Studio Visit: Michael Milano

This studio visit is a part of the exhibition ROUNDS featuring new works by Michael Milano, Alyssa Moxley, and Milad Mozari. The exhibition is organized by Make Space in conjunction with ACRE.

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The first time I saw Michael Milano‘s work, something in the repetitive pattern drawings resonated with me. They were like weavings or textiles but without the cloth – just lines drawn in different colored marker on sheets of graph paper. They were clean, quiet, and neatly organized on the page – simple iterations of a single pattern unit shifting across the grid. I was intrigued by the work and wanted to learn more about Michael’s process and his drive to make it.

Michael Milano

I actually met Michael shortly after encountering his work, and I invited him to be featured on Make Space. Then, he ended up as the Teaching Assistant for a class I took at Ox-Bow over the summer and in November, I moved into a studio directly next to his in a building on the corner of Damen and Fulton. With this close proximity, it was fairly easy for us to meet up for a studio visit about his work in December. This took place right before we found out that we would also be working together for Make Space’s first show with ACRE, where Michael was a resident last summer. This past weekend, Jason and I got to go back into Michael’s studio to see what he’s been up to and talk about his work for the show.

Michael Milano

Michael Milano

It’s been interesting to see Michael’s work change from the images that I first saw about a year ago. He’s still making patterned-based drawings, but now is incorporating other materials like quilt batting, fabric, thread, and stretched canvas. These material choices are not surprising, considering that Michael got his Masters in Fine Arts from the Fiber and Material Studies Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His drawings have strong connections to quilt patterns and weave drafts – grid-based drawings that are used to plan weavings. Michael explained that it was towards the very end of his time at SAIC when he initially started moving away from working with materials and began just making drawings. “I got really sick of playing with materials … I just wanted to concentrate on the structure without the thing,” he explained. Drawing became a way in which he could continue to explore the possibilities of how these patterns could be put together, while eliminating the actual objects. He saw the drawings as studies – they could be final products, objects, or they could just be prototypes. Drawing was also a mode for figuring something out or thinking out loud. He questioned whether an entire practice could be based off of only making studies and never turning them into actual things. He drew a connection to weave drafts which are just steps in the creation of woven cloth but have interesting visual presences in themselves. “I was thinking, maybe it’s more conceptual in some ways if it never becomes the thing, if it’s always the draft.”

Michael Milano

Michael’s more recent work has made a move back to materiality. His newer drawings look more like quilts — or maybe paintings, we weren’t sure. In a process similar to what he uses to create his drawings on paper, Michael is taking different aspects of the quilt-making process and breaking them down to make formal choices in the work. Some of his new works are composed of pieced fabric pinned or stitched onto a stretched canvas. In others, he uses stitched marks to create new patterns following the prints on found pieces of fabric. The stitches not only create a visual pattern but also quilt the fabric onto the batting and stretched canvas to create a texture that further points to the work’s objecthood. Michael explains that his interest in quilts doesn’t lie in their role as functional or socially charged objects but as geometric abstractions, similar to abstract paintings. By incorporating quilt patterns and processes into his practice, Michael can explore the same types of pattern possibility that he investigates in his drawings on paper.

Michael Milano

The word “possibility” is one that came up repeatedly in both visits to Michae’s studio. No matter what form Michael’s work takes – drawing, quilt, painting, object, audio recording – he is continually investigating the possibilities within a certain set of parameters. He has a fascination in the idea of what might be possible within the rules he sets for a project. It’s approached somewhat like a mathematical proof or maybe a game. Often times, he might have an idea or a hypothesis of what might result. Sometimes he even makes tests before he begins. He starts with a simple form or shape and then tries to see how much can be done with that shape through really simple alterations, such as mirroring, rotating, repeating, and tessellating. He tries to find all of the possibilities or combinations that are possible for that shape.

Even when he starts with an idea or plan for his drawing, he will be surprised by what happens throughout the process of making the work, these discoveries within the process carry him to the end of each piece. With the result unknown ahead of time, the work comes together like a poem or a song, piece by piece, line by line. The work becomes like a visual drone – almost entirely the same throughout but consisting of subtle shifts and changes over time that an audience can enter or exit at will.

