CEG is proud to present our biannual summer exhibition, The Chicago Project VII: Selections from our Online Gallery, featuring the work of Barbara Diener, Jim Ferguson, Whit Forrester, Andy Goodwin, Angie McMonigal, Natasha Spencer, and Samantha VanDeman. The opening reception with the artists is tonight, July 13, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm!
2018 marks the fifteen-year anniversary of The Chicago Project, created in 2003 as an online-only gallery devoted to unrepresented photographers in the Chicagoland area. In an effort to promote local talent, Catherine Edelman Gallery put out a call for submission to all local photographers, that exists on a year round basis. To date, the site has featured more than 100 photographers whose images range from traditional black & white landscapes and documentary work, to color narratives and digital constructions. The goal of the online gallery is to expose local artists to our ever-increasing global audience of curators and collectors.
Born in 1982 in Germany Barbara Diener received her Bachelor of Fine Art in photography from the California College of the Arts and Masters in Fine Art in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been exhibited at Alibi Fine Art, Chicago, IL, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, Hyde Park Art Center, Hyde Park, IL, David Weinberg Gallery, Chicago, IL, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA, Invisible Dog Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Lilllstreet Art Center, Chicago, IL, Riverside Art Center, Chicago, IL. Pingyao Photo Festival, China, The Arcade, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA, Darkroom Gallery, Essex Junction, VT and Project Basho, Philadelphia, PA among others. Diener’s photographs are part of several private and institutional collections including the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography.
In 2013 Diener was selected to participate in two highly ambitious and competitive artist residency programs, the Fields Project in Oregon, IL and ACRE in Steuben, WI and she is currently participating in the residency program HATCH Projects 2015-2016 through the Chicago Artist Coaltition.
Diener is a winner of Flash Forward 2013, the recipient of a Follett Fellowship at Columbia College Chicago and was awarded the Albert P. Weisman Award in 2012 and 2013. In addition Diener received an Individual Artist Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events in 2015. She is the Collection Manager in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches photography at Oakton Community College and at the School of the Art Institute.
In my previous body of work, Sehnsucht, I photographed in small, rural towns that triggered childhood memories. During that process I met and became fascinated with a woman named Kathy. She owns the diner in her town and lives on her husband’s family farm, which is haunted by his ancestors. Her belief in the spectral sparked my own interest in the unexplained and ties back to my ongoing curiosity about religion, spirituality and the human desire to believe that something else happens after we die and that a part of us–the spirit or soul–continues on.
The camera is a crucial tool for most paranormal investigators, so it was a natural step for me to become an amateur ghost hunter myself. Photography has been linked to the spirit world since the 1860s with the popularity of spirit photography and post-mortem portraits. Since its invention photography has lent a sense of immortality to its subjects. In recent years the paranormal has received amplified media attention through numerous ‘reality’ television programs that sensationalize any phenomena for the camera. On the contrary my approach is self-reflective and curious. To make the resulting images I have adopted both traditional and contemporary methods of capturing the invisible, as well as employed my own interpretation of the magical and mystical.
I like to classify myself not as an emerging artist but as a reemerging artist. I have a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After getting my BFA, I started showing and selling my work. As a result of this effort my work is in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Museo Nacional de Antropologia- Mexico, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and numerous private collections. I am also included in the Macmillian Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists and Innovators. I took an extended leave of absence from showing but not photographing. Now I’m reemerging into the fine art photography scene.
Reconstructed Space is a portfolio made up of abstract landscape images taken in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. My intent was to share the hidden realities I see with my altered sense of depth perception.
Born cross-eyed, corrective surgery left me with no depth perception. I developed a different way of seeing things, measuring spaces, layers and distances that I use in my photography. It is this vision I share with my viewers.
Once I select a scene, I deconstruct then reconstruct the scene to show the viewer my take on the place, often creating an unfamiliar and potentially a disorienting depiction. I sometimes reinterpret a space by flattening and compressing layers of the various elements in the image.
I emphasize light, shadow, form and movement, in an effort to depict my personal perspective. By purposefully avoiding people and turning off color in my images I am able to produce a cleaner, stronger, more abstract photograph that brings out the graphic nature and textural elements in the shot.
Most of my photographs are taken outside the U.S., often in familiar locations. However, in my reconstructed images the locations become ambiguous. The scenes can be elusive. There is normally something, or enough in the image, that allows the viewer to define the image for themselves…to pull them into my work. I don’t care where they land as long as it’s a thoughtful landing. This allows the viewer to be part of the act of creation.
While often drawn to historical settings such as Medieval and Colonial towns and archaeological sites, I don’t feel obligated photographically to illustrate the preceding history, but to transform the place into powerful images that are both enigmatic and engaging.
