Posts By: Studio Assistant

Member Interview Series: Osée Obaonrin

2020/21 Spudnik Fellow Osée Obaonrin

Osée Obaonrin is a multidisciplinary artist who has worked in poetry, fibers, and most recently print. Originally from the Republic of Benin, she grew up in the DC area and currently resides in Chicago. Obaonrin focuses on the documentation of grief, mourning, and the self. She attempts to reconcile with the losses that have opened her to grief, the pain that has come along with it, and perhaps find hope as a means of resistance. She was also a 2020/21 Spudnik Press Fellow, where she focused on screenprinting. 

Obaonrin was interviewed by Mariah Joyce as part of her summer 2021 internship with Spudnik Press Cooperative. Mariah is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and current MFA student in Printmedia at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mariah has a background in journalism and philosophy, and her artistic work is a tool through which she processes personal questions of meaning, identity, and interpersonal connection.


Mariah Joyce (MJ): You were a guest a few months ago on “Inside the Edition,” the Chicago Printers Guild podcast, and talked about coming to print relatively recently. I’m curious how that happened. Has working in print changed how you express yourself at all, or is there anything that you’ve discovered about what you can say in that medium that you had to say differently in another one?

Osée Obaonrin (OO): I used to write more than anything else. That’s kind of the conversation I have now: I don’t really write anymore, but I still want to call myself a writer, still want to be attached to this idea of being a poet, and I think that’s my first love. When you define poetry, it’s very much trying to express yourself with as few words as possible. But oftentimes it doesn’t feel like it’s very literal even if the words are very literal because there’s kind of a gap. When we remove the traditional rules of structure and grammar, we relate to the words in a different way, the meanings feel abstracted, because we’re not used to pure minimalism as a form of clarity.

And since I’ve started making prints, I’ve never printed anything very figuratively. It’s still very abstract, and it’s still about creating that essence of the feeling through imagery, and so I think in that way it relates. But print gives me the physicality that writing gave me because I loved doing it by hand, but not in a full body sense, and that’s why I’ve enjoyed print. I also think there’s a nice visual quality to having a stencil on a screen or a burned screen and having that transfer, and it’s really quite satisfying to see ink on paper. 

Work-in-progress screenprint on fabric for HATCH survey group show

MJ: I feel the same way. Especially when it’s not a one-to-one where you’re painting with ink. It’s a transfer so it feels more like a process of discovery. Then you figure out what you just did. 

I noticed there is still language incorporated in some of your prints and visual art. Do you find yourself gravitating towards images and words to express different ideas, or do you think they’re different ways of expressing the same idea? 

OO: That’s actually an excellent question. Am I really saying the same thing over and over again, or am I trying to figure out different things? And I think, both? I’m trying to figure out the same thing, which is me. But there’s different aspects of me, and there’s different ways in which I’ve grown to exist, on my own but also through interacting with other people, so I have different questions about that. But at the end of the day, the core is just who I am and the question of exploring these different relationships.

MJ: And that process of self-discovery, did that start with the language and over time move into the visual stuff, or are they separate, doing different things?

OO: They’re not separate, they’re not doing different things. I think it did start with language. I was drawing and doodling all through childhood, but one of the first ways I understood myself and self-expression was through writing. Like this is very much my home. And then I was able to, through print work and also just visual work after that, shape what it is that I’m really trying to say about myself. It’s a little weird thinking about it now. Like maybe print is a little less freely expressive. There’s a lot of editing in the way that it works, and I try to remove as much editing as possible in the way that I print, but at the same time there is still planning that is involved in the process. That’s a new concept I’m kind of figuring out. 

MJ: I think that makes a lot of sense. In writing, especially in poetry as I understand it, there’s actually so much editing work in the background that you just never see, and so it’s interesting to think about printmaking as also a process of editing. It’s an interesting connection.

OO: And I think printmaking starts with the editing. With writing you could write all the words that you want and then afterwards you have to go in and reduce or add or expand, whereas with print work you’re editing through the whole process. You do have to edit out and choose a thing and go from there, and I think maybe in poetry and the written word your brain is doing that automatically. 

Test screenprint on paper for HATCH survey group show

MJ: And it’s interesting to also think about how pure medium, time, and material constraints go into that, because I think you’re right – if you were writing, obviously there’s still effort, but the amount that you lose by just spitballing a bunch of ideas versus burning every screen that you came up with an idea about is just so different. 

OO: Yeah, and so then in a way printmaking can also be more frustrating too, like, I failed and I wasted all the paper, and the inks, and the time.

MJ: In your artist statement, you talk about your work as a means of understanding yourself, and processing grief and loss. Do you think that it helps you understand those experiences or make peace with them, or is it not really about trying to do that, is it about maybe sitting with it?

OO: Yeah – I think there’s so much that you can never understand or finish. Like I think grief is something that never ends, so I think it’s a process of letting it happen, letting the feeling be felt and sitting in it, like you said. 

Obaonrin with test prints and studio experiments

MJ: Does that come to you naturally?

OO: It doesn’t sit with me naturally. I think that’s why art and writing and all of those are a safe haven for me, or have felt like it many a time.

MJ: That resonates with me. It’s probably not true for everybody, but I feel like it’s true for a lot of people who do creative things. I also noticed that you talked about how the more honest you are in your work, the more relatable it is to people. I’m curious, what about that relatability feels important to you?

