Have you watched Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Lipton? In this popular TV show, James Lipton interviews legendary guests. He ends his interviews with a famous list of ten questions. Over the years, CEG has asked our artists these same ten questions to gain insight into their personalities and work. This week, Omar Imam, Garrett O. Hansen, and Colleen Plumb answer James Lipton’s Top Ten!
What is your favorite word?
Omar: Bianca ( my daughter) Garrett: Azafata Colleen: Waterfall
2.What is your least favorite word?
O: Stereotype G: Committee C: Sick
3.What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
O: Contradictions around me, and the ability to mix them all G: Quiet C: Music, friends, nature
4.What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
O: Repetition G: Theory C: Worry
5.What sound or noise do you love?
O: Rain G: Rain falling on the roof of a cabin C: The sound of breeze from inside a grove of aspen trees
6.What sound or noise do you hate?
O: Clock ticking G: The noise Outlook makes when a new email arrives C: Lawn mowers
We are always excited to share new work by our artists, and Jess T. Dugan sent us new photographs this week! Jess has had a busy summer teaching workshops and making new portraits. Below are four new additions to her series Every Breath We Drew.
Jess writes that Every Breath We Drew “explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of myself and others. Working within the framework of queer experience and from my actively constructed sense of masculinity, my portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others. I photograph people in their homes, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.
“I combine formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of my own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my private, individual experience. The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity I am attracted to, yet also the kind I want to embody. Similarly, the photographs of relationships speak to a drive to be seen, understood, desired through the eyes of a another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.
“By asking others to be vulnerable with me through the act of being photographed, I am laying claim to what I find beautiful and powerful while asking larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.”
Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. Jess earned a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Portraits from this series are currently on view in the 2017 Aperture Summer OpenOn Freedom, at the Aperture Foundation, in New York City, NY, until August 17 and in The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Todayat the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, TX, until September 10. You can see more of Every Breath We Drew on our website here.
We are excited to share new work by Ysabel LeMay! Ysabel has been hard at work on a large-scale commission as well as these additions to her series, Gracia.
Eden I, II and III are designed to work as a diptych, triptych or individually. They are available in two sizes, 48 x 48″ and 59 x 59″ in editions of seven and five, respectively.
Combining her technical expertise with her deep-seated roots as a painter, LeMay continues her exploration into the power and divinity of nature through a unique process she calls “Photo-Fusion”. At first glance, you might think you are looking at a hyper-realistic painting. However, LeMay’s innovative technique is a lengthy process during which hundreds of photographs are taken and light and visual properties are attuned. She then assembles one detail at a time in a painterly fashion to form a single composition. In 2011, LeMay was selected the winner of KiptonArt Rising Star program in New York. Since then she has exhibited in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and The Netherlands. Her upcoming solo show “WOW: Wonderful Other Worlds” opens at the Morris Museum in New Jersey on September 16, 2017.
Ysabel LeMay is presently living and working in Austin Texas. You can watch an Artist Talk we recorded with Ysabel in 2015 here, during her solo show “Wonders” at the gallery in Chicago. See more of her work on our website.
We are pleased to announce our newest Chicago Project artist, Angie McMonigal!
Angie is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Chicago. The following are a selection of images from her ongoing series titled Urban Quilt, along with her artist statement. VisitThe Chicago Project website to see more of her work.
Quilting The City
Two pieces of advice longtime Chicagoans love giving newcomers: first, never ask for ketchup on your hot dog; second, learn ‘the grid.’ The first piece of advice will keep you from getting publicly shamed at a hot dog joint. The second is supposed to make it possible to find any address in the city, calculate the distance between any two points, and save you from ever getting lost.
People who believe in the handiness of ‘the grid’ talk about it with reverence. They’ll expect you to express some awe when they tell you about it, so resist the urge to respond with, “Yes, but Google Maps….” The grid is not just a tool for getting around; it’s the secret code that makes order out of chaos. And yet it’s also, so they’ll tell you, very easy to understand.
I’ll try to explain. According to the grid system, Chicago’s primary north-south and east-west streets are laid out in one-mile increments from the “zero” point downtown, where State Street crosses Madison in the Loop. Addresses run up and down from that zero point, 100 addresses per block, 8 blocks per mile. This means that each of the primary streets gets assigned a number, and those numbers go up in increments of 800. Chicago Avenue is 800 North. North Avenue is 1600 North. Fullerton is 2400 North. And so on. Going west, you have Halsted Street at 800 West, Ashland Avenue is 1600 West, and so on.
If counting by 800 is easy for you, you’re all set. And, oh, don’t forget that the first few miles south of Madison each contain an irregular number of blocks, so Roosevelt Road is actually 1200 South, Cermak is 2200, and things don’t even out until 31st Street (3100 South).
After seventeen years of living in Chicago, I’ve successfully avoided humiliating myself at a hot dog stand, but I still don’t think I’ve completely figured out this grid. It certainly has not kept me from getting lost. But I do like the idea that there are these clean lines running through the messy city, underlying rules that make it all make sense. And I like that the rules get broken in sneaky little ways, and that just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, there’s a new complication to keep you on your toes.
