All posts tagged: visual art

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, …

Review: Caesar’s Palace at LVL3

“He just can’t get enough of you and literally drools in your presence,” reads a Cosmopolitan article from 2016 titled “15 Signs You Need a Dog Way More Than a Boyfriend.” In any other context, this descriptor would be troubling, to say the least. But from dogs, those domesticated carnivores whose fetid excrement we lovingly pick up with our own hands, obsessive adoration is expected. In Caesar’s Palace, the two-person show at LVL3 featuring work by Caroline Jacobson and Taylor Marie Prendergast, that deification goes both ways. Jacobson’s “Monument” sculptures turn our canine companions into stone bust idols worthy of worship, adorning them with towering wigs that rival those worn by 18th-century French royalty. In addition to the squishy-faced, tall-haired “Monument” dogs, Jacobson and Prendergast’s pieces depict bunny rabbits, pigs, gargoyles, and hybridized creatures that defy any categorization beyond “uncanny.”  The uncanny is a unifying feature in Jacobson and Prendergast’s work, which encompasses found object figures outfitted in wigs (Jacobson), painted bridal portraits with melting skin and sharpened teeth (Prendergast), silicone faces with pig snouts …

February 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 fuchsia, pink, and orange wave-like shapes. Image created by Ryan Edmund Thiel. This is a growing list, so check back often with new additions. Dreams of a New Day — Songs by Black ComposersCedille Records: Online$0-16 Through February 4, 2021Paper PavilionsFAR Center for Contemporary Arts: 202 S. Rogers St. Bloomington, INFree Every Sunday from February 7 – 28, 2021, 1pmRehearsals: José Santiago Pérez’s UnburdeningsChicago Artists Coalition: OnlineFree …

A graphic that gives information about the Screens iteration of the We Series. Created by Lindsay Zae Summers.

We Series: Screens

When does a net become a screen? “Television” derives from the Greek root telos meaning “end”, or “goal of completion”; and from the Latin root, videre, “to see”. This same word in German is “Bildschirm”. Bild, as in picture, shirm, as in an umbrella. In Old High German skirm, skerm means “protection”, and the root sker means “to cut”. A literal translation for Bildschirm would be “image screen”, or perhaps an “image cutout”. We can even imagine it to mean an image cutout from reality, thus a simulation to be witnessed. Together these etymologies bridge two realms: “television” embraces perhaps more the psychological side, whereas “Bildschirm” relates more to the physical one. This makes us wonder about the possible relationships between different types of screens, more generally: phones, monitors, televisions, silk screens, window screens, smoke screens, fishing nets, scrim, mosquito nets, hosiery, filters, and projections.  When talking about a screen, we feel like there is a vector involved. For a vector, there must be two sides or two poles, parts that are situated directional from …

Black Narcissus: After Nereida Patricia’s cracked sidewalk fountain

“Who’s there?” Narcissus stops trepidatiously and slowly turns around to stare into the thick underbrush. Nothing moves among the stand of ferns and foxglove. The mountain nymph Echo hides behind a pine tree, pushing her back against the dimpled bark. Her heart thumps deafeningly in her ear and her arms tremble noticeably, but she softly repeats Narcissus’s question back to him: Who’s there? Narcissus’s eyes narrow and he listens intently for several minutes before deciding he only heard the ghost of his own voice, and continues his hike through the forest. Echo sighs and slumps away from the tree, peering slowly around the trunk. She waits until Narcissus is several yards ahead before following after him, trailing him like an elongated, late-afternoon shadow, and occasionally darting behind a tree or rock again whenever he suddenly pivots around—unnerved by his acute hunter’s instincts—and calls out again, “Who’s there?” Who’s there? They continue on in this way for several miles until suddenly, overcome by her urge to smell his ripe body odor, admire his doe-like eyelashes, stroke …

Image: Installation view of Terry Adkins: Resounding Lower East Gallery, Pulitzer Arts Foundation © 2020 The Estate of Terry Adkins / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York Photograph by Alise O’Brien © Pulitzer Arts Foundation and Alise O’Brien Photography.

Resounding: Terry Adkins at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Terry Adkins (1953-2014) was a transdisciplinary artist who utilized sculpture, sound, video, performance, and printmaking strategies in combination with material, personal and historical research. Through a deep investment in the use of creative methodologies to investigate personal and historical narrative, Adkins developed an artistic framework that embraced complexity and contradiction in service of an expansive and generative model of identity, one that has continued to influence contemporary art discourse. Terry Adkins: Resounding, on view at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, features over 60 objects that include career-spanning sculpture, print, and video work as well as items from Adkins’ personal collection of musical instruments, books, and ephemera. The exhibition marks some of the most significant moments in the artist’s career and provides new insight into how Adkins situated sound outside of a normative, hierarchical structure. Adkins developed the term ‘potential disclosure’ to describe the three-staged process that rooted his material practice. This process, consisting of (1) collection (2) gestation and (3) transformation1, was the technique through which Adkins synthesized his material and historical research. …

Breaking the Surface at Heaven Gallery with Erin Hayden and Max Guy

“An image is an image, and sincerity is in the shuffle”  —Erin Hayden in conversation with Max Guy Erin Hayden and Max Guy’s exhibition Cups Swords and Eyes may be at Heaven Gallery, but its concerns are altogether earthly. The techniques are playful and quick, the style ranging and unpretentious, the materials scrappy, the ideas “elementary”—to quote the artist—creating a show that is quite sincere. Here there is no desire to transcend into the heavenly realm, but rather an insistence on sitting in all of one’s detritus and obsession. There is real comfort in the simplicity of the show’s ideas and in its commitment to making process visible. Hayden and Guy couldn’t have found a better home than with Heaven Gallery’s warm and casual atmosphere filled with gently pulsing dance music, champagne light, and a gorgeous selection of vintage clothing. The rarified environment of art is blissfully far from mind, and visitors are welcome to meet the art on its own terms. Dominating the main room at Heaven Gallery is a massive salon hang of …