OO: No one wants to feel like they’re alone ever – ever, period. We’re all trying to conform to be accepted, but also we’re all just learning social practices and cues, just like social norms. But also stepping into ourselves, and sometimes ourselves fit outside of that, so you have to navigate that space. I think that we all don’t want to feel alone. We want to feel like someone else is feeling what we’re going through because being alone on an island is not fun. And it also doesn’t make sense. If we’re all here and we’re all human and there are millions and millions of us, how does it make sense that I’m the only one feeling this way?

MJ: Are there any writers or artists that you remember giving you that feeling of, “oh, I’m not alone. This person is somehow vocalizing what I’m feeling?”

OO: When I was really young, as in elementary school, I remember Phyllis Wheatley always sticking out to me. She was a Black child who was enslaved and sold to a family who ‘experimented’ with the idea of teaching a Black child to read and write. Phyllis’s story always fascinated me, the first Black American poet with a published book of poetry. And honestly I can’t really tell you any of her poems at this point in my life. But I think it’s being able to see yourself, too. And I think I was really lucky in the sense that I was taught by a Black woman, I believe Mrs. Hudson, in elementary school. It was a Black woman teaching me about poetry and Black poets. At the same time I remember very vividly learning about Langston Hughes, and so I think it made sense to me that someone who was successful for the work that they did looked like me. And they were successful despite all of the things that said that they couldn’t be or wouldn’t be.

MJ: What do you think makes someone an artist?

OO: I think everyone is anything they want to be. I know a lot of people wouldn’t agree with me, but if you do something creatively at any point and you enjoy it, why not? You’re an artist, you produced something! All we’re doing is producing things. For some of us it gives us emotional satisfaction and release, for some people it’s financially how they want to exist in the world, and for some people it’s just a hobby. But if you’re doing something creative, why is there a barrier to say someone is an artist and someone isn’t?

MJ: Speaking of producing, what projects have you been working on recently? 

OO: I’ve been burning fabric for a new piece. I’m trying to see if I want burned fabric, or if I want to burn the fabric and print its silhouette.

Work-in-progress screenprint on fabric for HATCH survey group show

MJ: What is it that is calling to you about the burnt fabric?

OO: It’s hard to say, I think it’s very intuitive. One, I love fire, fire’s a very interesting object to look at. Also the fact that it exists and how we discovered it as humans, I think that’s really exciting. But I’m really looking at gaps more than anything else, because fire creates holes in objects. I think that’s probably the biggest thing: gaps between things and the idea of removal. A lot of my work has to do with my friendships and relationships, and there’s a parallel with this idea of removal and gaps and burning away. As we get older relationships change and shift, and I’m really thinking about that.

MJ: Yeah, it sounds like the space that absence makes, a little bit? 

OO: Yeah, very much so.

MJ: Are you making that piece for a particular show?

OO: Right now, I have the Chicago Artist Coalition HATCH Residency, so we have our ­­­survey group show coming in August–coming soon-

MJ: -a little too soon-

OO: -a little too soon, yeah, that’s how it feels. I’m making a new piece for that, and so I’m trying to figure out exactly what that piece is going to look like. 

MJ: Where else can we find you?

OO: You can see my work at the upcoming HATCH survey group show, I Sense Something Has Changed, which opens August 13 (opening reception 5-8 p.m.). I’m also excited to share that after promising to make an online print shop for about the last year, in August I’ll be having a print sale on my website! And you can find me on Instagram at @owe.sea. 

Member Interview Series: Holly Cahill

Holly Cahill is a Chicago based multidisciplinary artist working in painting, drawing, fibers, sculpture, print, and collage. Her process-oriented abstractions weave together elements of the fantastic found at the heart of our domestic and shared environments. Cahill received her MFA from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati and her BFA from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. She is the current Director in Chicago of Tiger Strikes Asteroid, an artist-run, non-profit network of gallery spaces with locations in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Greenville.

Holly was interviewed by Samantha Foster as part of the Summer 2021 Internship at Spudnik Press Cooperative. Sam is a printmaker pursuing her MFA in Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago.

Below is the interview that touches on community involvement, artistic collaboration, Holly’s 2018 residency at Spudnik, and her career trajectory.


SF: Let’s start with what brought you to Chicago. Why did you move here, and what made you decide to stay?

HC: I moved to Hyde Park with my husband, Zach, when he got into University of Chicago for his MFA. We love Chicago and it’s always a challenge to take in everything the city has to offer. There are a million things happening at once and I often feel I fall short on everything I want to be doing and seeing, which is to say that I’m very proud and grateful to live in such a dynamic and engaging place. Relocating to Chicago was tough in the beginning, just trying to find community after graduate school and not knowing anyone. That was over 15 years ago now.  It was a saving grace that Zach was going through his MFA program, so I got to meet all his colleagues and fellow students at the start of our time here.

SF: Community seems to be a thread that connects your work as an artist and an organizer. What does community mean to you and how does it manifest in your artwork?

HC: I think, community can mean a variety of things in different contexts. For me, being part of a community is essential. It has to do with considering those around you and feeling a sense of belonging to something whether it’s in the context of a print shop or an exhibition space and, as artists, finding ways to share our practices, goals, values, and resources. In any community, if we can get to a place where each person we are spending time with feels valued, then I think we can all grow and learn from one another through our involvement. I feel this sense of community as a member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid (TSA). We each take turns curating exhibitions, but we also collaborate on them and other projects as a group, which has brought us closer together in creative ways. We aim to be supportive of the artists we work with through our exhibitions and programming and consider them to be a part of the community as well as those that visit and are supportive of our program in other ways.

