Activist Art, Collage, Craft Work, Design, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Pilsen, Sculpture, Textiles
Rocío Caballero. “On the Threshold of Silence/En el umbral del silencio,” 2014. Mixed media on canvas.
Including over ninety artists from both the United States and Mexico, “La Muerte Niña: Day of the Dead” is an exhibition in which the private becomes public. The space is awash with orange and yellow marigolds, sequins, skeletons and religious iconography, but beyond this visually stunning assembly of cultural symbols are carefully constructed personal stories. Read the rest of this entry »
Cecilia Vicuña. “The Origin of Weaving,” 2015. Mixed Media. /Photo: Jason Branscum
Poetry demands to be read aloud, to be experienced as a multi-sensory form. Read the rest of this entry »
Kesa, Edo period (1603–1868), mid-/late eighteenth century. Japan. Gift of Gaylord Donnelley in memory of Frances Gaylord Smith.
Sometimes, discipline is the basis of freedom. The sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter. The haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables. The sonata form demands exposition, development and recapitulation. Shakespeare, Basho and Beethoven thrived within these constraints.
The kesa, the outer garment worn by Japanese Buddhist monks, imposes on its maker many restrictions. It must be quadrilateral, composed of cloth or paper (recalling the shreds and patches worn by the historical Buddha), and composed in columns (usually seven), framed by a border with mitered corners. There are often six additional blocks placed here and there, ostensibly to strengthen the garment, but really because another rule creates another opportunity for beauty. Read the rest of this entry »
Activist Art, Architecture, Art Fairs, Ceramics, Collage, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Public Art, Sculpture, Street Art, Textiles, Video
Theaster Gates. “The Anthem of Mu,” 2015.
Performance on the Bosphorus for “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”/Photo: Mehmet Girgin
By Mariam Al Askari
“Guglielmo Marconi said every sound we ever make is still out there. Once generated, it fades but never dies away completely.” This idea not only encapsulates the work by Susan Philipsz for which it was written—the work features sounds of dripping water and underwater beacons—but also the 2015 Istanbul Biennial as a whole, which features countless artists and other collaborators, several of which hail from Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »
Manish Nai. “Untitled,” 2015
Dyed burlap, 90″ x 4″
The work of Mumbai-based Manish Nai makes a viewer reconsider the limits of an artistic medium. He doesn’t use traditional media, such as heavy metals and wood, oil or acrylic. Instead, Nai uses everyday materials—cardboard, jute, newspaper and even his family’s used clothing—to sculpt, mark and render.
For his first solo exhibition in the United States, Nai has created wall hangings, photographic prints, sculptures and four site-specific works, including a gallery pillar wrapped in jute, a burlap-like material that is abundant in India, and a heat-transferred mural that will slowly disappear during the course of the exhibition. His use of traditional artistic processes, such as weaving or drawing and sculpting by hand, in conjunction with contemporary rendering techniques borrowed from digital and new media art, design and architecture give these objects a surprising new dynamism. By combining the old and the new, Nai’s work is thoroughly international even as it remains fully Indian.
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Frances F. Denny. “Across the Universe,”
archival pigment print, 32″ × 21″
“We can all be feminists,” is the emerging motto of today’s feminism, and it rings clear in “Feminism (n.): Plural,” curated by recently appointed director Claudine Isé. The exhibition was inspired by Roxane Gay’s 2014 book “Bad Feminist.” She proclaims, “When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” The exhibition displays a range of issues pertinent to women today, across borders, race, age and personal experience. Read the rest of this entry »
Women from the Maisha Collective pose with their new jewelry designs made with Chicago designer Lagi Nadeau
Local fashion designer Lagi Nadeau has partnered with Heshima Kenya—an organization devoted to bettering the lives of young refugee women of Africa—to create a collaborative jewelry line together. Nadeau traveled to Kenya to mentor and work with forty teenage girls and bring her design concepts to life using the long flowing colorful handmade and dyed scarves from the girls of the Maisha Collective. Over the span of one week, Nadeau and the girls created seven designs that launch today on Etsy and will be sold with a majority of the proceeds going back to funding the various programs Heshima offers.
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Assaf Evron. “Untitled (Athens and Oraibi)”
In this compact exhibition curated by Allison Glenn, landscape serves as a metaphorical ground for four artists’ expansive manipulations of imaginary sites. Each of the works evince traces of fragmentation, collapse and compression, processes that appear here as gestures enacted on sites that are more the spaces of memory and history than they are physical terrains. Read the rest of this entry »
“White Tara Painting,”
Western Tibet, sixteenth-seventeenth-century
painting on cloth, University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology
Koelz Collection of Himalayan Art, Koelz 17458 [K569]
“If you find Buddhist art in a monastery, take it” might well have been an early twentieth-century variation on the koan made famous by Sheldon Kopp, as Western scholars scoured South Asia for artifacts. Gallery signage tells us that what Professor Giuseppe Tucci (1894-1984) called a garbage dump, local monks considered a repository of sacred relics. Shame on him, but without his acquisition, four magnificent eleventh-century folios would not now be showing at the Block Museum. And they really have the sharp perfection of world-class illumination and calligraphy. Then there was Walter Koelz (1895-1989), a zoologist at the University of Michigan who collected whatever caught his eye. At the Likir monastery, he proudly bargained down the price on two seventeenth-century painted fabrics. Without them, the third, left behind, could no longer perform a ritual function. They don’t kick you in the gut like the dharma-defender hanging nearby, but Koelz’s Buddhist divinities have plenty of grace and power one would not experience without his questionable efforts. Such appropriation by Western collectors is one thing that may happen to sacred art, centuries after it was made. Alternatively, these works could be collected by devotees, where they might influence the art and religious practice of other lands. Those are some of the rather predictable kinds of stories this exhibition tells about the legacies of Buddhist art from Kashmir. Read the rest of this entry »
Anna Kunz. “Peel,” latex on all and fabric, latex and enamel on canvas
As evinced by the prevalence of “Zombie Formalism,” abstraction is currently coasting: reanimating movements without contributing new ideas. Paintings by Michelle Bolinger, Samantha Bittman and Anna Kunz are a refreshing contrast to lifeless painting that threatens visual communication itself in a hunger for conceptual novelty. Together they confirm that a voice can still be found in purely formal painting about the process of abstraction itself. Read the rest of this entry »