Of course the lines that structure the urban landscape don’t just run north and south, east and west. In the city that built the first skyscraper, the most striking lines are the ones that run from street to sky. The facades of Chicago’s imposing towers make up this whole other grid, the one staring straight at you, composed of windows, beams, balconies, pillars, rooflines.
We are surrounded by horizontal and vertical lines repeating rhythmically in steel, brick, stone, and glass. The grid is impossible to miss when you see the bold black lines of Mies van der Rohe, or the red lines of the CNA Center. Sullivan embellishes his patch of the grid with bits of gorgeous ornamentation. The Wabash Building — Roosevelt University’s new “vertical campus” — sneaks in a sleek diagonal. The Burberry shop on Michigan Avenue playfully inserts the brand’s signature tartan into the quilt.
And that’s how I’ve started to see it — as a quilt. Because I don’t just see individual buildings standing there as imposing towers of steel. I see a patchwork. Different colors, different textures, different materials, different architectural styles, all pieced together. Some patches are pristine and new, others a little more worn. There are iconic patterns, immediately recognizable, and also bits that are hard to identify, fragments that feel familiar but are hard to place. I see spindly fire escapes tacked on, looking like bits of stray stitching. Some blocks make clear that they were destined to be joined together, others look like accidents, or even challenging points of tension.
We often think of photographs as capturing a single moment in time. A shutter clicks, an instant is preserved. Quilts, as I learned from my grandmother, are slow. They take hours and hours to make. They are passed down from generation to generation. A single quilt can take scraps of fabric from different eras and bring them together into a unified whole — a whole that celebrates, rather than hides, the uniqueness of each of the pieces, and the time and effort it takes to bring them together.
When I started photographing the city as an urban quilt, I became more aware of the way these buildings preserve different moments from our history. Those moments aren’t arranged in a nice orderly timeline like you’d find in a history book or a museum display. They’re standing next to each other, layered on top of one another. My photographs flatten out the miles between the streets and erase the years that separate one construction project from the next. The modern lines of the Art Institute’s newest wing frame the classical details of Daniel Burnham’s Peoples Gas Building, completed across the street almost 100 years prior. It’s all stitched together now on a single plane.
The oldest surviving Chicago skyscraper was completed in 1891, and the urban quilt contains traces of every decade since. Like every square of a quilt, each of these pieces is still in use, performing a real function in the present moment. That Peoples Gas Building from 1911 is home to a shiny new Walgreens, and you can still have lunch or take a dance lesson a few blocks away in the Fine Arts Building, which dates back to 1885.
When I look at the beautiful quilts my grandmother made, I’m transported back to rural Wisconsin where I grew up, far from the grid of the big city and the steel of Chicago’s massive skyscrapers. I’ve always loved her quilts, but they’re a product of a different place and time, and I would never have imagined making anything like that myself. But with these photographs, which have taught me to see time and space a little differently, I think I’ve found a bit of the quilter in me after all.
Angie McMonigal moved to Chicago more than 15 years ago and has been exploring the city with her camera ever since. Raised in a small town in Wisconsin, she approaches the urban environment with the spirit of someone who grew up surrounded by nature, finding moments of meditative calm in terrain that is always transforming. Focusing more frequently on bold architectural details rather than sweeping cityscapes, her photographs celebrate those unexpectedly iconic elements hiding in plain sight. From landmark buildings she distills the essential lines and textures that frame the city. McMonigal sees these structures as actively shaping, and shaped by, human activity; they are never mere backdrop. Steel and brick towers are presented as quilts rich with history, solid structures soar with soul, and concrete edifices echo the lofty ambition of planners and dreamers.
An award-winning fine art photographer, Angie’s work has been internationally exhibited and published. Her photos have been showcased by galleries in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and other destinations. Publication credits include National Geographic, Departures, and SHOTS Magazine. She has received awards from the International Photography Awards (IPA) and Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3), among others.
TheChicago Projectis an online gallery initiative by Catherine Edelman Gallery, devoted to new and established photographers in the Chicago area, who we feel deserve recognition. It is our hope to expose local talent to a wider audience and we plan on adding photographers as we find them. If you are interested in learning more about the Chicago Project or would like information on how to submit, click HERE.
We are proud to present Targeted, a three-person show that marks the Chicago debut of work by Omar Imam, Garrett O. Hansen, and Colleen Plumb, which addresses the effects of violence and captivity on individuals and communities. The show opens today, July 14, and runs through September 1, 2017.
The opening reception is tonight, July 14 from 5:00-8:00pm, as a part of the River North Gallery District’s Mid Summer Art Walk. Over 15 galleries will have summer exhibitions on view, and local restaurants will offer food and drink specials. Stop by CEG for the opening of Targeted, and stick around for the after party at Bar Lupo. Read more about the Art Walk here.
Every day the news about Syria is dire, as the country finds itself in a civil war with no apparent end. As of today, 6.6 million people have been displaced and the number keeps rising. More than 400,000 people have been murdered, and hundreds of thousands more have been severely beaten, starved and detained. More than 17,000 people have died in Syrian prisons, as a result of torture or inhumane conditions, and another 13,000 sentenced to death. The horror in Syria is now entering its 6th year, as the government seems to be systematically annihilating its people.
