Sonja Blum works across multiple media including video, installation, writing, and performance. As both a cognitive neurologist and an artist, she explores a space between intuition, memory, and social politics, and contemplates how collective identity and modes of knowledge production are intertwined. Her practice asks how certain ways of knowing the world and the self gain dominance over others – and how modes of knowledge production are legitimized. The call for revolution in the form of manifesto has been a recurring theme in her work, as well as use of intuitive/ improvised movement to bring forward modes of knowing held within the body.
Standing in the Gap of the Here and In Between
In the Land of the Living: Notations of one thousand thoughts [….] of the here and in between. Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also the madness and folly. But I learned, this too, is a chasing after the wind.
Artistic interventions can bring unforeseen ways of thinking. From the melancholic gaze, and poetic gestures of art, the social and political continuum of injustice is put on trial. Through the emptying out of meaning, resonance, and significance, the image becomes something other and losses its claim to meaning. It is here in the gap created by voids of meaning and lack of truth we meet. And it is here, poetic gesture creates momentary loss of control and where new insight of reality can converge into un-thought configurations of reality. My work is about the historical presence of the now, about seeing the goodness of God in the land of living.
“Images of land and water run through these works. I am as the dry and thirsty land. In momentary loss I am breaking my horizon. This is nothing new. It’s always been.”
I have developed a body of work that connects my cultural background to the landscape capturing something of pondering the impacts of environment and politics. My work addresses issues through a filter through the Choctaw heritage of my mother’s mother, European from her father, and my father’s father who was a Japanese farmer-writer. My maiden name is Nakagawa which means middle river. I am standing in the gap of the here and in between.
I see paintings everywhere…I am intrigued with the state of pigments shifting slowly, undetected in its movements of grounds encased in oil. It makes me wonder what is caught in the in between Painting from a broken place. Hazy grey skies, stark and austere spaces. I hunger for God, and long for the peace he promises. I am the dry and thirsty land. As a woman, I struggle in what is expected of me. Dreams and longings shift within me. Beauty seems to linger everywhere I look, I see its evidence in a single leaf, a fallen petal, a broken branch lying abandoned before my feet. How do I describe? How do I let go? Lesson repeatedly learned and forgotten.
Jamie Nakagawa Boley is based in the Central Valley of California. She has exhibited in California and the United States. She is an educator who currently works for a university in California. She holds degrees in Art with a BA and MA from California State University of Fresno and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a member of the Mother Art: Revisited.
“Jamie’s landscape works are large in scale and require a great deal of effort to produce. The gorgeousness of her mark making and compositions, combined with the scale, make it possible for her to engage the viewer in an unusual way for the subject. Each painting can be extremely powerful despite their initial tranquil appearance. The viewer is attracted by the imagery and expressive application of paint but the works shifts to a more visceral level as you spend time with them.”
– Nick Potter
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.
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.
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.
Visual Artist, Musician, Teacher, Gardener, Thinker, Activist, Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Lover, Friend.
RAIN was born and raised in Chicago and is an artist working across Poetics.
Whether music or visual art, the intersection of social justice and spirituality is a thread that runs through all the disciplines of her multimedia work. As a teaching artist with students, from the classroom to the stage at the Art Institute of Chicago, she weaves a pedagogy with the same threads of spirituality and social justice.
Her paintings, prints and drawings go back over 35+ years and represent an artistic practice rich in ideas, content, creativity and authenticity. RAIN is also a founding member of the art collective Mother Art: Revisited.
Educated in the Arts at University of California, Berkeley, RAIN also holds two degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago — a Master’s in Art Education, and a Master of Fine Arts. She has served as a teaching artist for Chicago public schools for 22 years and as an adjunct faculty member in Art Education at the School of the Art institute of Chicago.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joanne Tepper Saffren has not followed a single path in her exploration and lifelong dedication to art. In the 1970s, she studied painting and printmaking at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles where she received her BFA in 1978. Upon graduation from Otis, she started a design practice in Venice, California. While working as a graphic designer, art director, and design educator, Saffren continued experimenting with alternate forms of making. In 1992, she moved her design business and her family to Folsom, CA. In 2012, her desire to make work that questions contemporary perceptions grew to her current full-time study and art practice. In summer of 2016, Saffren began a graduate curriculum at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Low Residency Master of Fine Arts program, directed by Gregg Bordowitz — a program that focuses on poetics and the positive empowerment of art.
In summer 2018, Saffren finally closed the 40-year gap from her BFA to MFA. Recently, through the making of upholstered work, she began questioning the word comfort and its relation to domestic bliss and the Anthropocene.
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.
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.