Michael Milano

Michael Milano

An art practice based around making rules for oneself at first may seem strict, limiting, or boring. For Michael though, it is like playing or perhaps like solving a puzzle or riddle. He sets finite parameters for himself, and then gives himself the challenge of finding all of the possibilities within those bounds. It turns into a game, complete with a “rulebook”, an end goal, and a playing field. The class that Michael co-taught over the summer at Ox-Bow was called Party as Form. In class, we had a lot of discussions about structured play. It often seems to be the case that, when we are in settings in which we know the boundaries and the rules for how to act, we can open up to be more free and playful than in situations that are open-ended or ambiguous. By setting these rules for himself, Michael sets up his art practice as a platform for this same type of play.

Michael Milano

ACRE Projects hosts an opening reception on Sunday, April 6, 2014 from 4-8pm at 1913 West 17th Street, Chicago, IL.

Make Space and ACRE Projects is proud to present ROUNDS // new work by MICHAEL MILANO, ALYSSA MOXLEY and MILAD MOZARI, the next installment in ACRE’s year-long series of solo exhibitions by 2013 ACRE summer residents.

Studio Visit: Alyssa Moxley

This studio visit is a part of the exhibition ROUNDS featuring new works by Michael Milano, Alyssa Moxley, and Milad Mozari. The exhibition is organized by Make Space in conjunction with ACRE.

Alyssa Moxley

Alyssa Moxley is a Masters of Fine Arts student in the Sound department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her studio is on the second floor of the school’s Sharp building. It’s an average-sized studio with three stark white walls and besides the blue tape being used to hang up projects and tickets from the Gene Siskel, there is little color. Yet, despite this somewhat bare visual depiction, when visiting Alyssa’s studio, I felt like a wide-eyed child to whom the mysteries of how the world works were being revealed. Each new project explanation, to me, seemed wondrous, verging on magical, yet Alyssa’s explanations were straightforward, calm, and concise. She had the practical attitude of one deeply integrated with her work, so practiced in it that it is simply a matter of fact.

Alyssa Moxely

Upon entering the studio, the objects that most curiously caught my eye were large sheets of filmy paper that were either taped to the wall or suspended from the ceiling. On the paper is what appears to be a symbol of a spiral, laid onto the paper in thin lines of copper. Alyssa’s simple explanation of what these objects are made me no less curious. She explained that they are speakers. When a magnet is placed at the center of the spiral, the speaker can be connected to a source of sound, like a computer, and can actually play the sound.

Alyssa Moxely

Alyssa Moxely

There’s a little bit more to these objects than this straight-forward description of functionality though. Alyssa explained to me that any kind of coil shape can be used to make a speaker. She had tried out different shapes of coil and had settled on the spiral because it worked more effectively and also felt most appealing to her as a shape.  “I think it’s quite amazing that just by aligning this material in this particular way, it creates an energy field.” Alyssa was not trained in art before coming to SAIC. She studied anthropology and musicology. In her experience with different traditions around the world, she had seen the spiral used as a symbol for energy forces and while researching for her most recent project, she found this to in fact be true. “With this material, it literally is an energy field … I kind of feel like it’s a bit magical.”

Alyssa5

This sense of wonder or magic flows quietly throughout Alyssa’s work, which often includes installations of sound and visual effects – multiple elements harmoniously coming together. She showed me images of a recent installation at 6018North that turned a room into a camera obscura, projecting the street outside onto some of her hand-made paper speakers. She describes her work as visually seductive. She wants to create spaces and environments that encourage people to stop and stand still, allowing them to engage in an experience they would have otherwise missed.

Alyssa Moxley

These experiences are all portrayed through Alyssa’s unique perspective. Currently, she is deeply engrossed in researching the life and work of a U-2 Pilot who was also Alyssa’s Great Uncle. The details of this project and Alyssa’s research were revealed to me bit by bit throughout our conversation. It seems that the research process is similar for Alyssa. As new information is revealed to her, it leads to new ways for her to display her research and make her own technical discoveries. For example, the spiral shape that Alyssa used to create her speakers mimics the shape of a tool that the pilot was operating in his work. The tool was used to filter radiation and search for ancient radiation from the Big Bang. The work branches around one central subject, creating new networks of investigation and data connections. The results of this research will be displayed as Alyssa’s upcoming MFA installation. From what she explained of the different aspects of the installation, the work itself will be as equally branched and circuitous as her process of uncovering the story. It will represent the history to her audience as Alyssa has explored it and learned to understand it herself, with the built up layers of complexity conveyed through sounds, objects, and visual effects.