In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam (b. 1979, Damascus) was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. Soon after, Imam left Damascus with his parents and wife, settling in Beirut where he and his wife started a family. In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam, where he currently resides. His family recently received paperwork that will finally allow them to join him.
Live, Love, Refugee is Imam’s photographic response to the chaos erupting in his homeland. In refugee camps across Lebanon, Imam collaborated with Syrians to create photographs that talked about their reality, rather than presenting them as a simple statistic. As a refugee himself, Imam understands the loss and chaos of being displaced from ones home. But dreams cannot be eradicated — dreams of escape, dreams of love, and dreams of terror. These dreams are what Imam set out to capture. The resulting images peel back the façade of flight, to reveal the spirit of those who persevere, despite losing everything that was familiar. These composed photographs challenge our perception of victimization, offering access into the heart and soul of humanity.
In the United States, roughly 40% of households own a firearm. There are enough guns—approximately 300 million—to arm nearly every man, woman, and child in the country. This statistic is at the core of work being done by Garrett O. Hansen (b. 1979, NYC). In 2013, Hansen moved from Indonesia to teach at the University of Kentucky. It was in Lexington that the prevalence of gun culture caught his attention and became the focus of his work. He began making weekly visits to a local gun range and collecting the cardboard pieces that sit behind familiar targets of a generic unarmed silhouette. Each shooter is given a fresh target, while the backings slowly erode from the rounds shot at the figures chest and head. In Silhouette, Hansen brings these pieces of cardboard into the darkroom, where he creates full sized contact prints of them. These photographs are then scanned and form the basis for the final pieces that are made of mirrored Plexiglas and represent a one-to-one replica of the original cardboard backings. As viewers approach the piece, they see their own reflections hollowed out by the countless bullets. Through this series, Hansen seeks to engage the viewer in a broader discussion about gun culture in America.
According to available data, 2016 was the deadliest year in the city of Chicago since 1997. A huge uptick in violence resulted in 723 gun deaths… the highest of any city. The entire state of Kentucky had 278. In his newest series Memorial, Hansen examines these statistics by physically shooting pieces of paper multiple times, from which he creates gelatin silver prints, mirroring the number of gun deaths in each month. A comparison between Chicago and Kentucky will be on view. Through pieces of paper riddled with bullet holes, Hansen illuminates the heavy price of an armed civilian population.
Most people encounter endangered animals in a zoo, behind protective glass or a large moat. Designed to educate, preserve and foster conservationism, zoos have come under fire by animal rights activists who question the welfare of captured animals in an artificial environment. Colleen Plumb (b. 1970, Chicago) tackles these issues in Path Infinitum, a video projection that explores the complexities and contradictions of keeping wild animals in captivity and raises questions about our participation as a spectator.
Traveling to more than 60 zoos in the U.S. and Europe, Plumb filmed animals exhibiting stereotypy, a behavior only seen in captive animals, which includes rhythmic rocking, swaying, head bobbing, stepping back and forth and pacing. Path Infinitum looks at elephants, lions, and polar bears, along with many other animals that exhibit stereotypy or hopelessness due to lack of adequate mental stimulation or an inability to engage in natural activities. As more and more animals face extinction due to human consumption, sport and profit, Plumb raises questions that are meant to provoke discussion and raise awareness about endangered species.
In conjunction with the opening of Targeted, Facets Cinémathèque is hosting a screening of Unlocking the Cage, a documentary about animal advocacy group, Nonhuman Rights Project. NhRP’s executive director, Kevin Schneider, will join Colleen Plumb in a discussion about art’s role in litigating for nonhuman beings, immediately following the film. The event is FREE and begins at 5pm, Saturday, July 15. RSVP here!
Omar Imam is an Amsterdam-based, Syrian photographer and filmmaker. In his photographic works, Imam uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria, often publishing his work under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he began making fictional short films that often focus on the Syrian refugee experience. Individually and with NGOs, he has produced films, photographic projects, and workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In April 2017 he received the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award.
Garrett O. Hansen graduated from Grinnell College in 2002, where he studied economics and political science. He completed his MFA in photography at Indiana University in 2010, and has taught at several universities in the United States and in Asia; he is now an Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Kentucky. Hansen has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Indonesia, and Japan.
Colleen Plumb works in photography, video, public installation, and object making, tackling the relationship between animals and humans. Her work is held in several permanent collections and has been widely exhibited nationally. Her video projections have taken her from the Grand Teton National Park to Berlin, Paris, New Mexico, and most recently to New York City, where she projected Path Infinitum onto the doors of Pier 94 during The Photography Show, presented by AIPAD.
You can see the entire exhibition by visiting our website.
Maybe you celebrated July 4th over the weekend. Perhaps you had an extra long weekend in honor of the holiday. Whatever the case, CEG hopes everyone has a safe and fun-filled Independence Day today. We are closed today–normal business hours will resume tomorrow morning.
Don’t forget–this is the last week to see Gallery Artists 2017, on view through July 8!