Mar 28, 2010

Introductions: Erin Chlaghmo

This week's MFA Fiber and Material Studies lecture will be presented by Erin Chlaghmo. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and holds an BA in both Fine Art and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Redlands. After completing her undergraduate degree she spent a year working a teacher on a American Indian reservation in Southern California. With her husband Karim Chlaghmo, she co-founded the Morocco Cultural Exchange. There organization leads experiential tours to Morocco and provides, "cross-cultural experiences that transcend normal touristic activities."

Chlaghmo's own cross-cultural experiences have influenced her recent bodies of work. She brings together fabric and cultural/personal ephemera to create her assemblages. In her wall mounted fabric pieces, Chlaghmo develops a dialog of cultural conflict and misrepresentation. These pieces combine work that is often loaded with false tropes to expose a hidden conflict. One work draws together stereotypical graphic representations of American Indians with patriot prints of American's early democracy. Her collages of commercially produced prints talk not just about how some systematized representations are incorrect but also how their historical inaccuracies can expose the cracks in the media's construction of many non-western cultures.

Growing up a non-Mormon in Utah, teaching at an American Indian reservation, and marrying into a Moroccan family have given her many experiences as outsider. Being a foreigner in her own home has become a theme that stretches not just across her life but also her recent work. In this work she gathers photos, writing, and objects of these experiences and brings them together into new constructions of that narrative.

Erin Chlaghmo's lecture is Monday, March 29th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss her lecture be sure to check out her blog to see her latest work.

Next week's lecturer will be me! (Tuesday 4/6). David R. Harper will serve as a guest blogger to discuss my work.

Mar 27, 2010

Openings: SAIC Spring Undergraduate Exhibition

I had an opportunity to check out the SAIC Spring Undergraduate Exhibition in the Sullivan Galleries and was impressed. It has all the energy and sexuality one would expect from an undergraduate thesis show but also a lot of unexpected work. The opening was very crowded so I'll stop by and take pictures of some of my favorites later this week. In the meantime please take an opportunity to check out this high caliber undergrad showcase. The Sullivan Galleries are located at 33 S. State Street on the 7th floor and are open Tuesday through Saturday 11am-6pm.

Mar 25, 2010

Introductions: Soo Shin

This week's MFA Fiber and Material Studies lecture will be presented by Soo Shin. She holds a previous MFA and BFA in print making and painting from Ewha Woman's University in Seoul, Korea. In 2009 she recieved a visual arts award from the Chicago Union League Civic and Arts Foundation. Her work has been shown in Seoul, Korea and in Chicago at the International Museum of Surgical Science and Tojo Gallery.

At first glance Soo Shin's sculptures seem like strange artifacts of a natural disaster. They are constructed using stuffed animals, blankets, and abandoned objects like architectural remnants, flooring planks, and umbrellas. The materials she chooses play a unsettling balancing act with each other. Their precarious and purposely unrefined construction speak to human imperfection. While it may appear that the larger industrial pieces frame and support the softer materials it could also be said that they support one another. This hard/soft construction is crucial to Shin's work which she describes as "Emotional DIY."

Shin sees the soft objects as items of comfort which are often sourced from childhood. She writes "[The] soft material in my work invites and lets audiences approach my work closer physically and feel being cared for like a child." In contrast the abandoned objects address the emotions we as adults often don't pay attention too and tend to discard. Her work strives to mend the gaps created by cerebral drama, which in a sense makes her sculptures mechanisms of affection.

Soo Shin's lecture is Friday, March 25th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss her lecture be sure to check out her website for information on her past work and a complete CV.

Next week's lecturer will be Erin Chlaghmo (Monday 3/29)

Mar 24, 2010

In the Wires: Ivan Lozano Blogs for Art21

Ivan Lozano is this month's Art21 Blogger-in-Residence. Lozano is a writer and new media artist currently enrolled in SAIC's MFA Film Video and New Media Department. His work is on view through April 3 at the Arlington Arts Center (Virginia) as part of the Transhuman Conditions exhibit. He has two great posts up already over on the Art21 blog, so please be sure to check them out.

