrina Greig: I’m here with Denenge in her home studio in Chicago. It’s summertime and a beautiful warm day overlooking the city and Lake Michigan. So, Denenge, tell us about your work and your space here. D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem: Thank you for being here and welcome to my space! So, to give some background for the work, I was born and raised in rural Nigeria in a small town called Mkar, Benue State, Nigeria, and it was very spare but rich cultural upbringing. …

Designing for a Fertile Future

As a designer who is concerned about the future of the planet, Jessica Gorse thinks sustainability is not a sufficient goal. If humans are to stem ongoing environmental and political crises, according to Gorse, they need to get more imaginative and take up regenerative projects that grow better future worlds. To that end, Gorse—who went back to school at age 28 for a degree in Designed Objects at SAIC—investigates the possible lifespans of materials we use every day. This takes form in her work with Fertile Design, a project she started with fellow SAIC students Erin Delaney and Soniya Khasgiwale. Together, they experiment with making plastics out of food waste that are then embedded with seeds and nutrient-rich natural dyes such that through biodegrading they replenish the soil and germinate. What is so great about Gorses’s work is that it is both idealistic and completely practical. She calls this practice “futurist world-building.” When I met Gorse in her studio at SAIC, we began by watching two of her experimental video projects before digging into Fertile Design. “Fusion Vision” is a lo-fi cartoon music video featuring a guitar-plucking …

In The Studio with Hebru Brantley

On March 18th, Hebru Brantley will have his first solo show at Zhou B Gallery. The show is entitled Afro-Futurism: Impossible View. As Hebru puts his show together, SIFC has been invited into his studio to document his process and explore the origins of his work through a five-part video series.
In this first video we ask Hebru to describe his influences and what he hopes his audiences will take from his show.