I’ve thought about community in terms of my own practice too. I refer to my collages as mimicking an ecosystem.  They contain scraps which originate from a variety of processes, sources, and points in time that are then gathered together in forms that more recently reflect on growth within a diverse ecosystem. In many of these works, I’ve been inspired by vines that navigate the shadows to locate other plants they can use as support for their development. I’ve also referenced roots in my work and the vast networks that trees, for example, form with one another underground. More recently, I’ve been learning about moss, which is a very ancient plant species that is incredibly adaptable and can serve as a protective environment for a host of other creatures like insects.

I’m always interested in the many ways we can realize how interconnected we are within our environment – how we can respond to and find meaning through those experiences.

Detail of Study of Thorns (unfurling) | acrylic, graphite, ink, watercolor and velvet flocking on paper mounted on velvet 36″ x 30 x 1.75″ 2020

SF: It’s great you’re able to make connections between your own work, TSA, and the organizations you’ve been involved with. Does collaboration impact your art practice?

In a way as artists we’re all working somewhat collaboratively by sharing our work, through our awareness of the trajectory of art history, and being influenced by those experiences. For the most part, my practice has been a fairly solo one while my curatorial work has been more collaborative. I have co-curated several exhibitions and find that a really generative way to be working in collaboration.

It wasn’t until more recently that collaborative elements began to enter into my own practice. A very old and dear friend of mine, Meredith Haggerty, started a project called Collage Stop. The first iteration was a workshop she organized at the Art Therapy Institute of North Carolina where she invited myself and another artist from the San Francisco bay area, Erin McCluskey Wheeler, to participate by contributing scraps to the event. The community from the area was invited to make work with our scraps and contribute to a fundraiser for a new program that they had been working on to support immigrants and refugees.

That was the first time I was part of something like Collage Stop, where I was giving parts of my work away for others to use. The funny thing is with scraps, the more you use them the more you have. Since the event, Meredith kept some for herself and mailed others to Erin and I. We have all been using them in our works since. Erin will often post images of her work and point out where scraps of other artists are within it. It’s fascinating to see a little piece of my work in hers. Likewise for my collages, there are little scrap pieces of Meredith’s painted gold, and Erin’s variety of different types of colorful marks. During all the isolation we’ve been experiencing throughout the pandemic, having their scraps to use made me feel a closeness to other artists working.

The experience also broadened my vocabulary which is something I’m trying to do within my work – to bring together these varied and rich surfaces, marks, and colors. Once I started working with their scraps I thought “wow, I would have never done this.” Working with gold seemed like too much, but collaborating with Meredith got me engaged in the ways she finds meaning within it. The same thing happened with Erin. There are certain colors she gravitates toward that I would not normally use because my color palette tends to be a certain way. This project broadened the way I was working and the choices that I was making. There are definitely some collaborative elements to that way of working even though I feel strongly that Erin’s work is hers whether she uses my scraps or not, and the same with Meredith.

Study of Thorns (regenerating) | acrylic, graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper mounted on velvet 30″ x 30″ x 1.5″, 2020

SF: Like a behind the scenes collaboration. It’s not the first thing you know about the work, but there’s another layer. You’re not necessarily saying “this is brought to you in part by a collaboration with Holly, Meredith, and Erin.” It’s more like, this is the work, which includes collaborative aspects that makes it rich and dynamic.

HC: Yes, that makes it all possible: shared resources. It’s similar to how Spudnik not only has equipment, but knowledgeable staff and printers that you can learn from when you are occupying that space together. I think art benefits from that kind of cross pollination. One of my favorite things is working alongside other artists and participating in that way of observing the activity around you that also allows each person to work independently – where we can come together and veer apart.

SF: Speaking of shared resources and collaboration, how did your Spudnik residency create new methods of production that helped you make discoveries, and do you still utilize them today?

During graduate school, I was very active in print, especially lithography. After graduation the idea of working in a cooperative print shop didn’t occur to me, and I didn’t have the equipment to continue making prints on my own in the way that I once was. Subconsciously it didn’t seem like an option to explore, so it took seeing the inspiring work that was coming out of Spudnik to get me back to print. Kelly Kaczynski made an incredible set of woodcut prints at Spudnik with Stan Shellabarger where she developed a technique with many pieces where they could be assembled and reassembled over time to build up the stages that appear in much of her work. Seeing Kelly’s work led me to apply for the residency at Spudnik. At that time, I had been deep into the development of a body of work on paper that references illuminated frameworks created with painting, resist, and graphite. Through the residency, I wanted to tease out the dense layers within that work.

Because I was just getting back into print, I thought it would be interesting to explore several types of processes. I used aquatint, sugar lift, engraving, and other techniques too. I worked with the idea that each plate was a field of activity and tried to rethink my process of layering. I was also interested in chance elements, so I was placing objects between the paper and plate too – different pieces of fabric, cut paper, egg shells, and threads. In the beginning, the layers retained dense space that was closely related to my prior works and I felt stuck. That’s when one of the other resident artists suggested printing off the plate. I tried that and it opened up and allowed this light to come in. All these layers were relating, but then I could build on that to create a matrix. I used monotype on some of them so there were continuations/repetitions of forms. It was satisfying for me because they were all unique prints but then they also formed one work as a whole when I arranged them together and continued working on them.

