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Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

2014 Annual Conference in Chicago

The CWA Picks for the 2014 Annual Conference in Chicago are dedicated to the memory of Wanda D. Ewing (January 4, 1970–December 8, 2013), an artist and educator who lived and worked in Omaha, Nebraska, by her friends and fellow members of the Committee on Women in the Arts.

Installation view of Lilli Carré (artwork © Lilli Carré; photograph by Nathan Keay and © Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago)

Lilli Carré: BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
December 17, 2013–April 15, 2014

Although Lilli Carré is perhaps best known for her award-winning comics, animated films, and commercial illustration, her interdisciplinary creative practice employs a wide range of media including printmaking, artists’ books, painting, and, most recently, sculpture. Her work, which defies simple classification by medium, encompasses delicate and moving explorations of humor and failure, narrative and time, the human form and abstraction, and presence and mortality.

For BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works—the artist’s first solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago—Carré presents an entirely new body of work in animation, sculpture, and drawing, highlighting new directions in her creative process. Sculptures are displayed in pairs to show the objects in two separate states of being, while their dimensional forms are abstracted, flattened, and reflected in accompanying drawings. A new work, made specifically for this installation, consists of two videos projected on opposite walls. The dual projection reveals slowly shifting temporal relationships between images, which alternate between abstraction and figuration, and positions the viewer in the empty space between the two animations. The artist encourages viewers to interpret this space and play an active role in filling the gap between objects and their resonant images.

Ghost Nature
Gallery 400
University of Illinois, Chicago, 400 South Peoria Street, Chicago IL 60607
January 17–March 1, 2014

The Northwest Passage—a historic golden fleece of shipping routes—has opened up in the Arctic, and scientists continue to predict dramatically rising seas. Bee populations have fallen rapidly, raising questions about food production. Mice grow human ears on their backs in laboratories, and rabbits glow in the dark. In this new age of ecological awareness, “Nature” as a Romantic ideal—a pristine mountainside beyond the scope of human influence—is but a dithering spirit. Rather than succumbing to the pang of this loss, Ghost Nature exposes the limits of human perspective in the emergent landscape that remains: a slippery network of sometimes-monstrous creatures, plants, and technological advances. Organized by Caroline Picard, the exhibition consists of the following artists: Sebastian Alvarez, Art Orienté objet (Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin), Jeremy Bolen, Irina Botea, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Robert Burnier, Marcus Coates, Assaf Evron, Carrie Gundersdorf, Institute of Critical Zoologists, Jenny Kendler, Devin King, Stephen Lapthisophon, Milan Metthey, Rebecca Mir, Heidi Norton, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Tessa Siddle, and Xaviera Simmons.

Judy Ledgerwood: Chromatic Patterns for the Smart Museum
David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art
University of Chicago, 5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
December 26, 2013–spring 2015

The Chicago-based artist Judy Ledgerwood has created an immense, site-specific wall painting for the Smart Museum of Art that is part of an ongoing series inspired by the energetic, asymmetrical rhythms of the composer Morton Feldman’s Patterns in a Chromatic Field (1981). The painting comprises horizontal bands of boldly colored patterns—blue with bronze, fluorescent red with mint green, spring green with copper—that run across the large central wall in the Smart’s lobby. The work responds to both the soaring, symmetrical architecture of the space and, in its repeating patterns, the design of Louis Sullivan’s elevator screens for the Chicago Stock Exchange building (two of which are on view in the lobby). The artist painted Chromatic Patterns by hand directly on the wall. The work, in the artist’s words, is made to “hang tapestry-like” with drooping and irregular edges that contrast with the clean lines of the museum’s modernist architecture.

RISK: Empathy, Art, and Social Practice
Glass Curtain Gallery
Columbia College Chicago, 1104 South Wabash Avenue, First Floor, Chicago, IL 60605
February 10–April 26, 2014

RISK considers the interdependent role of empathy and risk in socially engaged art as practiced by contemporary Chicago artists. Organized by Amy M. Mooney and Neysa Page-Lieberman, the exhibition features artists who work in a public arena to foster connections among individuals and to activate communities. Their work invites the outside in, blurs the lines of public and private, reveals our mutual dependencies, and effects social change. The “success” or “failure” of these relationship-driven projects, however, can never be guaranteed, as this porous, process-based art form exists in unpredictable, shifting environments.

