ARTISTS

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My current body of work investigates notions of liminality and hybridity of cultural generations through migration stories. It is an examination of personal and cultural identity. A sense of home, belonging, and Other are all a part of this inquiry.

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My body of work addresses themes of grief, exploration, memory and wonder.  Can the inevitability of loss be countered with a gratitude for a glimpse at fantastical possibilities?  I propose a rewrite of tragic and melancholy storylines into compassionate alternative narratives.

These narratives are composed in paintings, drawings, video and installations. They are comprised of a vocabulary of hyped-up color and gestural lines.  Bunny forms, light fixtures and plush furniture are recognizable imagery. These tellings contain a sci-fi element involving a consideration of a virtual reality where remembered but departed souls exist.

I teach and exhibit in the Chicago suburbs.

I hold a BFA from University of Notre Dame and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Born in Ukraine, Margarita Fainshtein earned a BFA from University of Haifa, Israel and an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Exhibitions include: Ukranian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago (forthcoming); Art Bank NS acquisition show (forthcoming); Chicago Art Department; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax; and venues in North America and Europe. Fainshtein’s work reflects the complexity of multi-cultural citizenship and immigrant status as it intersects with personal, political, and cultural relations.

What relation do political movements have with individual histories? Is there a global citizen? From Ukraine, I repatriated to Israel, and immigrated to Canada. I’m Nova Scotian, however, I have other cultural identities, which intersect and define who I am. 

Fainshtein lives and works in Halifax, Canada. 

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In my work, my desire is to bring the viewer into a space where they become open to the forces of imagination and spirit.  I believe art can transform us.  I believe art can take us to a new awareness, create new sensations and forms.  For me, the act of painting is an act of spiritual practice.  I enter the painting with body and mind, searching for the images as I wander through the canvas, or pick up a pen, or my guitar, or sit down and touch the keys on my piano.  I am an artist.

In my effort to create an environment that might induce AWE, I have not yet abandoned the figure in some of my work.  In the newer work, I begin to un-paint the paintings, creating work that is more minimal, and monochromatic. I begin adding texture, using collaged papers and hiding text into the work. These secret messages, these hidden words, parallel the silencing of our histories. In my desire to elicit a response from the viewer, I employ basic compositional elements of narrative; in abstraction, I allow the viewer to breathe in color, image and texture.  This allows the viewer to form their own narrative and thereby gain insight into my personal desire to bring forth the Spiritual in Art.

I am a multimedia artist.  I am a painter, musician, poet, writer and performance artist.

I am interested in the process, the process of Becoming, the process of Creating.

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Beth Iska is a Chicago-based multi-disciplinary artist.  Her research-driven work examines our ephemeral and relentless relationship with the natural world. Through unexpected visual connections, the human condition is examined through the ways we build, mimic and ignore nature. These dichotomies disclose relationships between human and non-human ecosystems. Her recent work questions the criteria of heraldry and privilege in the environment. She is a Teaching Assistant in Contemporary Practice at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Monica Guidry Kelsie was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  She is the wife of a Pastor and the mother of two young adults.  She is also a recent graduate of the Low-Residency MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Over the years, she has created art curriculums and teaches art to children and adults throughout Chicago. Currently, she is an art instructor for youth at Zion Faith Center Bible Church, and her classes center on interpreting scripture for connectivity and understanding.

Kelsie sees the world as a place to explore and discover, to demonstrate love, to provoke change, and to influence life.  In her work, she investigates the countless ways that everyday materials can contribute to her images. She believes there is always a story that comes from the process of creating, and she is constantly in search of new ways to demonstrate that process visually.  In Kelsie’s undergraduate days at Howard University, her work poured out a need for justice and love.  Today, her work draws from images of women she knows and women who inspire her.  Through art, Kelsie continues to reveal how she sees the world, as well as ask how things would change if love was a higher priority.  She believes that art provides the freedom of self-expression, liberation from the boundaries of a hostile world.

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She always wore her long silver hair pulled up in a bun at the nape of her neck, and as she spoke she would tap her long, crooked fingers together with the rhythm of her voice.  As soon as she began, the hard floor against my body slipped away, and I was transported.  I don’t know where she lived, and I can’t remember when I stopped going, but her stories led me through the cobbled webs of her life.