We Series: Food

Journeys and weavings that we explore through cooking, eating, and sharing food. Sharing food with ourselves, our loved ones, and the ghosts we carry.  What is the comfort zone you need to create in order to take that journey?  ////////////////////////////////// The Beginning of the recipe starts at the table bickering with your family.  The Beginning of the recipe starts sprawled across a plush couch when a long twisting aromatic thread travels from the kitchen and tugs at your impatient hunger.  The Beginning of the recipe starts buried in a memory you left to tumble around in your mind and is now a glistening Fable.  As we peer at our Fable, Into the PRIMORDIAL SOUP of our creation Infinite worlds begin to form Some give us comfort     [wrapped in the wafts of atmospheric nostalgia] While others are  w h i s p e r s of possibilities     [adrift in the escapism of dreams] *Coalescing and creating a symphony of FUCKING DELICIOUSNESS* TAP, TAP, TAP. Are we ready?  Layer your atmosphere – a low hiss …

Bisa Butler’s Portraits: Representation in and for 2020

Each December, the New York Times (and likely other media outlets) publish “The Year in Pictures.” For reasons both good and bad, images of Black Americans should predominate in 2020. Some pictures will be tragic, like images of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Jacob Blake, while others will be proud, showing Black Lives Matter protests, Kamala Harris, and Stacey Abrams’ Get Out the Vote efforts. Representations of Black people also predominate at the Art Institute of Chicago in the exhibition Bisa Butler: Portraits. Especially timely today, Butler exclusively presents the Black figure, using personal and historic images as the basis for her portrait quilts.     About her focus on Black people and their narratives, she says: “I never want my artwork to show my people in a bad light. We are people who’ve come a long way. We do struggle still. There’s still a lot of social ills that are affecting my people, so I want to address that, but I also don’t want this paternalistic view, like ‘oh poor them.’ I’m not interested in that. …

Perto de Lá < > Close to There: João Oliveira and Amina Ross in Conversation (English Version)

This interview has been edited for clarity and length, and translated for our readers in Brazil. Leia este artigo em português. Amina:  Hi João. I was looking at the prints made of the unfolded plastic animal skins and I think we share an interest in what exists beyond the surface of our everyday. As you put it so well, I see your interest in “a force capable of rupturing the surface of that to which we’ve become used.”Is there anything you hope to find in the unfolding of a body? In the rupturing of the surface? Is there anything that you haven’t found yet? What keeps you going in this exploration? João: Amina, hi! I will try to answer as best as I can, because these questions don’t have easy or immediate answers. I still haven’t found out anything, and I don’t think I’ve ever done it for an answer or for what I expect to find. I keep exploring because of the moving force that even the most banal question can have. In that sense, …

Body Passages: Exploring Visual Art with Poets Lorraine Harrell and David Nekimken

This is the second article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center (the first is here). 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. On an afternoon in early May, I showed up to watch an “open rehearsal” at the Chicago Cultural Center’s dance studio only to find myself a participant. This opportunity became even more exciting when the people I was there to see—Lorraine Harrell and David Nekimken, two delightful and effervescent poets who were in residence through Body Passages—invited me to join them as they sought inspiration and inputs in the galleries. We spent an hour together exploring the Cultural Center’s first-floor exhibitions, as the pair shared their observations and perspectives about visual artworks, made connections to their own lives and practices, and generated ideas for a joint creative project—an interdisciplinary, in progress work, prompted by their participation in Body Passages. A …

Featured image: This is a photograph of a group of people in a dance studio, sitting in a circle of chairs. Some people have their backs to the camera, and other people are shown straight-on or in profile. The two chairs nearest the camera are unoccupied, creating a window to the speaker, a man holding a microphone. Photograph by Hannah Siegfried.

Body Passages: Poets and Dancers Discuss Collaborative Processes In Progress

This is the first article in an ongoing series about Body Passages, a partnership between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center. 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. Launched in 2017, Body Passages is the brainchild of co-founders Sara Maslanka (Artistic Director of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble) and Natasha Mijares (Reading Series Curator of The Chicago Poetry Center; Natasha also writes for Sixty). This innovative, interdisciplinary partnership brings together artists of various forms—poets and dancers, ostensibly, but many with practices extending beyond those bounds—over the course of 10 months to create original, collaborative work engaging language and movement. The 2018 cohort is comprised of 14 broadly diverse artists at different points in their artistic growth, who are together interrogating this year’s theme—“Activation”—and developing new work in response. Following December auditions, their process formally began in January when selected poets and dancers were assigned into groups and will officially conclude in October with final …

The Kids Might Stand A Chance…

On Friday I made my way out to KVG Gallery, a spot run by the magnificent Anna Kunz who will be going off to New York very soon for a year-long residency.  The exhibition, titled Indestructible Youth, was co-curated by brilliant artist and painter, and now curator, Erol Scott Harris II.  The essay that went with the exhibition was written by writer, art historian and educator Debra Riley Parr and offered me a moment in the middle of the opening activity to reflect on my own relationship with the concept of indestructible youth.  After quoting lyrics from Neil Young, Parr states: “Forever young is not attractive.  Everyone needs to pack up and leave Sugar Mountain sooner or later.  And yet, the yearning to live in that space lingers.  Indeed, the appeal of youth and youth cultures holds strong in a young culture like that of the US where being young is cool, powerful, sexy and dangerous.  The Italian Futurists of the early 20th century thought similarly about the attractions of being young, and they clearly …