The works in RISK are divergent in medium, content, and scope, but all share an interest in initiating and negotiating relationships through personal interaction. Projects range from a community Shack built in the gallery and the staging of an actual Wedding Party to herbal-remedy offerings from an Anxiety Garden and vintage Tintype Portrait sessions. Working with cultural partners and sites across the city, RISK highlights many exciting practices that are emerging in this field and explores artists’ motivations and viewers’ expectations for socially engaged art. Participating artists include: Alberto Aguilar, Jim Duignan, Industry of the Ordinary, Samantha Hill, Kirsten Leenaars, Faheem Majeed, Cecil McDonald Jr., Jennifer Mills, Cheryl Pope, the Museum of Contemporary Phenomenon, Potluck: Chicago, and Fereshteh Toosi.

Nora Schultz, image from Parrottree—Building for Bigger Than Real, 2013 (artwork © Nora Schultz)

Nora Schultz: Parrottree—Building for Bigger Than Real
Renaissance Society
University of Chicago, 5811 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
January 12–February 23, 2014

The Renaissance Society presents the first museum solo exhibition of Nora Schultz, a Berlin-based artist who produces sculptural installations that double as analogue printing studios. Her primary materials are discarded objects scavenged from her studio and the site of her exhibitions, often in the form of metal bars and sheets, grates, tubes, and plastics. Schultz repurposes this refuse into sculptural objects, as well as contact printing devices, stencils, and even simple rotary presses with which she prints (often as public performance) abstractions scaled from the intimate to the monumental, exhibited individually or in accumulating heaps. Deeply engaged with material and process, Schultz’s installations are themselves, at times, engines of ongoing artistic creation.

Social Paper
Center for Book and Paper Arts
Columbia College Chicago, 1104 South Wabash Avenue, Second Floor, Chicago, IL 60605
February 10–April 15, 2014

Social Paper, curated by Jessica Cochran and Melissa Potter, charts the evolution of the art of hand papermaking in relation to recent discourse around socially engaged art, pointing specifically to craft, labor, and site-specificity and to the collaborative and community aspects of contemporary hand papermaking. According the medium’s proponents, socially engaged art blurs the lines separating politics, community organizing, and art. Projects such as community gardens and centers, interactive and multigenerational workshops, educational programs, and public art invoke the spirit of urgent social transformation.

From urban elementary schools to indigenous tribes in Latin America to communities of international war veterans, hand papermaking artists translate this medium into meaningful activity with diverse constituencies. To date, no major exhibitions or discourse around this important and timely theme exist. This exhibition will contribute to new scholarship in the field of craft arts and specifically hand paper making, as well as feature the work of the Center for Book and Paper Arts, a unique institution in Chicago, and the world that supports critical discourse and interdisciplinary activity in the book and paper arts. Artists include: Loreto Apilado and Trisha Martin, Laura Anderson Barbata, Kim Berman, Combat Paper, Nick Dubois, Fresh Press (University of Illinois), Julia Goodman, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe, Cathy Mooses, Paper Road Tibet, Parents Circle – Families Forum, Peace Paper, Maggie Puckett, John Risseeuw, Kiff Slemmons, the People’s Library (Richmond), and Women’s Studio Workshop (Art Farm).

MCA DNA: Warhol and Marisol
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
September 21, 2013–June 15, 2014

The 1960s were important years for two artists and friends—Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) and Marisol (Marisol Escobar, American, b. France, 1930)—and marked a formative period in the development of their individual careers. Warhol began using his celebrated silkscreen techniques to produce serial paintings, often based on mass-media images. Marisol made the first of many portraits and developed her signature style: wooden sculptures with flat painted surfaces and additional elements such as everyday objects or plaster castings. Both were prominent figures in New York’s lively art scene during this time. The two attended events together and each exhibited their work in solo shows at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery as they came to be identified with the rising Pop art movement. Warhol and Marisol even turned to one another as occasional subjects: Marisol made a sculptural portrait of Warhol in the early 1960s, titled Andy; and around the same time, Warhol featured Marisol in some of his legendary early films.