Shuffle | intaglio with monoprint, grid of 16 12″ x 12″ prints, 2018

SF: Having the other resident give that suggestion also ties into this shared space. Especially with anything creative, you can get lodged into one way of thinking and it takes someone with fresh eyes to give another perspective.

HC: It’s so true. I will be forever grateful for those suggestions. I think as artists we often want the idea to only come from us, but sometimes a little push from someone with fresh eyes is just what you need and kind of the reason you’re there to begin with.

SF: Your CV shows an upward trajectory. Were your achievements planned or did they naturally grow into further opportunities?

I think opportunities build on opportunities. The biggest shift for me was being able to leave the full-time paralegal work that I was doing and to focus more on my own practice. At the same time, around 2016, I was approached about becoming a member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid and it wasn’t even on my radar to eventually take on a directorship. Anna Kunz and Michelle Wasson were the first two co-directors who started the chapter here and got the program running. Being a member of TSA was an important shift in focus for me. I’ve benefited a lot from not only having more time for my practice, but also by curating and working behind the scenes as a member of TSA.

In terms of curating, my first project with TSA was a big one because I discovered curating can be a productive way for me to explore my interests with other artists while also creating a space where I felt I was supporting them in ways and growing in new capacities. This has thankfully led to curatorial opportunities in other spaces.

In terms of my art practice, I had been working in the studio in a very solitary manner for quite some time as well as participating in a few residencies outside Chicago. I wanted to have those same types of opportunities I had at residencies far from home, but in my own city. Spudnik was a big step to getting me more entrenched in Chicago, then more recently I was a resident in Hatch at the Chicago Artists Coalition. Not every opportunity is strategically targeted for a particular outcome, but I think as artists we need to be proactive and seek things out. These experiences have been important to my development, especially being out of school for so long. It’s like another form of education to go back and participate in these types of programs.

SF: That’s really key: lifelong learning. It’s so vital.

HC: Yeah, exactly. And to push yourself and reach out to people.

SF: Do you see any similarities between Tiger Strikes Asteroid and Spudnik?

I like to think of Spudnik as a role model for how it treats people who come into the space. It’s always welcoming and open, and that’s what TSA members hope for our visitors’ experience. We’re both non-profit, cooperative models. Our members pay dues and volunteer, which supports the space and is similar to Spudnik. The way we provide exhibitions for artists is similar. Spudnik is helping to support artists through programming, career development, exhibitions, and facilities access. Our facility is the exhibition space and we are trying to be supportive of the artists that exhibit with us. We also make time to review proposals or have studio visits with our members. These are ways we can be supportive of the members that are similar to how Spudnik operates – this interview for example!

Untitled | watercolor, ink, and graphite on paper 22.5″ x 30″, 2014

SF: I love seeing crossovers like that and how it’s mutually beneficial!  Focusing back on your personal practice, you utilize themes of shared environments and the natural world. How do these elements inform your work?

HC: I go for walks in the same places most days. I enjoy seeing how the landscape changes and what’s growing, what’s dying, how the light affects everything – whether it’s sunup or sundown, or midday. All those subtle and not so subtle shifts and trying to be present in the landscape is a huge inspiration for me. My walking time is somewhat exercise, but more like time to think, open my senses up, and observe what’s around me. I would say too that traveling has been really great over the years. Something that struck me when I was an undergrad – I went to Italy for a semester – was just how different the quality of green was there and how the colors would change so much. Later when I traveled to Japan and spent time in Kyoto, I thought about the possibilities within the space of the garden – many very small in scale while immense in the space they created utilizing distant views along the turns in the path. Though, I think my work currently is more grounded in my everyday experiences with the same places and seeing new things that come up that influences me the most.

Holly in her studio

SF: Is painting and print a springboard to trying other disciplines?

HC: My painting background is informed by my interest in a lot of other disciplines. I’m working to incorporate a number of different techniques like needle felting, hooking, various types of fabrics, and objects that can be manipulated are still like painting. Somehow the more I stick with painting, the more I am devoted to it, but I want it to incorporate all these other interests too. That’s part of the challenge which is fun and interesting. There are  always new things to discover. My love of working on paper and process is also connected to that interest in print as well.

SF: Your recent shows were fantastic – is there anything upcoming that you would like to share?

Thank you so much, Samantha! One thing I want to share is an exhibition I co-curated with Teresa Silva that is installed on the fifth floor at Mana Contemporary called It feels like the first time. The exhibition includes forty-six of our artist members across the country and is on view through September 30th with some programming to come. Teresa and I are excited to share the exhibition more in the coming months. Aside from that, I’ve been invited to make a piece for Western Pole, which is an artist-run space run by Jesse Malmed. I’m excited to be part of that program, which is just one of the many innovative projects he’s developed over the years.

Avian Oracle I, II, and II | ink, watercolor, and acrylic on canvas, velvet, hand needled felt and thread 120″ x 41.5″ each, 2019

The Hunger Will Wake Us: Hope Wang & Farnaz Khosh-Sirat

Featured Artists:

Farnaz Khosh-Sirat and Hope Wang

Dates:

5/21/2021 – 7/2/2021

Location:

Spudnik Press Cooperative

Events

The Hunger Will Wake Us | Artist Talk & Virtual Reception
Sunday, June 6
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Zoom Meeting ID: 9199 0613 028

The Hunger Will Wake Us | Artist-Led Gallery Hours
Sunday, June 13
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Press Release:

This exhibition brings together new print work from Hope Wang and Farnaz Khosh-Sirat, who each explore the translational process of materializing digital animations and poetry text into print. Together they reflect on events of displacement through the metaphor of simultaneously losing and finding new meaning and new form via the act of translation.

