Author Archives: iwilso2

John Whitlock @ Chicago Urban Art Society


The works in Mirrored Infinity explore ideas of reflection, transformation and personal discovery. Drawing inspiration from Jorge Luis Borges’s short story, The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim, John Whitlock constructs broken narratives that reflect points of thought around existential and spiritual uncertainties.

Whitlock creates small black and white collages that are then scanned, and repurposed into larger mixed media compositions, stretching the boundaries of their original framework. Simple, familiar shapes are combined to create quasi-religious iconography; Gold is introduced as both a symbol of preciousness and an implication of age. For his video installations, Whitlock has run a video feed into an infinite feedback loop that he animates with simple camera movements, creating self-reflexive geometric distortions. The pulsing circular patterns and reflective mirror fragments manifest real-time, infinite transformation.

As the illusory literary critic in The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim might put it, Mirrored Infinity is a “detective story with a mystic undercurrent.”  It’s about finding yourself in the search for another.

Chicago Urban Art Society | 3636 S. IRON STREET | May 1 – June 27

Feminism (n.): Plural @ Woman Made Gallery

Feminism (n.): Plural

 Exhibition Dates: May 15-June 25, 2015

 Inspired by the writings of Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist), “Feminism (n.): Plural includes artists of all genders whose works ask us to rethink what feminism is, was, and can be. The exhibition’s guiding premise is that feminism is not a monolithic movement but instead an ever-evolving, pluralistic concept through which people of various gender identifications, ages, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds espouse and enact their belief in a just and equal society.

The show features work in all media whose form and/or content addresses feminism in daring, unexpected, and potentially controversial ways: for example, Phaedra Call’s neon-bright magazine photo collages, Jesse Harrod’s paracord woven sculptures, and Marjan Moghaddam’s war game style video blur aesthetic categories and create space for nonconforming gender identities; “girl culture”-inspired photographs by Frances F. Denny and large-scale paintings of Riot Grrrls by Michael Hubbard take on pop cultural framings of female experience; and a performance piece by Soheila Azadi (taking place on Sunday, May 17 at 1pm), an audio installation by Katrina Schaag, and zines by Maurene Cooper and Suzy Gonzalez explore feminist movements that take place in various cultural, ethnic, geographic and/or historical contexts. Works in the exhibition were selected by Claudine Ise, Woman Made Gallery’s Executive Director.

Artists in the exhibition: Soheila Azadi, Judith Brotman, Phaedra Call, Liz Cambron, Jennifer Casselberry, Creatura Collective, Maurene Cooper, Frances F. Denny, Danielle Dobies, Jeanne Donegan, Shannon Downey, Rebecca Ebben, Nona Faustine, Bridget Freeman, Chiara Galimberti, Sophia Gardiner, Rebecca George, Shohreh GolAzad, Suzy Gonzalez, Magdalene Gorecki-Eisenberg, Gabriela Guganovic, Jesse Harrod, Michelle Hartney, Michael Hubbard, Vivian Le, Ashley McClenon, H. Melt, Marjan Moghaddam, Carol Neiger, Hanna M. Owens, Wolfie Rawk, Macon Reed, Nancy Roberts, Nazanin Saremi, Katrina Schaag, Leo Selvaggio.

Unknown Conditions: Questions of Maleness @ SUGs


Eric S. Oresick (MFA 2015) collaborates with Woomin Kim (MFA 2015) and Kyle Nilan (MFA 2015), to frame an exhibition around questions of maleness. This exhibition acts as a proposition through which Nilan, Kim, and Oresick complicate maleness by highlighting, contradicting, accepting, and negating concepts in each other’s work. Maleness is a condition, like many, and while directly addressing maleness will provide a frame, this exhibition creates a unifying position: one’s relationship to the unknown.

Woomin Kim’s work can be understood as an unnerving exploration of knowing oneself through an examination of human material existence. Utilizing simple gestures, she is able to reveal deep concerns regarding our lives as producers and consumers. Tension envelopes Kim’s work, as one has the urge to position it as a foil to maleness.

Kyle Nilan’s output of drawings, prints, paintings, and sculptures have a meandering response to a male identity. The salon style display of his work mimics his studio in which art and artifact blend. Ranging from a drawing of wind chimes to a portrait of Hank Williams to his mother’s embroidered jean-jacket, an expansive showing of Nilan’s work connect nuances of masculinity.

Eric Oresick’s work addresses themes of alienation, mindfulness, and communication with objects, installations, and text. In this exhibition, caught in the thralls of the concept of maleness, a constellation of works including encased peanut butter, wooden blemishes, poems and cartoons, shape a tonality in relationship to his collaborators.

This exhibition hopes to create a productive tension that explores Maleness as a condition.

Review—Aimée Beaubien’s Twist-Flip-Tremble-Trace

Aimée Beaubien’s Twist-Flip-Tremble-Trace, open at West Town’s Johalla Projects (April 17-May 17, by appointment) disrupts the notion of the static photograph with an exuberance that belies the artist’s ability to consider her multi-decade practice as a cohesive evolution of the image in space. Beaubien’s photo-collage technique has been both disparate and sculptural in its many iterations, but this, her first foray into 3-dimensions, pushes her work with the constructed image into direct confrontation with possibilities and limitations of photography’s physicality.