Alyssa Moxley

Alyssa Moxley

Alyssa’s work consists of a process of in-depth research resulting in the creation of objects and environments that make connections and complete the circuits discovered in her research for an audience. Her environments inject various presences into a space – whether these be historical presences from a place’s past, the sound of crickets in a library, or the presence of a particular person none of us will ever know. In this way, Alyssa is a translator. She translates narratives and technical functions into various platforms that an audience can access.

Harmony and translation are themes present throughout the work of each artist included in ROUNDS. In describing the work created for the show, Alyssa used the term “harmonic relationships.” I asked her to define this term. She explained that the mathematical definition of a harmony is a whole number ratio between tones. In a more poetic way, she described it as unity and wholeness, the beauty and understanding in how the brain works – to experience disparate parts brought together in just the right way. The translations in Alyssa’s work and in the work to be seen in ROUNDS materializes this harmony of translation by bringing patterns of understanding into being across various visual, sonar, and spacial planes.

ACRE Projects hosts an opening reception on Sunday, April 6, 2014 from 4-8pm at 1913 West 17th Street, Chicago, IL.

Make Space and ACRE are proud to present ROUNDS // new work by MICHAEL MILANO, ALYSSA MOXLEY and MILAD MOZARI, the next installment in ACRE’s year-long series of solo exhibitions by 2013 ACRE summer residents.

Studio Visit: Milad Mozari

This studio visit is part of the exhibition ROUNDS featuring new works by Michael Milano, ALyssa Moxley, and Milad Mozari. The exhibition is organized by Make Space in conjunction with ACRE Projects.

I first met Milad Mozari in the food line at the ACRE Residency this last summer while Make Space was conducting visits with the residents throughout a three-day period. Milad is as personable as he is intelligent, talking with a pleasant wit and a dry sense of sarcasm. Milad is an immigrant from Iran who grew up in a mostly Mormon part of Utah, which acts as a foundation for his work that concentrates on language and place or understanding cultural contexts through tradition and memory.

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Milad’s current work is, perhaps, more on the side of cultural context and language. Geometric drawings hang on the walls around his studio, which surround a table sitting on sawhorses. The table is actually Harmonograph that was created with fellow ROUNDS artist, Alyssa Moxley, during the first session of ACRE. The Harmonograph was a collaborative project by the two that will be featured in the upcoming exhibition at the ACRE space that will focus on harmonic patterns and interference.

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A CNC machine creates the geometric drawings, while the patterns themselves are realized through mathematical equations or operations dissecting songs into notes, then into sections. The number of notes drives the operation—one section may have 200 notes, where the third may have only 70. Milad has worked with loose forms of arithmetic before and his current process is still in-line with translating ideas into materials and forms.

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Milad makes cultural connects in the mathematics, continually finding his aesthetic through geometry and translation. The idea of translation and scale seem to ground the drawings. The drawings are strict but not absolutely uniform due to the nature of a felt maker creating the lines. The idea of ‘absolute’ is an interesting way to approach the work. The math or the file driving the CNC machine may be absolute but the translation is hindered by medium and perception. The felt marker has an inherent thickness—one we are accustomed to drawing with—which creates irregular overlapping patterns on the paper. The overlapping is the threshold of scale—a human scale. The translation cannot be any more defined because of the marker or the marker cannot draw the infinite even if it is told to do so. These inconsistencies questions what a geometrical drawing is and gives a clue into the process.

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When asked about poetics in the work, Milad said that his relationship with the drawings themselves are ongoing—a process of finding where the poetic may be. The poetics are not in the one-dimensional issue of indeterminacy, rather it may be found in the act of dividing perfection into the idealized and the messy realized. Perhaps the drawings also activate through the audience’s threshold—perfect to the passive and imperfect to the contemplative.

