Gallery 312, Chicago; 12 artists were invited to create mini-retrospectives on their entire range of work, including administrative, educational and other endeavors.
Artists: Edith Altman, Susan Bee, Frank DeBose, Elisabeth Condon, Ursula Damm, Michiko Itatani, Juanita Meneses, Claire Pentecost, Michael Ryan, Mira Schor, Buzz Spector, Amy Yoes
Edith Altman is a Chicago based artist and educator whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. During her long and distinguished career, she has researched and addressed aesthetic, historical, political, pedagogical and spiritual subjects using painting, photography, sculpture and installation. She currently has a retrospective at Lindenau Museum, Altenburg, Germany.
Susan Bee is an artist, editor, and designer who lives and works in New York City. She is co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artist's Writings, Theory, and Criticism, and has collaborated with Johanna Drucker, Charles Bernstein and other artists. She has exhibited widely and has received numerous grants and fellowships.
Frank DeBose is an independent designer and Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). He pursues an ongoing research project with the goal to present text and image compositions that illuminate historical events and points of view informing contemporary political/ economic situations of Americans of African descent.
Elisabeth Condon's paintings and collaborative projects explore childhood's influence on adult experience. Her subject matter of dolls has expanded into landscapes that combine cultural detritus such as toys and tires with gestural movement and a strong sense of light. Condon, Assistant Professor in Painting at Univ. of South Florida in Tampa, holds her MFA from SAIC. She lives and works in Tampa, FL and Brooklyn, NY.
Ursula Damm is a new media artist whose work traces and instigates the development of patterns in human language and motion. She has exhibited internationally and teaches at the Media Academy Cologne, Germany.
Michiko Itatani's conceptual paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is a professor at the SAIC, and currently has a mid-career retrospective exhibition at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, in Sedalia, Missouri.
Juanita Meneses completed a post baccalaureate at the SAIC and will be a graduate student at CalArts, CA, after spending a year in Madrid, Spain. In her work, she maps her experiences as a migrant between the cultures of South America, North America and Europe.
Claire Pentecost, an Assistant Professor at the SAIC, has exhibited her photographs and sculptural installations in the U.S., Europe and South America. Her most recent work investigates the corporate control of our food system. She has published fiction and art criticism and produced interviews and reviews for radio.
Michael Ryan is an artist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the SAIC, who also oversees the Cooperative Gallery Program. He creates large-scale drawings and installations that map aspects of his life.
Mira Schor is a painter and writer. She is the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, and the co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists' Writings, Theory, and Criticism. A recipient of a 1992 Guggenheim Fellowship in painting and also of the 1999 College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism, she teaches at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Buzz Spector, co-founder of the Chicago based magazine WhiteWalls, is an artist and critical writer whose artwork has been shown nationally in museums and galleries. His work makes frequent use of the book, both as subject and object, and is concerned with relationships between public history, individual memory, and perception. He is professor and chair of the Department of Art at Cornell University.
Amy Yoes is a New York based painter and SAIC alumna, who explores decorative forms found in high and in low art, and also uses photography, installation, and sculpture. Her work is represented by Stefan Stux Gallery, New York. She has recently received a Pollock-Krasner grant.
Exhibition Statement for “Retrospectives”
Again here, as in other exhibitions that I have organized or co-organized before, I am interested in the idea of a field. A field can be experienced from within, but to survey a field, one has to step back to take a birds-eye view. That view allows us to consider the elements that constitute it in their relation to each other. Previous shows looked at the field extending between viewer and art object, at the field reaching from formal to relational artwork, and at fields that are created by artists who collaborate.
This show is called “Retrospectives,” and in its framework 12 artists were invited to produce surveys over their life’s work up to now, in any way they saw fit. Each artist worked with different parameters, plotting routes through archives and memories. I am hoping that for each participating artist a map can emerge that will allow viewers to navigate the artists’ extended landscape of research and of exploration.
Visual and literal disciplines, images and words encompass the field of representation and the artists in this show work across its full range. What they have in common is that they work in more than one medium or in more than one manner. They may combine work in the fine arts, in design, and in the humanities, work collaboratively, as curators or individually; they use traditional, performative and electronic media, or they integrate educational and artistic ventures. They are painters, writers and sculptors. They are teachers, editors, designers, lecturers, filmmakers, photographers, and they are all of that in various combinations. A few also have an affinity for mapping, and most travel quite a bit.
Among other things, I was curious to learn if these artists perceive their activities as homogeneous or as separate, if they see intrinsic relations, feel a need to create connections or if they, on the contrary, strive to preserve or to insert separations, for example between painting and writing, between individual and collaborative work, or between work in the classroom, in the studio and in social and political contexts.
Artists who work like that are hard to pin down – they resist traditional models of categorization, and it can be difficult to find out just what they are up to when one encounters just one facet of their occupations. I wanted to find out how they have developed positions, and if working in an array of modes helps them to make sense. I am interested to learn about the artists’ point of view, to share in the process as seen by the person who generates it.
Each time we present it, we edit our biography to support the current circumstance, anticipating what is still to come. These retrospectives are far from final. They should be seen as serving future work. I hope that the artists in this show can use this opportunity to address questions they may have of themselves. These questions may overlap with mine, but I do not take that for granted.
With this exhibition I would like to put forward a contribution to the ongoing discussion about the role of the artist. Under the umbrella of the term artist we may not have one distinct line of work, but a field of professions that embraces various combinations of media, of visual and of literal emphases, of thinking, of writing, and of doing. We may not have one linear record that leads from highlight to highlight, but several peripheral histories that are as of yet seldom acknowledged in partnership with each other. What can emerge if they are presented jointly is a fresh ground, a dialogue among a multitude of meanings. Within this dialogue, the broad realm of representation is activated and composed.
In a field, the elements that constitute it are considered in their relation to each other. By shifting attention from the highlights to an entire body of work, underlying conventional and ground-breaking frameworks of meaning can reveal themselves. It seems most important to me that we become aware of the foundations of our values, be they traditional, personal or reasoned, as artists and in any other context. A retrospective is one tool that can serve this purpose.
I trust that the devices the artists in this show have put forth will permit us to see figures that have so far been hidden from view, and that they will inspire many fruitful connections and associations.