Forrester is based in Chicago, IL. He has a BA in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College. He has exhibited widely, in both national and international contexts, and has a range of aesthetic interests that include: practices of accumulation, manifestations of power, diaspora, noetic science, new materialisms, discourses around the transcendent and the material relationship between self and world. These encounter fusion around ideas of collective liberation, quantum feminisms, queer theory, and decolonization as a spiritual practice.
Domesticating the Numinous
As principal actors in nature, plants energize the spaces of my research and work. Here, historical and contemporary aesthetic dimensions intersect with our assumed relationships to the natural world, and to what is known as the Divine or spiritual. At this juncture I primarily employ photographic processes alongside historical techniques of representation to place the work in conversation with art and colonial histories. Gold to represent light, light to represent the Divine, and a portraiture which exists at the edge of still life and iconography. The resulting works are intended to guide our responses as both viewers and participants in the larger world, taking cues from new materialism and the ongoing discourses that conjoin the metaphysical and quantum.
Inside these aesthetic realms’ and metaphysical environment’s relationship to power, the natural world as the subject takes on multiple roles. It serves as a historical recipient, an active participant (equal in importance to our human physicality and spirituality), and ultimately a collaborative transformer for the social relationships that compose larger systems of economic and societal power. I am ultimately interested in the potential of houseplants to queer our perceptions of our environments through the capitulation that they are, in fact, living multidimensional prints of the divine themselves.
Most of my time is spent in the commercial photography world shooting for clients like Sony, John Deere, Aflac, Boeing, GM, FORBES and others. However, it’s my personal and pro bono projects that excite me the most.
The Charreada, predecessor to the American Rodeo.
What began as a curious look into a sport I was unfamiliar with became a fascinating journey into the world of the Charro, a proud culture filled with ordinary Mexican Americans who suit up on the weekends to keep their tradition alive. The time and money spent perfecting these skills handed down from 100 years ago is an incredible spectacle to behold. It’s a dangerous sport and the rewards are often little or nothing with men commonly getting injured.
Tradition can be a good enough reason to participate in something but there is a shared importance and comfort here that I think helps these dedicated horsemen stay connected to each other and to a heritage that must seem far away.
This work has been recognized by National Geographic and has won awards with The Smithsonian and The Creative Quarterly.
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.
In the city that built the first skyscraper, the lines that structure the urban landscape run north and south, east and west thus creating ‘the grid’. This is not just a tool for getting around; it’s the secret code that makes order out of chaos. However, 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. I’ve started to see this grid 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. 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. 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. It’s all stitched together now on a single plane.
Natasha Spencer is an interdisciplinary, American artist. Her digital work has screened in film, video, and new media venues across the country and abroad. Her audio piece, “The House She Flew In On”, is included on the compilation CD, “Extracted Celluloid”, produced by Illegal Art, Negativland, and RtMark, and has aired on the John Peel’s Show, Radio 1, BBC, London. In 2002 she was awarded a residency at The Wexner Center for the Arts Video Lab where she completed “The House She Flew In On : The Video” and “Somewhere”. Natasha received a 2004 Fellowship in the Media Arts from the Illinois Arts Council and an Illinois Art Council Fellowship in the Visual Arts in 1999. Additionally, she is archived at the The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. Natasha currently works and resides in Chicago, IL.
When materials in an environment interplay in such a way that they allow everyday scenes to be framed as culture narratives; What went unnoticed is now obvious as a found object. Each photograph is a document of such observations, taken without further manipulation on my part, during the comings-and-goings of the day.
Born in 1982, Samantha VanDeman grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. She studied fine arts at Columbia College Chicago, receiving a BFA in 2005. In 2007, she returned to college, this time to earn a MFA in visual arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2009.
Samantha has been exhibited her work at Emory Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Finch and Ada, NY; New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Las Manos Gallery, Chicago, IL; Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA; Midwest center for Photography, Wichita, KS; Gallery 808, Boston, MA; Change Artist Space, San Francisco, CA; Perspective Gallery, Evanston, IL; Barrett Art Center Galleries, Poughkeepsie, NY and Fourth Wall Projects in Boston, MA; Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY; Rayko Photo center, San Francisco, CA; Smashbox Studios, Culver City, CA; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR; The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO; Wall Space Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA. She most recently was selected as a winner for Flash Forward 2013 and won first place for architectural interiors in The International Photography Awards. Samantha’s work has been published in SHOTS Magazine, LENSCRATCH, F-Stop Magazine, CDS Porch and International Photography Annual.
No Vacancy is an ongoing photographic series documenting abandoned hotel interiors that have sat vacant for nearly five to thirty years.
In my work, I’m often drawn to abandoned places that appear to be frozen in time. I use my camera to examine these places that have been forgotten by society. Through the use of color and light, I attempt to capture the beauty that once existed in these magnificent environments. By photographing these hotels, I hope to provide a visual record of what might be lost forever.
See the entire exhibition in full on our website here, and join us tonight for the opening reception with the artists!