WBEZ | visual art http://www.wbez.org/tags/visual-art Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Why it is okay for young creatives to leave the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-04/why-it-okay-young-creatives-leave-city-106744 <p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/112723069_0a19f3ee08_b.jpg" style="height: 488px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Adam Conolly)" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>These migrations all occur at once. Or at least that is how they appear initially. Whether is was for school or work or opportunity, they left in droves and it always hurt. Growing older is acknowledging and accepting the complications of life. We begin adulthood with hopes and aspirations. Aging is both the working toward and the acceptance of success and defeat. This is okay. It must be okay.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The great artistic pilgrimage feels painful because our identities are tied into where we live. Leaving here is like leaving your friend. We feel abandoned and left behind, as if we are missing out on something important. To leave is to reject what we&#39;ve always known. And when you live in one place long enough, you begin to adapt it as your own. I once heard that to call a city one&#39;s own, one must live there for at least seven years. I have lived here my whole life. Losing a friend to a move is a deeper rejection. It feels personal.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But really, the decisions others make are on the part of those who leave. They leave because they want to or they have to. Their identity is not tied to this place. What they set out to do in life can not be accomplished here, not entirely. They need something different and it is a personal decision. It is tied to their path and not the smaller things that we think it is all about. I have friends who moved out of the city for graduate school, for job opportunities in the fashion world, and to be surrounded by communities that support the sort of art that they are trying to make, but can not make here.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/post/41304262299/runner-up-by-britt-julious-you-either-risk-it" target="_blank">an essay for WBEZ&#39;s tumblr</a> earlier this year, I wrote:</div><blockquote><div>Chicago makes you do the work. I&rsquo;m not talking just about the concept of &ldquo;hard work,&rdquo; &nbsp;although that certainly applies. And I&rsquo;m not saying that Chicago is not great, or that it does not exceed stereotypes. But it makes you do the work. It makes you find the the things you want. And it makes you build these things, if you want them to happen, little by little. Chicago to me has always been a working class city and it is because of this idea that so much of what happens here feels like the result of a million hands digging deep into the work, getting dirty, and leaving worn out yet satisfied.&nbsp;</div></blockquote><div>I still hold this to be true. But the reality is that not everyone can or will think that way.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He made a name for himself here, but he left as soon as he could,&quot; a friend once said to me about the young and brilliant artist Angel Otero. What is so wrong with that? Just because one can make something of themselves here does not mean that they must always be here. The art we create and the lives we live should not be informed by loyalty to a sense of place. That can not always be the case for everyone. We are not all the same.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Because these moves often happen in our twenties, it begins to feel like everyone is making the same decisions for the same reason. But really, it is only because this time is one of change and transition. We are being confronted with a multitude of big questions and decisions. The answers to these questions that build and build within us must come to pass or else we will be left with the lingering of what if. One or two what ifs are fine, but too many signify a restless and unsatisfied mind. That must be avoided.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I am facing that as well right now, seeing it for the first time. It at times feels like an act of betrayal on the part of others. But it is because of this that I realize my identity is tied into this city, these massive buildings and decay and regeneration and surprising beauty.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This is also a time of identity creation. It is a time of identity manipulation and chance. To identify with only one place can be an individual struggle. What if this identity I have gained is not good enough? What if it is not accurate? What if there is more to be understood? In the end, this is what change means. We can not truly predict the outcome, but we can dive in head first and wade through on our way to a new understanding of ourselves.