Hope Wang uses printmaking, handweaving, painting, and photography to reimagine spatial association and visual perception. Wang references the architectural landscape as a malleable document of visual language where building facades become eroded, redacted, and defaced. Farnaz Khosh-Sirat is an Iranian light artist whose work employs digital tools to enhance human experiences of the sublime. Through the use of Persian architectural structures and patterns, Khosh-Sirat personifies human fragility in the contrasting positions between man and nature.

By reconfiguring fragments of hyper-specific architectural details, their works become “false” copies and traces of their constructed memories. These palimpsests’ postures of longing aren’t just decorative, but also serve as coded languages of their own.

Artist Bios:

Farnaz Khosh-Sirat

As an Iranian who has resided in various parts of the world, I am curious about the nuances of sacred spaces in the shifting cultures around me. My work engages the audience in my exploration of spiritual truths, human behavior, healing, and human relationships to the sublime.

I utilize Persian architectural structures and patterns that evoke paradise, and through the use of natural materials such as soil, grass, sugar and natural dyes, I personify human fragility in the c​ ontrasting positions between man and nature. ​As questions about technology emerge from the use of digital tools to enhance the human experience in feeling a closer presence with the sublime, I also transform these subjects into animations and video projection-mapped installations.

As my practice progresses, I have begun to question the idea of paradise, and am invested in manipulating light within space to create pause and meditative room to celebrate an honest struggle with truth.

Hope Wang

My interest in reimagining spatial association and visual perception scales into observations of trompe l’oeil and its projected desires, codes of spatial authority, and more broadly, how people form complicated relationships with the structures of their daily lives. Contending with sloppy traces of human activity around sites of industrial labour, my work references building facades that have been eroded, redacted, or defaced. I use hand-weaving, screen-printing, painting, and photography to reproduce these architectural “scars” and patterns from common construction materials. By personifying our structural environment as something malleable and flesh-like, I examine contemporary conditions of alienation through mimicry and shifts in material reality.

Through the destabilization of surface and its assumed material conditions, my work questions familiarity as sincerity or as artifice. Engaging provisional aspects of architecture that embody and evade meaning, I am both the skeptic and the nostalgic body: one longing for intimacy and perhaps only finding it in the liminal spaces that belong to nothing in particular.

Image Credit:
(Left) Farnaz Khosh-Sirat, Leyl (detail), screenprint on steel, 2021
(Right) Hope Wang, the night croaked with the ache of cicadas (detail), paper collage, 2021

Portfolio Review Sessions with Claudine Isé

Sunday, April 25, 2021
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Spudnik Press, 1821 W Hubbard, Suite 302

$20 for Spudnik Press Members
Register Online

As part of our mission to unite our community of artists with art professionals throughout Chicago, we offer portfolio reviews throughout the year. Each artist that signs up for a portfolio review will receive a 30-minute, private review with a curator, educator, gallery director, or arts administrator.

This is a unique opportunity for artists to receive feedback on a current body of work or upcoming project, as well as suggestions on how to prepare for other professional opportunities. Participating artists should bring a portfolio of current work to share with the guest reviewer.

Guest Reviewer: Claudine Isé

Prior to launching the Chicago gallery Goldfinch which she owns and directs, Claudine Isé worked as a writer, curator, and educator in the field of contemporary visual art for two decades. Isé began her curatorial career as an assistant curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, then moved to Columbus, OH to become the associate curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts. In Chicago, Isé has written extensively on contemporary art and culture for publications such as artforum.com, Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Bad at Sports, and New City. She was also the Editor of the Art21 Blog.

She currently teaches in the Graduate Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and previously taught in the School of Art and Art History’s Museum and Exhibition Studies Program (MUSE) at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is the former Director of the Freeark Gallery + Sculpture Garden at the Riverside Arts Center and has a PH.D. in Film, Literature, and Culture from the University of Southern California.

Registration Details:

Space is limited to five artists. Advanced registration is required. The non-refundable registration fee can be paid online. Please register by Monday, April 19 and please contact staff if you would like to request a specific time slot. We will notify artists of what time slot they have been assigned by Tuesday April 20.

COVID-19 Precautions:

Please review our COVID-19 studio procedures before arriving. Members will meet in the Annex. Staff will sanitize surfaces between sessions. Virtual sessions on Zoom are an option for people unable to visit the studio in person. Please note that screen-sharing a website or digital images will offer better image quality than sharing works using Zoom video.

If you are not a member and wish to participate in this member opportunity, please join or renew your membership.

Skill Share Night #2

Thursday, February 25, 2021
6:00 p.m. via Zoom
Free for Spudnik Press Members

Featuring:

Every other month, members are invited to share a skill, process, or technique with their fellow members. Designed as a way to instigate organic “peer to peer” support among members, Skill Share events provide a platform for members to connect with each others creative practice. Demonstration are casual and conversational.

Presentations will take place in the first hour. Members are welcome to continue the conversation at the end of the official program.