A confrontation between object and audience is unavoidable. The photo-sculptures preside tenuously over Johalla’s intimate exhibition space—if not smugly, then certainly with an air of self-assuredness—each requiring a close inspection despite their clear frangibility. Photographs are scored into thousands of attenuated strips, woven, folded, mounted, hanging, constructed across axes to give depth and body to the found-furniture Beaubien uses to structure her sculptures. In Fret-foil-dangle-glow the artist considers the textural limits these objects can access. Photographs may be diffused across the bodies of these works, but the manipulation of their surface by folding, weaving, braiding, and intersecting parts into a whole creates an altogether new visuality—less narrative and more a discreet personality.

Varied in execution and structure, the objects range from figural behemoths, rising more than 6 feet in the air, to almost coy references to the domestic origin of these found objects, floral eruptions of photographic fragments from a small, dated vase. They are exactly what they appear to be and aggravatingly nothing like it; Beaubien’s success resides somewhere between her ability to meet your expectations while doing it in ways wholly unexpected. Perhaps most intriguing is the work chosen to open the show. Facing the door, almost creeping towards or poised to consume the vinyl title of the exhibition, Chitter-burst-tangle-swell is both of the wall and bursting into space. Organic, even parasitic, in its uneven and looping structure, it employs the entire breadth of Beaubien’s sculptural techniques employed throughout the exhibition. Occasionally an unrendered, readable image peeks out from the near inscrutable structure of photographic and domestic detritus, their particular importance unclear, but tantalizing nonetheless.

Johalla’s recent propensity towards the high-clarity narrative-based photography are pleasantly interrupted by Beaubien’s willful disruption in good spirit. Much is made these days of play—be it the tenacity of childhood’s wonderment or some reclamation of a loss every grown person mourns. The objects exhibited in Twist-Flip-Tremble-Trace embody this mode of inquiry, compounded with a meaningful inquiry of materiality and the image imbued with body and heft, taking up space while depicting it. Ultimately, Johalla’s space becomes a labyrinth through which one might find equal parts joy and confoundment from Beaubien’s frenetic yet effervescent structures. They are flora and fauna, saturated color and diffuse light, carefully cobbled together to defy our expectations of one veteran Chicago photographer.

Cosmosis @ Hyde Park Art Center

Untitled, 2015 Color transparency film exposed to the Advanced Photon Source Beam at Argonne National Laboratory, 16mm clear leader, oil, frame, Plexiglas, and flora from various sites Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago

Untitled, 2015
Color transparency film exposed to the Advanced Photon Source Beam at Argonne National Laboratory, 16mm clear leader, oil, frame, Plexiglas, and flora from various sites
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago

Curated by the MCA’s Steven Bridges, the group exhibition Cosmosis, on view through August at the Hyde Park Art Center, is a new and thoughtful chapter in the recent of explorations into the inherent relationships between science and art. Bridge’s show is the final entry in the Contemporary Art Council’s annual commissioning of an exhibition that highlight developments in Chicago’s contemporary art landscape through emerging artists and curators. Cosmosis encapsulates the particular character of Chicago artists’ innovative practices by tapping into the robust networks that connect local artists and the level of engagement with broader discourses.

The exhibition is part history lesson and part musing on the limits (or lack thereof) of the cosmos. Images like Jefferson Pinder’s star field map, Stellar Plane (2014) or Erica Bohm’s series of appropriated space polaroids speak to a desire for an expanded view of how we interact with the invisible world, in its minutiae and vastness. Jeremy Bolen’s installation, a record of his work with the Advanced Photon Source at the Argon National Laboratory, creates a conversation, continually looping through an antique projector, between the environment of the gallery, remnants of invisible light, captured through photography, and the physical world. The implicit relationship between the audience and both the tactile and elusive spectrums of our environment, grapple directly with the perceptive and prescriptive modalities being upended throughout the show.

Bridges claims to be conflating the shared methodologies between scientific inquiry, childlike wonder, and the human condition as they pertain to creative practice and cosmology. What is clear is that these fascinations are not the curator’s alone—these questions are fundamental to the modern human condition, and these are artists, and others, are experimenting in ways increasingly in tune with their scientific counterparts.

Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Avenue, Chicago, IL 60615

t: 773.324.5520

Liz Larner @ The Art Institute

Liz Larner’s current installation on the Art Institute of Chicago’s Bluhm Family Terrace modifies Chicago’s urban park landscape as much as the modern wing’s summit. Much in the tradition of her oeuvre, this installation is as much about the intersecting spaces Larner’s objects occupy as it is about the sculptures themselves.