ACRE Projects hosts an opening reception on Sunday, April 6, 2014 from 4-8pm at 1913 West 17th Street, Chicago, IL.

Make Space and ACRE Projects is proud to present ROUNDS // new work by MICHAEL MILANO, ALYSSA MOXLEY and MILAD MOZARI, the next installment in ACRE’s year-long series of solo exhibitions by 2013 ACRE summer residents.

 

Tess Michalik

tessmichalik.com

The Funeral/Mourning 72” x 96” oil on canvas 2013-2014

The Funeral/Mourning
72” x 96”
oil on canvas
2013-2014

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Tess Michalik received her BFA from Herron School of Art & design in 2010. Currently an MFA candidate at Northern Illinois University, she anticipates graduation in May.

Tess Michalik paints emotional topographic landscapes. They range from the handheld to larger than life canvases. Using a floral motif, she tells stories of fear and anxiety.  She illustrates the vulnerable space where one tries to put feelings into words. Her figures sneak in and out of the picture plane nervously revealing and concealing themselves.  A consistent expressionism carries throughout Michalik’s work.

Walk Away 72” x 72” oil on canvas 2013

Walk Away
72” x 72”
oil on canvas
2013

You and Me 72” x 60” oil on canvas 2013

You and Me
72” x 60”
oil on canvas
2013

In Time 72” x 72” oil on canvas 2013

In Time
72” x 72”
oil on canvas
2013

Don’t look at me 60” x 48” oil on canvas 2013

Don’t look at me
60” x 48”
oil on canvas
2013

oil on panel, 12" x 12"

oil on panel, 12″ x 12″

Lauren Taylor

laurentaylor.info / /

Untitled (Live at Wembley Stadium) - ink jet print on paper, metal frame. 9”x 11” (2014)

Untitled (Live at Wembley Stadium) – ink jet print on paper, metal frame. 9”x 11” (2014)

Originally from Nashville, Lauren Taylor currently lives and works in Chicago. She will be receiving her BFA this spring from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also DJs/hosts an internet radio show, Babe Wave. Taylor works with a variety of mediums– examining ideas of masculinity, Rock n’ Roll aesthetics, bootleg culture, absence, and failure. She has exhibited her work at local galley spaces Alcatraz Chicago, Sunday Projects, and with The John Riepenhoff Experience in Milwaukee.

All right buttercup, you have done all that could be expected- You have resisted your natural impulses and run away from me - acrylic paint, fabric stiffener, cotton socks. 3”x 7”x 8.5” (2014)

All right buttercup, you have done all that could be expected- You have resisted your natural impulses and run away from me – acrylic paint, fabric stiffener, cotton socks. 3”x 7”x 8.5” (2014)

 

Stiff - acrylic paint, fabric stiffener, cotton T-shirt. Size small- 13”x 19”x 8” (2014)

Stiff – acrylic paint, fabric stiffener, cotton T-shirt. Size small- 13”x 19”x 8” (2014)

 

Untitled (Covers) - record sleeves deconstructed, reversed, then put back together with glue. 12”x 17”x 12” (2013)

Untitled (Covers) – record sleeves deconstructed, reversed, then put back together with glue. 12”x 17”x 12” (2013)

 

 

Pow!!! - ink, oil pastel, and acrylic on paper. 18x 24” (2014)

Pow!!! – ink, oil pastel, and acrylic on paper. 18x 24” (2014)

 

Tonight Only! - ink on paper, blue tape. 12”x 18” (2014)

Tonight Only! – ink on paper, blue tape. 12”x 18” (2014)

 

 

Jovencio de la Paz

jovenciodelapaz.org

Uncertain Cross

Uncertain Cross

Uncertain Cross

Uncertain Cross

Jovencio de la Paz lives and works in Chicago. His performances, installations and collaborative projects have been shown most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon and the Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He is an Instructor in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s department of Fiber and Material Studies, where he teaches both introductory techniques in textile processes as well as current issues in contemporary craft. His installations, performances and sculptures deal with the material embodiments of immaterial phenomena, and his interests are in the ephemeral and mystic qualities in thread and cloth. He received his MFA at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and his BFA from SAIC.

