Art at Morton College. Erin Hayden

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Erin Hayden received BS in art education and studio arts from Illinois State University and is a current MFA candidate in Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

My paintings hover in the space between pictorial representation and the actuality of the painting as object. Through the use of paint, papers, and fabrics, I create spaces where the identities of materials shift and merge into one another while also conforming to pictorial representation. My paintings directly link to image matter that has a place within the history of painting, depicting commonly known images that can be identified by a wide range of audiences. I am engaging a long tradition of painting still life objects, landscapes, animals, etc., while also highlighting the materiality of the paintings as objects.

By choosing common image types, I am able to push paint and material to its limits in a variety of ways while still conforming to the conventions of picture making. The collaged areas bring a direct representation of the subject, and in some instances, the materials transform identities. For instance colorful dresses become tulips, cookies form the backside of a dog, or a night sky is transformed into a mountain. The paintings deliver instances where the image coheres and yet falls apart as the different materials become apparent. The paint density also plays an important role in asserting the fluctuation between image and object. Washy areas of paint are used to create infinite space, opaque paint makes flat assertions of surface, and thick impasto paint enters into the viewer’s physical space. With this layering and absence of different materials, I want to question our everyday visual experiences in hopes of bringing to light the phenomenon of simply looking.

Erin’s work will be up from November 3rd through December 19th.
Morton College is located on 3801 S Central Ave, Cicero, IL 60804 Building C, first floor across from the Book Store.

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Curated by Diana Gabriel


Cultivating an Art Scene at Pig and Weasel

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D and Na at Pig and Weasel
D and Na at Pig and Weasel

On the Mend Film Festival was a fusion between short, indie film and contemporary art at the Pig and Weasel in Evanston last weekend. The idea spawned from a conversation I had with P&W co-founder, Todd Rogers, at the rehearsal dinner for Dimitri Moore’s marriage to Naomi Hill. We were in the midst of the most expensive presidential campaign in history and shared the feeling that friendships, families and social constructs were coming apart at the seams. I told him about my film and he mentioned wanting to host a film festival at his venue. He and his wife, Monica Kass Rogers gave Diana and I free rein to curate a show around the theme of mending.

Familia Bom Brill screened with Black ink on Rice Paper by Thavary Krouch and (Super)Dan by Tim Tamisiea. All three films dealt with wounded protagonists that each healed in their own way. The artwork came from Diana’s friends that use content, medium or process to reflect on the past, tear down old constructs and resolve conflicts. Under one roof in Chicago’s north suburbs, patrons found contemporary work from Chicago, Bloomington, DeKalb and West Chicago with films that represent/portray Hollywood, New York, Las Vegas, Cambodia, Colombia and Nebraska. It was an eclectic show but, more importantly, it brought together networks and ideas that move toward a common goal.

Mario Contreras, Tim Tamisea (skyped,) Thavary Krouch and moderator, Joel McGinty
Mario Contreras, Tim Tamisea (skyped,) Thavary Krouch and moderator, Joel McGinty

Diana and I approached the curation differently but both with similar intentions. We both pulled from content that we’d watched develop over the years from artists that we stay connected to through personal connections… friends. One place where we differ is on whether to include our own work. As a filmmaker, I struggle to see film festival submission fees as anything more than a gamble at this point so if there’s a chance to put my film in front of an audience, I’ll take it. No shame in my game. Diana’s approach is more generous. If there’s empty wall space, she’d rather give her friends a chance to let their work speak for her. Either way, the important thing is to give a boost to artists around us because a rising tide lifts all ships.

Friends Curating Friends, a recent article in New City Art puts our little shindig in a box of incestuous blemishes that are a sign of “a gallery scene in eternal puberty.” Pedro Vélez implies that small, alternative spaces are a burden because too many of his friends have shows on the same night and it’s painful for him to drive around the city to see them all. I see alternative spaces like Pig and Weasel as bubbles of activity in a kettle that’s about to boil, pulling networks together in the vacuum left by the last, popped bubble. As co-owners Todd and Monica Rogers say, it’s where ideas pop and dreams fly.

I don’t really have a problem with being generous when returning favors. Neither with the reasoning behind building incestuous art communities—everyone does what they must to survive… But in a small gallery scene like Chicago’s, these types of navel-gazing endeavors simply clog exhibition venues and make things predictable and boring. – Pedro Vélez, New City Art

It’s coincidental that one of the shows referenced in Pedro’s article is Plant Life at Western Exhibitions because the curator, Geoffrey Todd Smith, is a friend of Diana’s and plant growth is the focus of her next show; Rooted, Grounded. The show was curated by Angela Bryant for Design Cloud Art Gallery and it also features work by Benjamin Gardener, another friend of Diana’s. Maybe instead of a boiling kettle or pimply teenager, we can describe the art scene in Chicago as organic or grassroots. To tie this to the idea of mending, In Defense of Weeds has a list of beneficial weeds that can alert you to nutrient shortages in your soil. Are we witnessing Art Permaculture?

Networking by Anni Holm
Networking by Anni Holm

Paul Germanos diagnoses the problem and possible solutions that alternative spaces, like weeds, try to alert us to in a scathing open letter to Vélez. His solutions sound similar to ones that we and others around us have tried as well…

“The Chicago Problem” in a word: audience. The competition for audience here is fierce. Our schools produce more artists, and our artists produce more artwork, than we have interested curators, gallerists, collectors, and critics to engage. So efforts are made, ever more frequently, to combine artwork with food, and drink, and music, in order to appeal to a broader audience. – Paul Germanos

Lauren Turk’s artist statement says that mending isn’t always about bringing things together. Sometimes mending means filling the gaps. Maybe instead of asking audiences to make the “pilgrimage” to Chicago to see the galleries, we need to meet audiences halfway by bringing art to their neighborhoods like Pig and Weasel, People Made Visible and Best Friends Gallery… all friends of ours, btw.

On the Mend Artists

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On the Mend Film Festival is tomorrow night! One of the most exciting aspects of this Pig and Weasel event is that it pairs short, independent films with interdisciplinary, contemporary art. The line-up includes work from Jan Brandt, Lauren Turk, Juan Fernandez, Angela Bryant, Anni Holm and Melanie Scott-Dockery.

Anni Holm - Networking
Anni Holm – Networking

“There are enough things keeping us apart. We need more things that bring us together.” Pastor Corey Brooks

Mending is an active process that springs from conflict. The artists in this show each seek resolution in their own way. Some explore the medium in search of an existing, internal resolution. Others reach across different media to arrive at a brand new resolution.

They tear down old constructs and revive abandoned materials to build new ones. They see opportunity in the space between experiences and repurpose objects that we no longer value. By adding and subtracting, revealing and obscuring they reflect on the past and dream of the future. – Diana Gabriel

On the Mend at Pig and Weasel

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We’re joining forces with Pig and Weasel next month for the On the Mend Film Festival. It takes place on March 2 at 5PM at 8933 Forestview, Evanston, IL

Pig and Weasel’s inaugural film fest features MFA thesis films from Thavary Krouch, Tim Tamisiea and me, Mario Contreras. All 3 films feature characters that are going though some kind of healing process… all of which are just beginning. There will be a Q&A with the filmmakers and original artwork, curated by Diana Gabriel. Join us!

Tim, Maria, ThavaryHere’s a photo of Tim and Thavary with my mentor, Maria Abraham, at their thesis screening.