All posts tagged: visual art

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 …

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 …

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 …

An abstract illustration of many different colored overlapping squares cut from tissue paper.

June Art Picks

🏳️‍🌈 Happy Pride Month, lovelies! 🏳️‍🌈 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 many different colored overlapping squares cut from tissue paper. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Through June 5, 2021Joanne Aono: Harvesting Ethnic RootsBoundary: 2334 W 111th Pl, Chicago, ILFree Through June 5, 2021David Leggett: Four Door LexusAspect/Ratio: 864 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, ILFree Through June 12, 2021Ebony G. Patterson: She …

Featured Image: Stephen Signa-Aviles stands in his studio at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is wearing dark jeans and a dark, short-sleeved hooded sweatshirt, and a black face mask with a white graphic pattern. He looks up and into the camera. His studio space is narrow and cluttered. There are various works in progress, as well as shelving units with paints, books, and other materials. Photo courtesy of Stephen Signa-Aviles.

Working From Home: Four Art Students Reflect on Making in a Pandemic

During the summer of 2020, with COVID-19 cases rapidly rising, it became clear that higher education would have to look different in the near future. There was a lot of press coverage about how colleges and universities could, would, and should function during a global pandemic. How could it be safe to bring tens of thousands of people to one place, many of them living three or four to a space? How could students continue their education under these stressful conditions? What type of accommodations should be made to allow for those who want to return to campus to do so safely? What about fiscal solvency? A lot of conversations and articles about the reopening of college campuses were about economics, the ways a virtual or hybrid model could greatly alter or damage traditional ideals of higher education, and the exploitation of professorial labor (both tenured and nontenured). The University of Illinois system originally announced in mid-June that Fall 2020 would be a hybrid model of education, with in-person and online classes. This model was …

Review: 36° 15’ 43” N 29° 59’ 14” E at Goldfinch Gallery

Texture as memory, as language, as impression of thought and purpose; this is what is brought forth onto and within the imprints on the surface of objects made by SaraNoa Mark. Tactile and intricate, the artist’s mark making oftentimes reads like indecipherable words, while other times appears as imagery unfolding within the cracks of the surface, much like a relief. These carved and etched lines are akin to the marks made in drawing, which is at the heart of the artist’s practice. “Drawing is the lens through which I experience the world,” says Mark. “I view the earth, itself, as a drawing — continuously drafted by environmental and human gestures.”  Earthy and mineral-esque, Mark’s objects appear as solid as a rock and as precious as a relic. Manifesting their pieces from carved ceramic, clay, and stone, the artist has chosen a monochromatic palette that accentuates their mark making. With difference in color out of the way, the rich, lush texture is left bare for us to examine and search, so dense and palpable that I can almost physically …

Bodies Immersed installation overview

It’s On Us to Change Our Own Worlds: A Review of Bodies Immersed, at Roots & Culture

What feels particularly acute and tender in Bodies Immersed, the exhibition currently on view at Roots & Culture, is the urgency underlying the artists’ contemporary visions. While utopian ideals are not new in art and architecture, the work by Chicago-based artists Megan Diddie and Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero in collaboration with ColectivoMultipolar (Sandra Oviedo) questions what it means to be vulnerably human in the Anthropocene—coexisting uneasily in late capitalism with other creatures, elements, and natural and unnatural forces as we navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and other compounding crises. This work imagines and documents intimate ways of being in sustainable communion with self, with others, and with natural and built environments. In so many ways, the work of Bodies Immersed asks and imagines how we might make life more livable.  im·merse/iˈmərs/verb 1. to dip or submerge in liquid The exhibition’s works (installations, photographs, videos, sound, and mixed media on paper) meet in water, dwelling in and through it. Each artist raises implicit questions about water rights, water circulation, sustainable water use, and ecologies—broadly conceived. Fluidity is thus …

An abstract composition of shapes comprising of pink and blue half circles, yellow squares, and ripped blue paper on a light blue background.

April 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 composition of shapes comprosing of pink and blue half circles, yellow squares, and ripped blue paper on a light blue background. Illustration by Ryan Edmund Thiel. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Through April 4, 2021Spring Art AuctionPilsen Arts & Community House: OnlineFree Through April 4, 2021Michael K. Paxton: InterpolationsEvanston Art Center: 1717 Central St, Evanston, ILFree Through April 9, 2021The Grilled Cheese …

7. Chris Bradley, installation view of Usual Objects. From left to right: Attic, 2021. Wood, stainless steel, steel, aluminum tube, 3D printed PLA, black cord, LED, acetate, paint, 15 x 14.5 x 14 inches. Cellar, 2021. Wood, steel, 3D printed PLA, epoxy putty, paint, LED, modeling turf, twine, 12 x 15 x 10 inches. Breeze, 2021. Wood, steel, stainless steel, 3D printed PLA, PET plastic, LEDs, muffin fans, fabric, 19 x 19 x 19 inches.