(above) FANTASY VISION MEDITATION (VERSION 2) by Ivan Lozano Photo courtesy of Noble and Superior Projects

Mar 23, 2010

Publications: MFA Fiber and Material Studies

Second year SAIC MFA Fiber and Material Studies student Olivia Valentine created a publication of the work of current FMS graduate students. Included in the collection are images of work by many of the people I've featured on this blog and of course mine as well. It's a 52 page publication and costs $30.95. You can preview the book using the link below and find information on purchasing it.

Mar 17, 2010

Openings: Surrender Dorothy @ Concertina Gallery

Chicago artists Jesse Butcher and Corkey Sinks, channel their inner rural American adolescent for Surrender Dorothy at Concertina Gallery. Modeled around the motif an adolescent's bedroom, the large-scale installation features collaborations and independent work from both artists. Concertina is one of Chicago's many apartment galleries which allows Butcher/Sinks' domestic artifice to work perfectly. The self-aware angst-ridden objects point towards a critical look at the struggle to find an identity in the fog of puerile culture.

The work of Butcher and Sinks reminds us that adolescence is not just a time when people rebel against their parents it is also period of cultural cannibalization. Black tie-dye panels frame the installation in two rooms. One black tie-dye room is filled by black race car bed constructed from plywood and finished with a quilt constructed of band t-shirts. A video monitor featuring a burning drum set lays casually on the quilt. Like the dichotomy of black tie-dye the bed and quilt conjure a teen who doesn't yet know if they want to be a stoner or metal head.

The tendency to straddle identities flows into the back room where a dismantled girl's bike is painted black and chained to a black pole that circumvents the room. On either wall of this room charming yet troublesome black yarn Ojos de Dios (God's Eyes) scream "Daria Goes Summer Camp." Butcher and Sinks repeat a unified paint it black strategy to subvert many objects in the show. This action becomes a way of reclaiming identities and moving them into a space that is self-othered.
Surrender Dorthy runs through March 28th at Concertina Gallery. Gallery hours are. Sundays 12:00 - 5PM or by appointment, check their website for details and directions.

Barbara Wakefield's Untitled

Untitled from Barbara Wakefield on Vimeo.

Mar 16, 2010

Introductions: Barbara Wakefield

Barbara Wakefield will present this week’s Fiber and Material Studies lecture. Wakefield is currently a post-bac student and holds an undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in Studio Art. This past fall Wakefield showed her Ann Guilford Hankie Series at Dubhe Carreño Gallery in Chicago’s West loop. This summer she’ll be participating in a one-month residency in Berlin, Germany. The residency with will conclude with a solo exhibit of work created during her stay.

Wakefield’s work examines the hierarchy of domesticity and seeks to overturn the powers within it. The body becomes a battleground for her hierarchical confrontation. In her “mattress” photo/video, Wakefield not only inverts the body and mattress by struggling under its weight but she also inverts the role of the audience. Dressed in silky slip, Wakefield gaze is turned directly to the viewer. She breaks the fourth wall in manner often only seen in pornography. She remains powerful and above objectification choosing instead to confront the viewer with her frustration as if to say, “Want to give me a hand with this?”

In Wakefield’s piece the mattress itself functions both as the essentialized mattress: a place to sleep, fuck, and die but it also as the body not seen in her work. In the tradition of Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emins, and Felix Gonzolez-Torez her double bed becomes a site of loss and power.

Early feminist performance and contemporary gender studies find their way into Wakefield new video/photo work Monumental Failure. The work shows her dressed in men’s under garments examining a cucumber she stuffed her y-fronts. Wakefield’s veggie-drag echoes Judith Butler’s assertion that gender presentation is always drag. The potencies of any given drag performance is measured not by girth but by bravado. Watch Wakefield’s video for a sampling of hers.

Barbara Wakefield’s lecture is Wednesday, March 17th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss her lecture be sure to check out the Dubhe Carreño website for her full CV and information on past work.

Next week's lecturer will be Soo Shin (Friday 3/26).

Mar 15, 2010

In the Studio: Rules of Man

My male trope series continues. Here are few new pieces and some finalized versions of pieces I started earlier in the year.