Registration Details:

Please RSVP by emailing anders@spudnikpress.org. A link to a zoom meeting with be emailed the week of the event. If you are not a member and wish to participate in this member opportunity, please join or renew your membership.

Spudnik Press Announces 2021 Resident Artists

Spudnik Press Cooperative is excited to announce the three Resident Artists in 2021 who will bring new research, programming, and experience to our community: Alexandra Antoine, Mara Baker, and Aaron Hughes. The Residency gives mid-career and established artists full access to our studios for the completion of new print-based artwork, along with a stipend and support from our staff of professional printmakers. Each Resident also engages our community in unique public programming that is connected to their practice, and open to all. In 2021, we are investing in our immediate community of artists and welcoming all Chicago-based artists. In addition to these three newly-awarded Residents, we will be rescheduling residencies that were postponed due to Covid-19.

Alexandra Antoine plans to investigate diasporic foodways as collages of connection and remembrance. Focusing on okra, hibiscus, black eye peas, yuca and collard greens, Antoine’s project aims to create conversation around food traditions, cultural affirmations and self-healing.

Mara Baker‘s work is an extended meditation on the intersection of impermanence and regeneration. This residency will allow the artist to use the leftover residues from her installation practice as the base material for a new series of monotypes that echo the fragility of our material systems.

Aaron Hughes will be utilizing our screen printing and letterpress facilities to create prints for Autonomous Democracy, a project that explores, archives, and celebrates the history of temporary experiments in direct democracy within liberation movements.

Resident Artist Bios:

Aaron Hughes, March/April 2021

Aaron Hughes is an artist, curator, organizer, teacher, anti-war activist, and Iraq War veteran living in Chicago. He works collaboratively in diverse spaces and media to create meaning out of personal and collective trauma, deconstruct and transform systems of oppression, and seek liberation. Working through an interdisciplinary practice rooted in drawing and printmaking, he develops projects that deconstruct militarism and related institutions of dehumanization. These projects often utilize popular research strategies, experiment with forms of direct democracy, and operate in solidarity with the people most impacted by structural violence.

Mara Baker, May/June 2021

Mara Baker is an interdisciplinary artist who combines traditional fiber processes, found materials, animation, light, and video to create multi-dimensional installations, paintings and prints.  Her work is an extended meditation on the intersection of impermanence and regeneration. She reuses materials over and over, further connecting the work to the ethics of recycling and regeneration. Each project builds on the last, often deconstructing and reconstructing elements of previous installations and paintings responding to the architecture and context of each site or surface.

Alexandra Antoine, July 2021

Alexandra Antoine’s process begins with memory, photography and storytelling. She reflects on her time spent in Léogâne, Haiti, the birthplace of her parents, during her childhood and her time there as an adult. She focuses on the conversations she had with the elders in her immediate family where knowledge of lineage, wisdom and laughter were all shared with her. Traditional practices have lead her back to a familial practice she first learned through her maternal grandfather: Farming. Alexandra questions how the farm can serve as an art studio, and the greater relationship between food and art, and what that means for Black communities.

Learn more about the Spudnik Press Artist Residency

Image Credit (left to right): Details of “Cityscapes and Roasted Cauliflower” by Alexandra Antoine, “Chameleon Blind” by Mara Baker, poster by Aaron Hughes.

Shelter In The Speculative: New Works by Spudnik Press Members

Featured Artists:

Teresita Carson Valdez, Sam Hensley, Miller & Shellabarger, Yasaman Moussavi, Kianni Pleasant-Bey, Joshi Radin, Don Widmer

Juror:

Ruby T

Dates:

11/9/2020 – 1/9/2021

Location:

Spudnik Press Cooperative (Annex)

Events

Shelter in the Speculative | Virtual Reception & Artists Talk
Monday, November 30
7:00 – 8:30 p.m. 
Zoom Meeting ID: 966 4803 1564

Shelter in the Speculative | Gallery Hours
Most Mondays 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Most Thursdays 2:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Most Fridays 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 12, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. with Don Widmer
Most Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. with Sam Hensley

Press Release:

For the 2020 Member Exhibition, Juror Ruby T has selected artworks that have a powerful physical presence: works that feel like a form of shelter, or are an extension or impression of the artist’s own body. During the pandemic, and mass movements for revolution, this exhibition asks: What kinds of physical and relational structures will we need, or need to build, in order to survive? How will the warmth and softness of our bodies guide us? 

In Audre Lorde’s 1978 essay “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power,” she defines the erotic as “…a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire.” She goes on to write: In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”

Kianni Pleasant-Bey includes excerpts from Lorde’s essay in Fever Dream, a soft altar space rooted in protecting and nurturing Black femmes/womxn and all that they embody. Sometimes prayerful, sometimes geometric, sometimes grim, all of the works in this exhibition show reverence for the power of the erotic and the sensual to help us navigate pleasure, illness, rest, memorial, and violence. 

Like a body, an artwork experiences and projects a physical life as it moves through the world. Experiencing art in this time of pandemic, we can more closely approach an artist’s work than we can the artist. With their rich textures and tactile materials, the works in this exhibition are further activated by proximity. 

Yasaman Moussavi’s Revelation paper pulp sculpture references the traditional central courtyard of Persian domestic architecture as a site of spatial and social interactions, along with family correspondence as a means of emotional and social exchange between family members in and far away from home.

