All posts tagged: Chicago history

Locating Your Practice in ‘Todros Geller: Strange Worlds’ with Curator Susan Weininger

Todros Geller, (1889-1949), was a Jewish-American artist born in Ukraine, immigrating to Canada and later Chicago in 1906, where he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He became a prominent artist during his time, having a hand in many organizations in Chicago and working with such artists as Charles White. The exhibition Todros Geller: Strange Worlds showcases the diverse work—in style, subject matter, and medium—that Geller created throughout his lifetime; and is hosted at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning, an organization that began as the College of Jewish studies, where Todros Geller taught for many years. Many of the objects from the exhibition come from the institute’s extensive collection of Jewish art and historic, ritual objects, a collection that Todros Geller began. Co-curator of the exhibition Dr. Susan Weininger explains Geller’s interest in Jewish art, “One of the things that [Geller] pursued his whole life was the idea of a Jewish art museum. He knew that there was a history of Jewish art [and] he traveled to study that history.” Dr. Weininger and …

Aprils Fools and Their Universe: Damon Williams, Jr. and #LetUsBreathe Collective

Damon Williams, Jr. (he/him) is a poet, organizer, one half of brother-sister duo April Fools, co-director of the #LetUsBreatheCollective, and overall unique being. I first heard of his work through mutual comrades, through his and Daniel Kisslinger’s podcast Airgo, and through his rhymes, which embrace self-healing and accountability, and expel self-love and love of your neighbors. MG: Can you introduce yourself for me tell me a little about yourself? DW: I am Damon Williams, Jr. I am 25 years old, and I am a facilitator, teaching artist, organizer, and media and culture maker on the SouthSide of Chicago. MG: What does Chicago mean to you and how do you feel it’s energy affects people? DW: Chicago is home and Chicagoans are hometown people. It is a city that is landlocked, where we live upon this land taken from indigenous native people. It being in the “middle” of the country; being the “Second City,” named after it was rebuilt and thrived once again after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; it is not second to New …

Cruising the Archives: Chicago’s Gerber/Hart Library and Archives

“Often by chance, via out-of-the-way card catalogues, or through previous web surfing, a particular ‘deep’ text, or a simple object (bobbin, sampler, scrap of lace) reveals itself here at the surface of the visible, by mystic documentary telepathy. Quickly — precariously — coming as it does from an opposite direction. If you are lucky, you may experience a moment before.” — Susan Howe, “The Telepathy of Archives” This past February, an initiative to pull books containing “LGBTQ content” from a public library swept through Orange City, Iowa. While the campaign wasn’t successful, its intentions remain the stuff of relatively recent Midwestern history. This is to say that when the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives was founded in 1981, patrons couldn’t necessarily count on finding their own experiences and narratives reflected in the shelves of public libraries — while queer content might not have been explicitly banned, it was certainly a blind spot in most mainstream collections. Named after Henry Gerber (founder of the first American gay rights association incorporated in Illinois) and Pearl Hart (one of Chicago’s …

Archivist Dan Erdma plugs a wire into equipment at Media Burn. He is surrounded by various equipment used for digitizing and playing different video formats. Photo by William Camargo.

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Media Burn

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 will profile 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. The CA+AP Festival will take place at Read/Write Library on July 13-14. This interview has been edited for length. Click here to read the full, unabridged interview. Media Burn Archive, …

Retelling Lives on the South Side through Film: South Side Home Movie Project

As a Hyde Parker, I hear about the South Side Home Movie Projects (SSHMP) frequently. I’m a hop, skip, and jump away from their front doors; I’m a short bike ride away from where their current exhibition is located. But I’m always surprised to hear that other people, in other parts of our city, are unaware of their presence, and their promising initiative to archive, collect, restore, and preserve the South side’s history. The SSHMP’s mission is to focus on the people who live here, who have lived here, and who will live here. Their process of researching and exhibiting home movies from the South side of Chicago is reinstating an untold legacy and offering access to views of life on the best side. What follows is a Q + A interview with Candace Ming, the Project Manager and Archivist at the SSHMP. S. Nicole Lane: When did you get into archiving? How did you end up at the the Southside Home Movie Project? Candace Ming: After graduating from American University with a degree in film production I became interested …