Storytelling is an art.  If you look and listen, my art tells a story.  It reflects my philosophy and passions, places I have been and things I have seen.  There is the trash on that beach that I couldn’t leave, the story in the news that I couldn’t shake, and the metal I found that fall day in the alley behind the studio.  It’s all there.  My art is a diary of my life.

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I can’t rest unless I act.

I am constantly trying to better understand—and if need be, reconfigure, subvert, or topple—accepted and repressive systems, ranging from the design of a street to the systemic oppression throughout society. For protection, I survive as a trickster, a shape-shifter. In my work I use deliberate, coded language, recognizable by various communities in my audience, as they experience and decipher it through whichever specific “perspective-glasses” they are wearing. For sanity, I often focus on the building blocks of my neighborhood. To date, I have changed the trajectory of a street; shoveled snow off over fifty miles of my neighbors’ sidewalks; created gathering places both complex and simple, wherein insulated Mormon leaders mingle with the disenfranchised; and written musicals roasting important artists who themselves lambast the art establishment.

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My work is situated in explorations of domesticity, labor, and translation. It is an examination of motherhood and through notions of care, service, weight, and absurdity. Relationships to process, multiples, connectivity, and site are present as I engage in multiple modes of making including embroidery, video, printmaking, painting, sculpture, and ceramics.

A current project, Mother Work/d, activates the language used in my home. This mail art kit is complete with instruction manual that will be distributed to other mothers. Embroidered phrases adorn brightly colored washcloths. Bold floral patterns decorate curtains and dish towels representing integral work ordinarily thought to be best accomplished when it goes unseen.

I am a Chicago based teaching artist that has been partnering with Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and Chicago Public Schools since 2004. Formerly a Program Manager at CAPE, I managed the multiple layers of a million dollar, research based federal grant. I developed and organized professional developments and supported partnerships for over 40 artists, arts teachers, and academic teachers, while working with principals and district officials.

I have exhibited locally and nationally; my work is a part of the permanent collection at the Library of Congress. I hold a BFA from the American Academy of Art and am currently a MFA  candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am a member of the Chicago ACT Collective, Mother Art: Revisited, Jahn Community Arts Council and Jahn Local School Council.

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I create mixed media work that is contemplative in nature and is about the connections we have and make with each other through objects and spaces.

I use items such as old family textiles with the addition of embroidery, paint and other materials or techniques to address the passing of time, the collection of history, the objects that we revere and the life contained within these objects. I draw attention to the holes and stains that these domestic textiles bear. These objects become relics, containers of memories, artifacts as time passes. I’m interested in creating reliquaries for these bits of common household objects that have collected the past, and have served us.

Kris Schaedig lives in the Detroit, Michigan area. She earned her BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit and is an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Erin Schalk is a visual artist and poet based in the greater Los Angeles area, California.  She has exhibited her work throughout the United States and Japan, including at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum of Art.  Since 2011, Schalk has also been an educator (pre-K through university levels), and she has taught Visual art, Writing (academic and creative), and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to students from numerous countries throughout the globe.  As a writer, she regularly publishes her poetry and creative non-fiction in national magazines and journals including:   Parentheses International Literary Journal and the Tishman Review.  Schalk also serves as the editor for Mother Art: Revisited Review and is a guest reviewer for Aji Magazine.  She has also had the good fortune to earn multiple degrees in Art, including her MFA from SAIC, and a degree in East Asian Studies.

Through visual art and poetry, Schalk examines a constellation of human concerns including interculturality, inherited traumas, and the communicative power of time, transition and silence.  She creates work that unflinchingly examines the darkest aspects of humanity, acknowledges admissions of loss, and honors the realizations born in quiet hopes.

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I am a Moscow-born, Chicago-based multimedia artist.  My work has been shown at numerous venues nationally and internationally, including international Art Fairs in Miami and Chicago, Berlin’s Director’s Lounge Video Festival, New York’s Red Shift Film Festival, Chicago’s Motion Graphics Festival, Media ART LAB segment of Moscow International Film Festival, where my work took second place in 2007; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago and numerous Chicago art galleries.