Teresita Carson Valdez’s work draws inspiration from translation as world building, the histories of cloth, the palimpsest, the creation of new traditions and archeological imagery as markers of temporality. Her screen-printed and dyed cloth sculpture, A novena for the plague, feels like a sacred object for private prayer, made public via the extreme circumstances of the pandemic, undergirded by the movement of bodies through global trade and displacement. 

Even when viewed remotely, these works still insist on an awareness of our own spatial relationship to the artists’ bodies and internal worlds, via the stand-in, or symbolic object of the work. Miller & Shellabarger‘s Untitled pressure prints show layers upon layers of hands, giving the impression of being reached toward, or beckoned. The process for creating these images relies on physical pressure or force to create this bodily imprint, underscoring the labor and rhythm of human relationships— a theme at the heart of this collaboration between the married artists. Their gestures shift between moments of togetherness and separation, private and public, protection and pain, and visibility and invisibility. 

Don Widmer’s Darkness and Light, an artist flag book, presents quotes by Etty Hillesum, a Dutch mystic and writer, who documented her life during the German occupation of Amsterdam and her experiences at Westerbork concentration camp. The harsh, stacked geometry of the black book evokes a prison cell block, rooting our current crises of incarceration and fascism in the historical. 

Joshi Radin’s CardboardRecord006_1, made from found packing materials and used clothing in infant proportions, feels like an ultrasound from outer space after the aliens got their hands on our cardboard waste. The print records the marking of an absent body, as both a unit and a package, on a horizontal plane. 

Sam Hensley’s Little Like Yourself presents an animatronic sculpture of a mythical creature resting atop a miniature bed, its breathing slow and belabored. This piece evokes reclaimed experiences of chronic illness and disability, in which rest may be proudly claimed and celebrated. Beds become more than of convalescence, but also soft zones of  pleasure and even performance—bed as stage, stage as shelter, shelter as communion between bodies near and far.   

This exhibition’s optimism comes from its insistence on human touch, physical care and pleasure, and the act of sheltering each other, as if to say: “Even during apocalypse, even when we must rebuild everything, we will still have our bodies and each other’s bodies.”

Image Credit, clockwise from top left:

  • Yasaman Moussavi, Revelation 2, 2019, handmade paper and screenprint (detail)
  • Kianni Pleasant-Bey, Fever Dream, 2019, mixed media (detail)
  • Joshi Radin, Cardboard Record 006, 2020, monotype (detail)
  • Teresita Carson Valdez, A Novena for the Plague, 2019, screenprint, silk, dye discharge (detail)
  • Sam Hensley, Little Like Yourself, 2019, animatronic sculpture and zine (detail)
  • Miller & Shellebarger, Untitled 2, 2019, pressure print
  • Don Widmer, Darkness and Light: Words of Etty Hillesum, 2020, artist book (detail)

Portfolio Review Sessions with Regina Martinez

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
3:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Spudnik Press, 1821 W Hubbard, Suite 302

$20 for Spudnik Press Members
Register Online

As part of our mission to unite our community of artists with art professionals throughout Chicago, we offer portfolio reviews throughout the year. Each artist that signs up for a portfolio review will receive a 30-minute, private review with a curator, educator, gallery director, or arts administrator.

This is a unique opportunity for artists to receive feedback on a current body of work or upcoming project, as well as suggestions on how to prepare for other professional opportunities. Participating artists should bring a portfolio of current work to share with the guest reviewer.

Guest Reviewer: Regina Martinez

Regina Martinez is passionate about artists’ support and collaborative tension. She is influenced broadly from degrees in photojournalism and social and economic development. For five years, she was Artistic Director of a neighborhood art space called the Pink House in St. Louis (MO). She is a collector of children’s artwork. She is co-creator of the clothesline (St. Louis)a monthly audio/visual installation alive for one night only. Most recently she managed programs with Threewalls in Chicago. She is currently working towards an MA of Sound Arts and Industry at Northwestern University.

Registration Details:

Space is limited to five artists. Advanced registration is required. The non-refundable registration fee can be paid online. Please register by Monday, November 30. Staff will notify artists of what time slot they have been assigned by Tuesday December 1. Please contact staff if you would like to request a specific time slot.

COVID-19 Precautions:

Please review our COVID-19 studio procedures before arriving. Members will meet in the Annex. Staff will sanitize surfaces between sessions. Virtual sessions on Zoom are an option for people unable to visit the studio in person. Please note that screen-sharing a website or digital images will offer better image quality than sharing works using Zoom video.

Place Your Bids: Our Annual Auction Is Live!

Browse Our Auction and place your bids by October 18th at 8:30 p.m. CST.

Collectors can bid on artwork across many mediums including prints published by Spudnik Press and a selection of exclusive cyanotypes, as well as handmade goods, homewares, and experiences. For artist-donated items, up to 25% of each final bid will directly support the artist.

As a vital support structure for printmakers, Spudnik has always been one of the most flexible and accessible in the country, with many doorways into our studios and many new projects using us as their foundation. This auction aims to raise $22,000 to support our ongoing work.