Inspired by the multifaceted relationship of these two artists, MCA DNA: Warhol and Marisol presents a focused selection of their works, side by side, drawn primarily from the museum’s collection. Key examples of Warhol’s silkscreen paintings and Marisol’s wood sculptures illuminate the artists’ respective approaches to portraiture, while the pairing of their work brings certain affinities into view, including a similar use of repeating figures. At the same time, their methods diverge in significant ways, perhaps most visibly in the contrast between Warhol’s overtly mechanical approach to painting and Marisol’s more handcrafted, labor-intensive techniques as a sculptor.

Faith Wilding performing as Isadora Duncan at the Fresno Feminist Art Program in 1971, with a collaborative costume image and staging by Nancy Youdelman (photograph by Dori Atlantis)

Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries Retrospective
Three Walls
119 North Peoria Street, No. 2C, Chicago, IL 60607
January 10–February 22, 2014

Although best known for her contribution to Womanhouse—the 1972 performance Waiting—and for her role in the formation of the first Feminist Art Program in Fresno and Cal Arts, Faith Wilding remains largely understudied. As the first major retrospective of her work, Fearful Symmetries spans forty years and brings together and contextualizes the studio practice—especially works on paper—that accompanies Wilding’s performative work, illuminating the allegorical imagery that underpins her feminism and the centrality of transformation and emergence in its articulation. As such the exhibition highlights the theme of becoming—as transformative event and threshold to transfiguration—as a state of in-between-ness, evoked by iconographic motifs such as leaves, the chrysalis, hybrid beings, or “waiting” itself.

Alongside the exhibition is a curated archive featuring Wilding’s work with the collaborative research and performance group subRosa; rare videos of performances made throughout her career; and papers and publications dating from her participation in the feminist art movement in the 1970s. A series of special events will punctuate the exhibition.

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung: Violet Fogs Azure Snot and Sensitive Instruments
Corbett vs Dempsey Gallery
120 North Ashland Avenue, Third Floor, Chicago, IL 60622
February 7–March 15, 2014

Violet Fogs Azure Snot is an exhibition of new paintings by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, a Chicago-based artist who will be included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color, eighty-page catalogue. In Sensitive Instruments, Zuckerman-Hartung has invited nine artists to exhibit works in tandem with a CAA panel of the same name: Cora Cohen, Dana DeGiulio, Abigail DeVille, Susanne Doremus, Michelle Grabner, Suzanne McClelland, Deirdre O’Dwyer, Jennifer Packer, and Monique Prieto.

Strange Bedfellows
Averill and Bernard Leviton A+D Gallery
Columbia College Chicago, 619 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605
January 16–February 22, 2014

Columbia College Chicago’s Averill and Bernard Leviton A+D Gallery presents Strange Bedfellows, organized by the San Francisco art historian Amy Cancelmo. Artists from across the United States who range in their gender and sexual identities, politics, and strategies for collaboration will contribute artworks that explore collaborative roles in contemporary queer art practice, including the personal, performative, and political.

This exhibition includes work by Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens, who have been married sixteen times. They’ve married each other legally in Canada and also married their community, the Earth, the sea, the rocks, the moon, the snow, and many other natural elements in extravagant and colorful performances. For Strange Bedfellows, Sprinkle and Stephens present an audiovisual installation featuring simultaneous screenings of their first seven weddings.

Participating in the exhibition are: Bren Ahearn and Jesse Kahn,
E. G. Crichton,
Sean Fader,
Alexander Hernandes and RUDE House,
Sarah Hirneisen,
Amos Mac and Juliana Huxtable LaDosha,
Tara Mateik,
Barbara McBane and Susan Working,
Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger,
billy ocallaghan, PosterVIRUS/Jordan Arseneault,
Adrienne Skye Roberts,
Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens,
Julie Sutherland,
Tina Takemoto and Angela Ellsworth,
Chris Vargas and Greg Youmans,
Joe Varisco and QUEER LEXICON, and
Angie Wilson and Amber Straus.

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