WBEZ | Art/Work http://www.wbez.org/tags/artwork Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Artist Deb Sokolow makes conspiracy theories come alive in graphic style http://www.wbez.org/content/artist-deb-sokolow-makes-conspiracy-theories-come-alive-graphic-style <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-06/You Tell People excerpt_Deb Sokolow.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/30138198?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p><p>At age 12, while eating lunch with her mother in a Washington, D.C. McDonalds, <a href="http://debsokolow.com/home.html">Deb Sokolow</a> watched a man enter the restaurant bathroom with a suitcase. Several minutes later she watched a different man leave the bathroom with the same suitcase.</p><p>“That,” she says, “Was a significant moment.”</p><p>Now a visual artist with an eye for hidden detail and an ear for conspiracy theories, Sokolow takes the comic book form – drawings and storytelling – and explodes it. She takes the form off the page and brings it onto the wall, creating huge narrative drawings that can fill an entire gallery, sometimes stretching up to 48 ft. long.</p><p>Her drawings are precise and even architectural. Her text is blocky and self-consciously hand-written. Her stories are wild and intricate.</p><p>The conspiracy theories she explores include both popular ones debated out in the world and those that she invents herself. To wit: A current piece explores the notion that the Denver International Airport is concealing an underground network of tunnels that may house the headquarters of the New World Order or a secret Congressional bunker; whereas in her 2005 piece <a href="http://debsokolow.com/section/30827_Someone_tell_Mayor_Daley_the_pirates_are.html"><em>Someone tell Mayor Daley the pirates are coming</em></a>, buccaneers plot to steal treasure the mayor has hidden beneath Meigs Field.&nbsp;</p><p>To some, the stories may sound laughable. In some moments they seem so farfetched and ridiculous they read like obvious works of fiction.</p><p>But at other moments, the work hits a nerve, and the&nbsp;way the story is executed makes you wonder&nbsp;whether your neighbor really could be a human butcher working for the Chicago Outfit.</p><p>As the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean the postal workers you see out your window aren’t smuggling drugs for a Mexican cartel.</p><p>Sokolow’s work is on display at the Betty Rymer Gallery at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago through October 15, as part of the group show <em>CartoonInk! Emerging Comics in Context</em>.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content-categories/96594">Art/Work</a> features contemporary visual artists exhibiting in Chicago talking about the inspiration and perspiration behind their creative endeavors.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Oct 2011 14:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/artist-deb-sokolow-makes-conspiracy-theories-come-alive-graphic-style Through primates, the evolutionary origins of war http://www.wbez.org/content/through-primates-evolutionary-origins-war <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-08/Exhilerated and Exhausted.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/28772707?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p><p>Today WBEZ launches a new monthly series called Art/Work, where we talk with contemporary visual artists exhibiting in Chicago about the inspiration and perspiration behind their creative endeavors. We begin with <a href="http://www.alisonruttan.com/">Alison Ruttan</a>, a multimedia artist based in Oak Park, Ill., who works largely in photography and video.</p><p>Ruttan likes to emphasize that she is an artist, not a scientist, despite her fascination with scientific inquiry. She jokes that she was raised to be an "artist anthropologist" by her social scientist parents who moved her to a new school almost every year. “I would have to figure out how to not get picked on,” she said about her childhood. “I was really interested in trying to understand what the rules were about behavior - and trying to fit in.”</p><p>Now, fascinated as she is by human behavior, much of her work is preoccupied with exploring what makes us uniquely human, versus those elements of our behavior which can be traced to our primate ancestors.</p><p>Ruttan’s previous projects include a series on primates <a href="http://www.alisonruttan.com/art.php?group=0&amp;item=4">photographed in human settings</a>, and an investigation of bonobos living in captivity who may be <a href="http://www.alisonruttan.com/art.php?group=0&amp;item=1">cultivating individual hairstyles</a>. But her most ambitious project to date is a photo series based on the field work of legendary primatologist Jane Goodall.</p><p>Goodall spent decades in Tanzania starting in the 1960s, observing the behavior of humanity’s closest primate relatives: chimpanzees.&nbsp; Among the things she witnessed was a brutal "war" between two groups of chimpanzees that had previously lived together as a single, peaceful community. After splitting in two, one group of chimpanzees attacked and decimated what Ruttan called “their former friends.”</p><p>For her series <em>The Four Year War at Gombe</em>, Ruttan cast untrained actors (and one performance artist) to re-enact scenes from Goodall’s work. Shot in a patch of woods in Oak Park and River Forest, Ill. the resulting photographs are reminiscent of the kind of dark, 19th century illustrations that might accompany classic children's fairy tales. The woods are dark and foreboding, the photos, haunting. Her images also take aesthetic cues from horror films shot with hand-held cameras, like <em>The Blair Witch Project,</em> and have the kind of size and presence one finds in monumental landscape painting or the stained glass windows of a cathedral.&nbsp;You can see Ruttan’s work, and hear her describe her process, in the video above.</p><p><em>Selections from </em>The Four Year War at Gombe <em>are on display at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago through Oct. 16<sup>th</sup>. Ruttan gives an artist talk tonight at 4 p.m., followed by a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. </em></p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 16:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/through-primates-evolutionary-origins-war