Fragment of a Line

Fragment of a Line

Fragment of a Line

Black Ellipses

Recently, I have been working with thread, which is ever mutable. I am interested in thread’s particular service to other forms of making, to weaving and to other textile processes. As an interstitial material, it is rarely a thing on its own. It is continuously trapped between raw materials and finished materials, between cotton field and denim, between sheep’s wool and sweater. Much of textile technology serves one purpose, and that is to keep thread in order, to keep thread away from its one desire, which is to be in tangles. I am interested in the moment of a tangle, in the psychological tension of loose thread. Beginning at the spinning-wheel, my current projects end in large-scale floor drawings, which are temporary and repetitive. Making these drawings requires that my body moves thread through space, and the image left on the floor is a physical trace of accreted movement.

Wool Meander

Wool Meander

Wool Meander

Wool Meander

Crystal Gregory

crystalgregory.org

Variation on a Theme (black-blue-green), concrete and handwoven textile, 2013

Variation on a Theme (black-blue-green), concrete and handwoven textile, 2013

Crystal Gregory is a multimedia artist whose work offers a provocative mix of traditional handmade objects, textiles, architecture, and craft. Following her recent graduation from the Fiber and Material Studies Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she relocated to Amsterdam, Holland to take a position as Artist In Residence at Gerrit Rietveld Academie of Art in the Glass Department. She is now living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Gregory has been awarded the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Composition No. 47, lead, tin, copper, 2013

Composition No. 47, lead, tin, copper, 2013

Variation on a Theme (black-white-yellow), concrete and handwoven textile, 2013

Variation on a Theme (black-white-yellow), concrete and handwoven textile, 2013

Form is created through a series of lines interlaced to create a structural fabric. Each thread alone is fragile, the whole is strong. My interest lies in materials and their meaning; their histories, utilities, and their social connotations. It is through lace that I reimagine line and drawing. The objects and installations reclaim the temporality of decorative patterns, found mathematics, textiles, and architecture, reorganized through a structural abstractions. Materials such as lace and lead can be voyeuristic materials. The gaze passes easily through allowing or forcing the separation from the ‘other’ (the thing contained). The materials highlight, objectify, and eroticize the other side. The work creates and collapses pattern systems found in cloth, interior architecture, and material culture.

Passage, glass and lead, 2011

Variation on a Theme (black-red-pink), concrete and handwoven textile, 2013

Variation on a Theme (black-red-pink), concrete and handwoven textile, 2013

Tamara Santibanez

www.tamarasantibanez.com / / www.savedtattoo.com

yabasta

Tamara Santibanez is an artist and tattooer living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Her paintings explore the iconography of subculture and the ways in which seemingly disparate cultures overlap via visual symbolism. Her tattooing draws on this approach, combining elements from traditional American color tattooing, black and grey Chicano style, and the punk and heavy metal visual tradition. Combining her background in fine art printmaking with the practice of tattooing, Tamara utilizes qualities of both the permanence of tattoos as wearable icons and the ephemeral nature of mass-produced print media, such as zines and gig posters. In her most recent work, Tamara renders objects with subcultural associations to explore the ways their meanings are assigned and altered by the viewer.

telepathiclove

dotheyoweusaliving

smileweb LEATHER boot floggerweb

Dianna Frid

diannafrid.net

Be Made of Laughing Particles, 2013

Dianna Frid is an artist who works on drawing, sculpture, installation and artist’s books. Her works are both corporeal and philosophical reflections on the ways in which materials—physical and lexical—produce aesthetic and contemplative experiences and, by doing so, shape our sense of reality. Frid has received major awards from the Canada Council of the Arts and the Artadia Foundation. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally at institutions such as PS1- MOMA, in New York, the Drawing Center in New York City, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Neues Kunstforum in Cologne. Her work has been recently exhibited at Bravin Lee Programs in New York, and is housed in public collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cleveland Clinic.

Dianna Frid was born in Mexico City and migrated to Canada with her family when she was a teenager. She currently lives in Chicago where she is Associate Professor in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to her studio work, Dianna Frid started to make artist’s books in 1993 in Vancouver, with the name The Artery Archives as her imprint.