Usual Objects in Unusual Times

“All of our worlds shrunk down to our homes and our thoughts,” writes artist Madeleine Leplae about this past year, during which she began to appreciate time spent outdoors and decided to paint trees, albeit ones with unreal proportions and vibrant backgrounds. Her painting Sappy Tree, 2020, with its unusually long trunk and button-like appendages, appears almost human. The piece is currently on view as part of the group show Usual Objects at Carrie Secrist Gallery, now housed in the residences at 900 West (Washington). Featuring the work of Chris Bradley, Nicole Dyer, Brendan Getz, Madeleine Leplae, Matt Lipps, Liliana Porter, and Amanda Ross-Ho, the exhibition focuses on the still life genre, which might seem quaint (outdated?) in these socially and politically charged times, but is in fact apropos to our current moment. Many of the works were created in the past year, when all of us, artists included, spent much time at home, among our possessions. The first three artists in the show present objects that are dramatically smaller than life size. This can …

Featured image: An installation view of Sergio Lucena: The Blue that embraces me... at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery. Three paintings hang on a white wall. Photo by Evan Jenkins, Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim.

Review of Sergio Lucena: “The Blue that embraces me…” at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Any other time, it would go without saying, but in 2021, it’s worth mentioning that art is best seen in person. As we inch toward a return to normalcy, we exist in a half-in, half-out lockdown world, leaving us trapped in a sort of art show purgatory. Do we roam the viewing room online first? Do we go in sight unseen? Or perhaps we just do a little peek at the viewing room on the bus on the way to the gallery. To address those concerns directly, The Blue that embraces me… is a show you must see at the gallery. You can, of course, glance or pour over the online installation views here, but for that oomph, that deep breath of cleansing air, the show can only be seen in person. The brief show at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery is made up of six works by Sergio Lucena. Although blue hues are present throughout, as the title suggests, each canvas is an exploration of a range of colors. Lucena’s paintings all follow a similar theme: …

Image: Deep Water and Drowning Are Not The Same Thing by YoYo Lander, 2019. The mixed-media piece shows a nude woman with brown skin sitting with her head in her arms. She wears a red head wrap and sits on blue sheets. Image courtesy of the artist.

Not All Fair: The Black Female Nude in Art

In Greek mythology, Andromeda was a princess like many before her, achingly beautiful, conspicuously silent, and waiting to be rescued. In her young life, her beauty had been her foil; her mother, Queen Cassiopeia, boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, the daughters of Poseidon. When the Queen’s blasphemous words got back to the beautiful sea nymphs the enraged Nereids demanded justice from their father, the god of the sea. Justice came swiftly in the form of a wild sea beast that ravaged the coastline of the princess’ kingdom. The ruler of that kingdom, King Cepheus, concluded that the only way to appease the angry sea god would be to sacrifice his precious daughter to the monster. And so poor, beautiful Andromeda was chained naked and shivering to a rock in the ocean to meet her fate. When the hero Perseus flew over in his winged sandals, he first saw her on the rock and mistook her for a marble statue. Entranced by her beauty, the hero and demigod swooped down, murdered …

A collage illustration of turquoise and light grey stripes on a black background. Image created by Ryan Edmund Thiel.

March 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: A collage illustration of turquoise and light grey stripes on a black background. Image created by Ryan Edmund Thiel. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Through March 21, 2021K. Kofi Moyo and FESTAC ’77: The Activation of a Black ArchiveLogan Center for the Arts: 915 E 60th St, Chicago, ILFree March 1-31, 2021Cozy WarmCircle Contemporary: 2010 W Carroll Ave. Chicago, ILFree March, 2021POP4 Online ExhibitionLincoln …

Elinor Carucci, Red #3, 2015

Reproductive Agency—The Political Made Visual

January 22nd marked the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, but the debate around reproductive rights didn’t end there. Denying Title X family planning dollars to providers like Planned Parenthood and concerns over Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court are just a few examples of how the fight continues. Engaging with and broadening the discussion of how fertility is politicized, Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) provides a comprehensive look at reproductive issues through art. Kudos to MoCP for tackling the issue broadly, focusing on the spectrum of experiences, not just birth control and abortion. The exhibition includes artworks addressing desire and sexuality, the heteronormative childbirth industry, and menopause. That said, the curatorial narrative is strongest in articulating the ways in which patriarchal systems affect reproductive freedoms. The largest gallery space is devoted to Laia Abril’s project On Abortion: And the Repercussions of Lack of Access, 2016. Her archive of images and text is based on years of research about the consequences of restricting access …

Doomscrolling with Cats: A Review of Andreas Fischer’s And apologies for bringing this up

Late in her essay on the painter David Salle, Janet Malcolm records his thoughts on Francis Bacon, for whom she sees a comparison in the “dire cast” of their figures on canvas. Salle’s women (“degrading, depersonalized, fetishistic images,” per one review), and Bacon’s men (troubling, car-smashed meat sacks, per my own recent Google search), do share a quality of doom. Yet Salle is quick to deflect an affinity. “Bacon is actually not an artist I’m interested in,” he says, “but lately I’ve been thinking about him a lot in attempting to defend myself against certain criticisms.” He continues: “If you turned these criticisms around and leveled them against Bacon, it would be absurd. And it’s purely because his work is homosexual and mine is heterosexual. The same attitudes transposed are incorrect.” “Why [asks Malcolm] are dire images done by a homosexual more correct than those done by a heterosexual?” “Because in art politics, to be homosexual is, a priori, more correct than to be heterosexual. Because to be an artist is to be an outsider, …