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em><strong>Britt Julious</strong> blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a> or on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 12:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-04/why-it-okay-young-creatives-leave-city-106744 With ordinary objects, artist Laura Letinsky instills - and questions - photographic desire http://www.wbez.org/story/ordinary-objects-artist-laura-letinsky-instills-and-questions-photographic-desire-96180 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-07/Untitled3_Letinsky_2011.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/36364802?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="451" width="601"></iframe></p><p>Historically the still life has been considered a “debased genre” – less important, say, than the portrait or the landscape. This hierarchy is reflected in the artwork’s sale price, with still lifes fetching less money than other genres.</p><p>There have been, however, moments in history when the still life has come into prominence. The 17<sup>th</sup> century, for example, when Dutch masters gave us opulent tablescapes overladen with oysters, ripe fruit and sides of meat. Or the latter half of the 20<sup>th</sup> century, when <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=wayne+thiebaud+cakes&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=j3AxT6yNJOjfsQKv2-iSBw&amp;biw=1600&amp;bih=655&amp;sei=kXAxT8D-Ion_sQLey7mLBw">Wayne Thiebaud gave us cakes</a> and <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=wayne+thiebaud+cakes&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=j3AxT6yNJOjfsQKv2-iSBw&amp;biw=1600&amp;bih=655&amp;sei=kXAxT8D-Ion_sQLey7mLBw#um=1&amp;hl=en&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&amp;tbm=isch&amp;sa=1&amp;q=claes+oldenburg+sculptures&amp;oq=claes+oldenburg+&amp;aq=0&amp;aqi=g10&amp;aql=&amp;gs_sm=c&amp;gs_upl=3384l3384l2l5348l1l1l1l0l0l0l0l0ll0l0&amp;bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&amp;fp=dab9654dde5ead8&amp;biw=1600&amp;bih=655">Claes Oldenburg gave us clothespins</a>. Still lifes catch our eye in periods of time when images of objects clustered together have embodied something about the current culture that makes them relevant and resonant.</p><p>Photographer <a href="http://lauraletinsky.com/">Laura Letinsky</a> thinks that we’re in another such moment where the still life is ascendant.</p><p>All you have to do, she says, is look at the plethora of lifestyle magazines stuffed to the brim with glossy photos of meticulously laid out, Martha Stewart-esque dinner tables and ads for shiny new iPods. Or scan countless food and home decor blogs that document every lamp, every refurbished desk, every jar of jam, every room arranged in pristine fashion. Right now, it seems, we really want to look at beautiful images of beautiful objects made for us to consume.</p><p>Asking why, and exploring her own love-hate relationship with these images of domestic perfection, are what have driven Letinsky’s work since she began making still life photographs in 1997.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-07/P1040497.JPG" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Objects in Letinsky's studio reflect the artist's preoccupation with all things discarded. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)">Letinsky says she wants to undermine and challenge what she sees as the “promise” of these images. Rather than show us a “cornucopia awaiting the viewer’s appetite,” she wants to show us the discarded, the spoiled and the left-over. In her images, flowers have wilted, drinks have been spilled, fruit has rotted—in short, the party is over. Letinsky wants to question the promise of perfection and possession held in not just still life photos, but in every photographic image.</p><p>You can explore her work in the video above, or see it for yourself starting tonight: Her first solo museum show opens Tuesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, as part of their <em>Chicago Works</em> series. She’ll also have photos on display at <a href="http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/exhibitions/feast/"><em>Feast</em></a>, a food and hospitality-themed exhibit that opens at the Smart Museum on Feb. 16.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/artwork"><em>Art/Work </em></a><em>features contemporary visual artists exhibiting in Chicago talking about the inspiration and perspiration behind their creative endeavors. </em><a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/next/all/292"><em>Chicago Works: Laura Letinsky </em></a><em>opens today at the </em><a href="http://mcachicago.org/" target="_blank"><em>Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago </em></a><em>and runs through April 17, 2012. The MCA is a station partner of WBEZ. </em><a href="http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/exhibitions/feast/"><em>Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art </em></a><em>runs at the </em><a href="http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/exhibitions/feast/"><em>Smart Museum of Art</em></a>&nbsp;<em>from Feb. 16 through June 10, 2012.</em></p></p> Tue, 07 Feb 2012 18:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ordinary-objects-artist-laura-letinsky-instills-and-questions-photographic-desire-96180 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