My visual language coexists across my live video performance, animation, video installation and immersive video environments that I create for art galleries, theatrical happenings and multimedia festivals. I combine vernacular visual elements with archetypal and cultural icons to create exquisite combinations of high and pop, classical and postmodern.  Whether it is a video, a painting, an animation or a design object, my work is baroque and provocative — it teases & questions, seduces & demands…ultimately, it is a delicious visual treat.  My work is preoccupied with creating and processing the image of the body and its multiple iterations: as a beautiful entity, body in transition, androgynous, animal body, non-human/post-human body, body visceral, alive and moving, the body of a monster.

Monsters inhabit the liminal world of primordial desire. They are embryos and embryo carriers. They contaminate each other with desires and diseases. I have perfected the deformities of their bodies:  bodies of beautiful others, human, queer and playful, yet full of spirituality. I want to create taxonomies of meaning that transcend the human condition of “new normal.”  Nothing is abnormal: extruded lesions, dangerous flowers of cancerous growths, mothered, aged, diseased bodies, bodies are loving and loved.

Through multiple modes of expression and processing of the image of the body, I am attempting to produce multiple modes of attention and evoke visceral materiality of digital projected images of androgynous creatures unfolding our constant condition of seduction, desire, intimacy, disease. Exquisite and expressive moving lines and reflections put the work into constant rhizomatic becoming, emulating human condition, contaminating, expanding contracting space and time, immersing and extruding, glowing and reflecting…There is no resolution in the infinite dances of the monsters/ “the others.”  The “others” are seducing and taking the viewer into the “other” side.

I constantly deconstruct and re-contextualize my drawings, but the form, the human androgynous form in transition, metamorphosis, transparency remains.  I am working on perfecting the form, its iterations.  Monsters are rapidly multiplying and I am attempting to organize them into their world structure.

The world I am creating is ambiguous yet resonating on multiple levels: through movement, line, environmental integration, media processing and deconstruction.  I construct and mutilate bodies. I am also connecting to my body and taking it inside out metaphorically. I muse with the idea of flesh, but I operate within the virtual matter. My matter is virtual but apparent through visceral movement. It is a vibrant matter, vibrant digital matter.

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Marika Whitaker is a multimedia artist living and working in the Boston area.  Her performance-based visual work utilizes map pins and thread, which evoke both the male-dominated era of exploration and mapping as well as traditional feminine fiber crafts like needlepoint and pin-prick imagery.  Her relational sculptures pleasurably explore bodies as texts and texts as instruments with strings to be played/with.  Her writing practice acknowledges the absurdity of the archive but nonetheless traces the shapes of absent [star] bodies, memory bounded by a dotted permeable line, temporary clusters of text-nodes that respond in real time to the emotional and physical bodies of inter-actors.

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Valerie Xanos has an interdisciplinary artist practice. She works in analog and digital media to create site-specific, immersive installation art within a particularly composed architectural space. Valerie also creates in the media of paint, collage, and photography. Her current work, Exiled in Light :|: Never(W)here uses light projection and LCD installation to focus on personal narratives of the body, memory, and perceptual light shifts.  She explores light as mediated through a spectrum of materials, including fiber/acrylic constructions, animation, and digital processing. Various iterations of projected and reflected light investigate synthetic relationships within a constructed image/space immersion.

“I create immersive environments that are contemplative and trance-inducing in order to produce shifts of perception for the participating viewer. Animations and projections provide portals to sublime light and dark visions based on my experience of being exiled in an alternate universe which is both tragic and sensual, sinister and soothing.

My influences range from stories of magic and mythology, to sci-fi novels and movies, to physics – which makes me think about how light waves can harness a form of space/time travel. Concepts of falling into rabbit holes, being lost in fairy lands, underworlds, and alternate dimensions are used as a metaphor for alternative perceptions.”

Xanos is a faculty member at a Chicago Public high school art department and SAIC’s Adult Continuing Education program.  She earned her BFA and teaching certificate at SAIC and The Glasgow School of Art. She is currently pursuing her MFA through SAIC’s Low-Residency program.

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