Queens Who Bathe and Queer Visibility

Andie Meadows (Miss Meadows) is a queer photographer in Chicago whose photographic project, “Queens Who Bathe” immediately pulled me in to their overarching work. New and familiar faces, elegant poses, and dramatic looks occupy the project’s life on Instagram. What is also notable are the descriptions and mentions in the caption that illustrate the importance of collaboration and how artists, creatives, activists, and performers make up the vibrant and growing Chicago family. I met with Andie at the WasteShed—a resource that provides repurposed arts, crafts, and materials—where we discussed queer history, building a space in their tub, and the vulnerability involved when being photographed. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: You said you plan events for the Chicago History Museum? Andie Meadows: Yeah, so it’s called “The Out Committee.” It’s a volunteer committee that’s been going for fifteen years. I’ve been on it for two. They do a season of programs, usually it’s three or four. I’m working to get them to do more throughout the year, because I am not just gay for [Pride] …

Performing Revolutionary: Art, Action, Activism by Nicole Garneau

Artist and activist Nicole Garneau’s new book Performing Revolutionary: Art, Action, Activism takes you on an intimate journey through her project UPRISING, a series of performances that took place once a month for five years. Defining her UPRISINGs as “public demonstration of revolutionary practices,” these performances, protests, celebrations envelop around efforts of connection, community, and care in a way that is reflected in the writings in this book (Garneau, 2). The artist lovingly holds your hand while she walks you through how this project began, and then onwards into each of the 60 performances taking place in eight states and other international locations, beginning in 2008. Each of the sixty performances explored within this book is two-fold: one part being ‘IN ACTION’ which describes the performance and event; the other being ‘Revolutionary Practice,’ which offers a prompt, an exercise the reader can do themselves, putting the action into practice. Garneau describes this book as, “The result of many years of exploration into how performance can be used to create public demonstrations of the possibilities for a more loving, …

Preserving Celluloid Film: A Look at Archiving in Chicago

In 2011, visual artist Tacita Dean opened her exhibition “FILM” at the Tate Modern where she responded to the destruction of celluloid film. She exhibited a silent, 11 minute, 35mm looped film in the London museum. The exhibition set out to provide a physical display for viewers to see the difference between digital and celluloid. The history of the moving image, important to Dean, exhibited the richness in color and the power of the projection. The New York Times writes, “Like the vinyl long-playing record, the Polaroid camera and the manual typewriter, celluloid has attracted a generation of artists who have come of age in a digital world and have developed a nostalgic soft spot for analog.” I spoke to Dan Erdman, an archivist at the Media Burn, and Director Nancy Watrous from Chicago Film Archives, about the importance of preserving celluloid and the impact of film on history. No one ever claimed that film restoration was sexy. It’s granular. It’s a bit mundane. It’s lots of organizing and dusting off grimy surfaces. It’s protective gloves and …

Walking Through Change with Deep Time Chicago

It’s an unseasonably warm December morning and I’m driving cautiously through a Chicago warehouse district, south on Ashland Avenue past an overpass of the Stevenson expressway. The slice of the interstate makes this patch of the city feel like a peninsula, jutting timidly into a convergence of two stretches of the Chicago River. My directions lead me down a small road innocuously named Marketplace Access, past the slick corporate bulk of the QTS Data Center campus, and I’ve arrived. I join a group of about forty light-jacketed companions at Canal Origins Park for a walk through the city’s history of timber extraction with Deep Time Chicago, a collective of ecology-minded artists who want to retrain our awareness to our surroundings, and the artists Sara Black and Raewyn Martyn, whose joint installation Edward Hines National Forest is on view at the Hyde Park Art Center. The park commemorates the point where the Illinois & Michigan Canal once connected the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River drainage basin. It’s an impressive sounding spot, but if I’ve ever …