The relationship between Larner’s two works is not immediately discernible. X (2013), a reflective stainless steel casting of a voluminous, crawling “X”, is slung low to the ground and curves in upon itself, interplaying perceptions of mass and weight with a curious conflation of space. Alternately, 6 (2011), Larner’s planar construction of stainless steel beams cast in tricolor shades of polyurethane extends into space, belying structures not visible, but anchored to the object. If you are unfamiliar with the terrace, one might not realize that the wooden platform supporting the installation is itself a part of the project. Expanding to fill almost the entirety of the exhibition space, it invites and complicates a close inspection of the sculptures in a reified environment. Both a plane on which Larner is plotting her landscape interventions and a performative threshold for the audience, the oversized ash pedestal magnifies a dialogue between X and 6.

Against the backdrop of Millennium Park and the metallic eruption of the Pritzker Pavilion, one feels both remote and microscopically close to the elements that constitute the landscape. The sculptures, like atomic particles of the built environment they overlook, magnified towards abstraction, are both part and parcel to the vista they command while being staged precariously on its precipice.

TODAY @ 2 — Aimée Beaubien in Conversation with Lisa Stone

Hosted at Johalla Projects in celebration of their current exhibition, SAIC’s Lisa Stone & Aimée Beaubien discuss the latter’s work.

Curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection (RBSC) of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lisa Stone’s research and teaching concern the preservation and interpretation of artist’s environments, collections, and home/studios.

Aimée Beaubien is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago. Her sculptural, photo based collages explore collapses in time, space, and place, while playfully engaging the complexities of visual perception. Beaubien is Assistant Professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her solo exhibition “Twist-flip-tremble-trace” is currently on view at Johalla Projects.

1821 West Hubbard, Suite 209, Chicago, Illinois 60622

Aimée Beaubien’s Twist-Flip-Tremble-Trace @ Johalla Projects

Fret-foil-dangle-glow, 2014, Unique collage with pigment prints, wooden dowel, plastic netting, and ceramic jug, 42 x 18 x 17 inches

Fret-foil-dangle-glow, 2014, Unique collage with pigment prints, wooden dowel, plastic netting, and ceramic jug, 42 x 18 x 17 inches


Aimée Beaubien’s work is consistently photographic in its barest form. In Twist-flip-tremble-trace, Beaubien reconsiders her personal snapshots with a constructive vigor, choosing to carve, disassociate, and collage her content to forms that teeter between physical familiarity and intuitive gesture. These cut-up and recontextualized source photographs, which include scenes from her day-to-day to travel images to rephotographed artworks, take shape in playful three-dimensional structures that then absorb and fuse with Beaubien’s found domestic objects. In tandem, the delicate collage objects weave and dangle with and from the stacked furniture — an unsure foundation.

Contact to inquire about open hours or schedule an appointment.

1821 W. Hubbard Street | Suite 209 | Chicago, Illinois | 60622

“Family Matters” A Conversation Between Leonard Suryajaya & LaToya Ruby Frazier


Leonard Suryajaya’s exhibition Different Blood Type ran from March 7 through March 28, 2015 in the Leonard Neiman Center Gallery, a part of SAIC’s Student Union Galleries. Join the artist in conversation with photographer and educator LaToya Ruby Frazier as they discuss intersections between their practices and the conflation of identity, place, and familial relations in the making of imagery.


Marzena Abrahamik @ Johalla Projects

Sisters, Marzena Abrahamik, 2014, Archival Inkjet Print

Sisters, Marzena Abrahamik, 2014, Archival Inkjet Print

Johalla Projects presents A l’ouest, its first solo exhibition of work by the Chicago-based artist Marzena Abrahamik. Showing a new series of photographs that considers her intimacy with friends, Abrahamik delves into different, increasingly refined parameters for making that mark a departure from earlier bodies of work that have focused on more marginalized communities. The exhibition opened on March 13 and will run through April 12, 2015.

In a wide context, A l’ouest constructs a photographic world without origin or end. All loosely autobiographical in their conception, each of Abrahamik’s images evoke more complex themes that include feminine identity and representation, collaboration between sitter and artist, and interpersonal communication. Each photograph included in the exhibition, in meandering succession, is the result and complement of its connection to the other photographs and their subjects. Simultaneously engineered and organic, they are not always immediately truthful, as Abrahamik intends to point to the broader characteristics of the group of subjects that emerge from the scenes she is simultaneously fashioning and illustrating.

Contact to inquire about open hours or schedule an appointment.

1821 W. Hubbard Street | Suite 209 | Chicago, Illinois | 60622

A l’ouest does indeed meander. Landscapes alternately impressive in their scope or immediate in their intimacy transition to highly stylized and posed still lifes and group portraits. Abrahamik’s skill and care in her image-making is undeniable.

A surprising number of works were included for a space of this size and the effect is one of saturation. Her photography, already vivid in its palette, is inescapable in Johalla Project’s space. It is both impossible to ignore the through lines weaving across the space, pushing against and cleaving to a myriad of narratives, or avoid falling headfirst into each large-scale tableau. The structural organization of her photographs, akin to an editorial sensibility, are directly discernible yet organic in the fluidity of their composition.

Johalla’s presentation is at once a visual pleasure but a feat to undertake. For such a small space it takes more than one go around.