Photo before pom-pom alteration by Matthew Schlagbaum

Mar 11, 2010

Introductions: Bobbi Meier

This week's MFA Fiber and Material Studies lecture will be presented by Bobbi Meier. Meier holds a previous Master's of Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently on sabbatical from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois where she teaches art.

This last semester I got to know Bobbi Meier not just as a colleague but as a collaborator. During one our first critiques she said she enjoyed responding to other artist's mark-making and from this comment her and began a collaborative conversation. We decided that the parameters for our piece would be: 1) It should be textile-based 2) That we would pass it back and forth as often as possible 3) We had to add material every week 4) We could not remove material but we could alter it. Meier began the process with an embroidery and through a series of additive and reconstructive interventions we developed a strong collaborative conversation. This back and forth led to many material and methodological discoveries in both our studios.

This responsive method of collaboration is indicative of Meier's process. Her work speaks to ability to build conversations in her work by drawing from a history of painting, crafts, and domestic textiles. A recent body of work developed through a daily practice of drawing at home. Her son's forgotten action figures and the textile patterns in her home developed a visual conversation rich in dynamic. Against the background of her mother's bed sheets and furniture her son's toys began to speak not just of the history of objects but also of the exaggeration of postures.

Meier's drawings quickly developed into complex paintings and drawings that merged her love of textiles with a strong design element. The work moved from canvas to the wall and then after taking Rebecca Ringquis's “Fast Line, Slow Line” at Ox-Bow it was transported back into a semi-domestic context as a large scale wall piece. The work included found and purchased fabric, embroidery, and machine stitches.

Meier observed many visual responses to space and surface during her recent trip to India in India. She say that from painted elephants to trash trucks the culture of India was one of ornamentation. At the same time she fell in love with the naturally ornate beauty of a Banyan tree outside her residence. Combining it's innate decodance with cultural cues from her travels, Meier adorned the tree with tree-safe non-toxic paint. This action both show reverence to the tree and embedded it with her own history.

Bobbi Meier's lecture is Thursday, March 11th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss her lecture be sure to check out her website for information on her past work.

Next week's lecturer will be Barbara Wakefield (Wednesday 3/17)

Mar 10, 2010


I was featured along with some DC artists on a They were talking about Isabel Manalo's blog, where I was featured way back in 2008. Then I was still living in DC and had an amazing salmon colored wall in my studio.

Mar 1, 2010

Introductions: David R. Harper

This week's MFA Fiber and Material Studies lecture will be presented by David R. Harper. Harper holds a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Nova Scotia, Canada. He has shown extensively throughout Canada and received several distinguished awards for his work. At first glance people viewing Harper's work are awestruck by his consummate combination of embriodery, wood working, taxidermy, and fiber construction. On second consideration the relationships between the materials he carefully selects began to illustrate a narrative of the precious, the wild, the myth, and the object. He draws from a historical framework of Victorian collecting, and ancient folktales then combines this with a contemporary consideration of the domestic.

For Harper the domestic is all about the wild. It is a constant struggle to displace our baser instincts and give them a home in a more gentile, more curated environment. Harper's work doesn't strive for a freakish Island of Doctor Moreau-like reconstruction of nature. Instead he seeks to expose man's mythic constructions of nature through taxonomy and domestication. He often combines flawless taxidermy constructions with equally virtuosic embroidery as he did for the piece The Last to Win (pictured below). In this work he looked at four famous horses who ended up mounted in museums: Napoleon’s “Vizir,” Roy Rogers’ “Trigger,” “Comanche”—a cavalry survivor of The Battle of Little Bighorn, and “The General”—a Guinness Book world record holder for largest horse. The horse itself is constructed from a taxidermy form and cowhides and features a turn of the century-style embroidery of a woman on it's loin. It is a combination of man's love for nature and simultaneous need to turn it into a souvenir.

In David Harper's newer work he begins to explore man's desire to transport the domestic into the wild with a series of 1/3 scale muslin constructed airline trailers. These great white campers are constructed like tents but like his taxidermy work they also reference human dysfunction and the diachronic state of cultural memory.

David R Harper's lecture is Tuesday, March 2nd at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss his lecture be sure to check out his website for more images, installation shots, and a complete resume.

Next week's lecturer will be Bobbi Meier (Thursday 3/11)