2013

Left: Evidence of the Material World, III / Right: Be Made of Laughing Partilcles, 2013

I make two and three-dimensional objects as well as site-specific installations that are both corporeal and philosophical. My works are conceived as reflections on the ways in which materials—physical and lexical—engender aesthetic and contemplative experiences and, by doing so, shape our sense of reality.

On the one hand, my work resonates with inquiries arising in the 1950s concerning process and material in sculpture and painting, where concurrent movements challenged classicism and monumentality in art, and celebrated ‘impoverished materials’ as radical alternatives to media such as marble and bronze. On the other hand, a corresponding set of influences arises from unexpectedly parallel lineages of craft, such as textile production. I reconsider these lineages as significant pivots at the margins of modernism, where aesthetic and technical traditions meet, where an artifact is given form through structured processes that integrate basic fibers to produce codes embodied in patterned signs—codes that are not altogether distant from the inscription of words on a page. Across these influences, I interrogate the ideological gap between the arts and crafts, between idea and production.

Transcription (After Vladimir Mayakovsky), 2013

At the inception of a body of work, I engage attentively with manual processes, concentrating on the specific properties and potentials of substances and matter: the filaments of thread, the strangely brittle robustness of plaster, the lustrous shimmer of graphite. I reconfigure and combine these to arrive at resolutions for which there is no prior blueprint. This process relies on both gained proficiency and spontaneous exploration.

The works unfold within the context of my studio—a laboratory where I experiment with the multivalent possibilities of making. Cloth, with its dynamic potentials to be both volumetric and flat, offers the perfect model for how the sculptural and the pictorial inform each other—from surface and pattern to mass and its relation to bodily and architectural scale. The resulting works are formally heterogeneous: I might present a sculpture made with stacked canvas and coloring pencil next to an existing wall transformed by a thin membrane of shiny graphite; the two activate each other as percepts and precepts, prompting questions of awareness and meaning-making. Over the years, several of my projects have incorporated textual elements. The material of language—as it occurs in specific literary and popular sources—plays a generative role.

A reason why my work is provocative stems from its embrace of practices, such as sewing, that are too readily perceived as largely gendered. I boldly juxtapose these practices with themes and scales that offset any singular understanding of what a specific technique (and its materiality) is and does, historically and now.”

Enjambment (2011-2012) / Prosodies #1 (2013) / Prosodies #3 (2013)

Transmissions, 2013

Prosodies #1, 2013

Eric May: Artist Feature & Playlist

ericchristophmay.com

E 2 Tha Z 2, Flyer for Piranha Club #3 with Jonathan Zaragoza and E-Dogz, 2012

E 2 Tha Z 2, Flyer for Piranha Club #3 with Jonathan Zaragoza and E-Dogz, 2012

” My work explores relationships with food- where it comes from, who is producing it, and how we eat it. Through cooking, writing, and hosting participatory events and public interventions, I hope to arrive at a heightened awareness of the meaning of food and its practices.

Food is inherently social, so my practices strive to provide a catalyst for engagement and conviviality, while often approaching subject matter that has a weight of social consequence. The practices of cooking and eating are undeniably central to our lives and thusly are an easy-to-pick up conversation topic that transcends social differences. A sense of service runs throughout my practices, which began in my professional career in food service. The form of service naturally became a comfortable way for me to engage with audiences about issues of food production and consumption.

Midwest BBQ Migration, Installation/event shot, 2012

Midwest BBQ Migration, Installation/event shot, 2012

Hors D'oeuvres and Cocktails in the Garden, Spam paté with Kool-aid pickle, 2012

Hors D’oeuvres and Cocktails in the Garden, Spam paté with Kool-aid pickle, 2012

In some works I examine progressive food sourcing such as foraging or re-evaluating invasive species as potential urban food sources. These projects confront preferences and prejudices towards certain foods and suggest a shift in cultural attitudes toward a sustainable, common sense relationship with food.

Other works challenge dominant power structures that serve capital gains over collective health and well being. Whether addressing the industrial junk food diet of the public school student or the denial of a last meal to a prison inmate on death row, my work addresses institutional systems that impair a just diet for all peoples.