New Editions By: Antonia ControErin HaydenSteve Reinke, and Selina Trepp

Artwork By: Julia ArredondoLeslie Baum, Théo Bignon, Ben BlountLiz Born, Elizabeth Burke-Dain, Holly CahillZachary CahillZoë CharltonC.C. Ann ChenHyegyeong ChoiRyan Travis Christian, Stephen Eichhorn, Stevie Cisneros HanleySue CoeClaire DainCeleste DeLunaMatt DemersEdie FakeBill FickMarc BenjaTony FitzpatrickSanya GlisicAdriane HermanCody HudsonCarol JacksonJaclyn JackunskiVesna JovanovickgWon KimJaime KnightChad KouriDave KrzeminskiAbe LampertBobbi MeierBenjamin MerrittDutes MillerJessie MottJohn NeffErin Jane NelsonBetsy OdomJason PicklemanB. QuinnBrad RholoffTemporary ServicesMiller & ShellabargerStan ShellabargerVeronica SiehlHugh SpectorOrkideh TorabiLisa Vinebaun, and Toshi Yoshida

Plus:

Image above: Adriane Herman, Wreckage Salad (Low High Chair); 2017

With Renewed Urgency: New Editions from Spudnik Press

Featured Artists:

Candida Alvarez, Alexandra Antoine, Judith Brotman, Andrea Carlson, Celeste DeLuna, Brendan Fernandes, Azadeh Gholizadeh, Erin Hayden, Benjamin Merritt, Jessie Mott, Paul Nudd, João Oliveria, Steve Reinke, Joe Tallarico, Selina Trepp

Dates:

8/24/2020 – 10/31/2020

Location:

Spudnik Press Cooperative (Printshop & Annex)

Events

Open House
Saturday, September 13, 2020
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Press Release:

With Renewed Urgency is our annual exhibition featuring new prints by 15 artists, created through our Residency and Invitational Publishing Programs. This exhibition reflects on the unique power of a printmaking studio to breathe new life into the art making process, and how we depend on art during times of crisis for solace and meaning. Our title and theme With Renewed Urgency is also a chance to reflect on how the current pandemic has escalated already existing social emergencies that many of our featured artists have long been making work about. The call of Andrea Carlson and Celeste De Luna’s Indigenous Futurism rings even louder, as capitalism and colonization turn COVID-19 into an economic disaster. Others like Selina Trepp and Benjamin Merritt give us critical and pleasurable ways to reconsider what it means for an artist to remain homebound, reduce their material consumption, or need to rest because of an illness.

Other show highlights include a collagraph impression of the pelt of a plastic animal by our first international Resident Artist, João Oliveira, organized in collaboration with Comfort Station and funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund. The prints from Ten x Ten show a collaboration between visual artists and musicians exploring the translation of artistic gestures across media.

The Spudnik Press Cooperative Residency Program provides professional printmakers unfettered studio access for new projects. The Publishing Program welcomes artists from a variety of contemporary disciplines, ranging from painting and drawing to performance and experiential art making, to enter a centuries-old tradition of developing a fine art print in collaboration with professional printers. Through these programs, Spudnik Press invites a diverse range of artists to continue printmaking’s unique history as a fine art, a master craft, and a social practice. With Renewed Urgency showcases traditional process and new experiments in screenprint, intaglio, relief, collagraph, and digital printing, as well as an impressive range of monotype techniques and prints that used the plate-making process as a form of sculpture. By installing the exhibition throughout the printshop in which the artwork was produced, we embrace our goal of encouraging artists and audiences to move through a variety of creative roles: making, experiencing, learning, and teaching. Placing the artwork into an active print studio highlights connection among the creative, the analytical and the technical processes of art making.

Image:
Left: Benjamin Merrit, Nap Suite
Right, clockwise from top left: Alexandra Antoine, Nkrabea: A coming together; Jessie Mott, OF SOUND AND LINE; Selina Trepp, 7 beats, don’t want to do 8, it’s too square; Azadeh Gholizadeh, Memory Bubbles

Calling All Talents: Annual Benefit Virtual Variety Show

On October 3rd, Spudnik Press will be hosting a virtual benefit that includes our famous art auction and our first ever online variety show! We invite you to amaze and entertain our supporters from around the globe!

  • Think you’ve got the fastest squeegee chops in town? Challenge a friend to a print off!
  • Been perfecting your underwater basketweaving in quarantine? This is your chance for a live broadcast from the tub!
  • Have some other hidden talent, gift of gab, or secret passion that craves an audience? Bring it to life at Spudnik Press!

We welcome everything from world debuts to masterful crafts. Friendly rivalries, audience engagement, and alter egos are especially encouraged.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Acts should be 1-10 minutes in length
  • Can be pre-recorded or live
  • Can be done remotely or on-site at Spudnik Press
  • $40 Thank You honorarium for all performers

To apply, please fill out this form by August 16th at midnight. We will notify you by August 23.

Questions? E-mail Program Assistant Anders Zanichkowsky: anders@spudnikpress.org.

Drink & Draw [VIRTUAL]: Call for Artists

We’re seeking proposals for our Drink & Draw [VIRTUAL] series on Wednesday nights from 7:00 – 9:00 CST.

If you are interested in being a Drink & Draw Guest Artists, please email anders@spudnikpress.org and share:

  • Your idea for a fun and casual art-making activity that people can do from home using materials they’re likely to have on hand.
  • If you have prior teaching experience.

Events have included survivalist bookmaking, optical illusions, hand-drawn typefaces, DIY protest art, and much more. Check out our past events for inspiration, or come join an upcoming Drink & Draw to get inspired!

Spudnik Press provides technical support, event promotion, co-hosting during the event, a chance for you to do an Instagram Takeover. We also have a Virtual Tip Jar, and give the first $40 of tips to the Guest Artist as a token of our gratitude.

We’re so excited to see what you come up with!