In my recent work, I focus on cultural heritage– the traditions, the stories, and the evolution of cuisines. These projects document and celebrate cultural histories, such as Hot Mix: An Exploration of South Side Foodways, a research, exhibition, and food event-based project, which proposes that the South Side of Chicago has a unique culinary history that reflects the movements of populations over time in the region. As a native South Side Chicagoan, this project reflects my own personal cultural traditions from my German ancestry to the hotdog stand fare I enjoyed in my youth. “

A New Menu Item at Super Sub, My friends at Super Sub added fried pigeon to their menu for me, 2010

A New Menu Item at Super Sub, My friends at Super Sub added fried pigeon to their menu for me, 2010

A Pigeon Dinner, Flyer for Piranha Club #5, 2012

A Pigeon Dinner, Flyer for Piranha Club #5, 2012

I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, within striking distance of both decent taco joints and wooded ravines alike. My undergraduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago led me first to the big city and then to a forested, idyllic hamlet called Ox-Bow in western Michigan. My summers at Ox-Bow have taught me invaluable lessons about love, work, and community. I’ve stuck around ever since, working as a dishwasher, a cook, and since 2004, the chef. It was always a challenge for me to find a similar spirit of fellowship in the city, which led me to the conviviality of Chicago’s bourgeoning alternative art space scene. Equipped with the stove I learned to cook on, a gaggle of talented buddies, and a pretty primo location, I opened Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center in 2006. After burning out in the studio and returning to the kitchen time and time again to express myself, I realized that I better start figuring out how to frame my cooking as art and I found this language in the MFA program at Northwestern University. I now run a theoretical food truck called E-Dogz from which I celebrate street food traditions and develop mongrelized recipes. In 2011, I began the Piranha Club, a monthly dining situation for which I collaborate with chefs from both the art and food worlds to explore provocative ideas about cuisine. 

International Hot Dog Forum, Menu, 2010

International Hot Dog Forum, Menu, 2010

International Hot Dog Forum, Hot dog recipe varieties served at the event, 2010

International Hot Dog Forum, Hot dog recipe varieties served at the event, 2010

I met Eric May when I was a work-study student in the kitchen the very first summer I attended Ox-Bow, the summer after my first year of undergrad at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (just about 5 years ago now). Since then, I have returned to Ox-Bow a couple times and have attended numerous exhibition openings at Roots & Culture where Eric is usually to be seen serving beer, wine, and sometimes home-cooked snacks from behind the counter in his kitchen which opens into the gallery. Not mentioned in Eric’s artist statement or bio is his role and history as a DJ. Every Friday night at Ox-Bow, you will be sure to find Eric not on the dance floor but behind the turn tables at the weekly costume party. This summer, while attending Shannon Stratton’s Party As Form class at Ox-Bow, I was lucky enough to hear Eric give a history of his experience as a DJ, complete with photos of old costume parties from Ox-Bow’s history and a mixtape playing in the background. It seemed only right to ask Eric to put together a playlist for Make Space to be posted (below) along with images and writing about his work. - Etta

E73

Download Eric May’s MAKE playlist here!

  1. Loaded / Primal Scream
  2. Double Dutch / Malcolm McLaren
  3. Magdalena (Exclusiva Gales) / Erick Rincon
  4. Rumours / Sepalcure
  5. Inspector Norse /Todd Terje
  6. Countdown / Pulp
  7. I Wonder If I Take You Home (feat. Full Force) / Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam
  8. A Daisy Chain 4 Satan / My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult
  9. Knock Me Down / Red Hot Chili Peppers
  10. Torn Apart (feat. Rita Ora) / Snoop Lion
  11. Collard Greens (feat. Kendrick Lamar) / Schoolboy Q
  12. Smoke Again (ft. Ab-Soul) / Chance The Rapper
  13. Tan Leather / Action Bronson
  14. She a Go (feat. Spinn & Taso) / DJ Rashad
  15. Heartbreaks + Setbacks / Thundercat
  16. Bank Head (Extended) [Prod. Kingdom] / Kelela