Julie Rodrigues Widholm makes Newcity’s Art 50 2015 list- Chicago’s Visual Vanguard
September 21, 2015
Long heralded as a mecca for alternative practices, collectivity and socially engaged art, Chicago increasingly finds itself among the most visible international art destinations precisely because of its distinct character and openness to change and growth. What makes this city fertile ground for launching new talent and sustaining confirmed genius? A complex and ever-changing network of curators, collectors, administrators, critics, dealers, educators and other enthusiasts cultivate Chicago’s artistic vitality and diversity. The Art 50 is Newcity’s annual snapshot of Chicago’s art ecosystem. This year, we track the power players who shape the terrain in which we thrive.
The Art 50 was written by Elliot J. Reichert, Maria Girgenti, Abraham Ritchie, Kate Sierzputowski and B. David Zarley.
DPAM is a Proud Partner of EXPO CHICAGO! For more on programming information and tickets, visit expochicago.com
DPAM names Julie Rodrigues Widholm as new director
July 8, 2015
CHICAGO — DePaul University has named Julie Rodrigues Widholm, a nationally recognized curator of contemporary art, as director for the DePaul Art Museum located on its Lincoln Park Campus. Widholm brings 16 years of experience from her career with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and will join DePaul Aug. 31.
Widholm will step into the position held on an interim basis by Laura Fatemi, associate director of the museum. Fatemi succeeded Louise Lincoln, who served for 17 years as director.
“Julie brings exceptional experience to this role and will help expand the DePaul Art Museum’s commitment to Chicago artists and its fine reputation in Chicago and beyond,” said the Rev. Edward Udovic, C.M., vice president for teaching and learning resources. “With her vision, the museum is poised to enter a new era of growth in collections, exhibitions and philanthropic support.”
Widholm has curated more than 50 exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, including major shows such as “Doris Salcedo,” the first museum retrospective for the Colombian artist. That exhibition is currently on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York this summer and will also travel to Perez Art Museum in Miami in spring 2016.
“I admire the beautiful new museum space at DePaul and, in the last few years, there has been great momentum around the museum and its exhibitions,” she said. “I look forward to creating a vision for the exhibition program and related events that promotes interdisciplinary thinking and explores how art is relevant to all facets of life. I plan to put DePaul Art Museum on the cultural map of nationally-recognized art museums.
“With an international program that creates a global perspective through the lens of art,” Widholm said, “I envision the DePaul Art Museum as a space for dialogue around diverse experiences, which supports the university’s mission of social justice and inclusion, and an innovative space for teaching and learning.”
In her current role as curator, Widholm oversees three to seven exhibitions a year. She has published extensively, researching and writing publications for each show.
Widholm said she is particularly proud of providing opportunities for artists and commissioned Chicago-born sculptor Amanda Ross-Ho’s first outdoor public art project, “The Character and Shape of Illuminated Things.” The artist’s work, as well as the MCA’s marketing efforts, drew a “phenomenal” response on Instagram and other social media sites, creating conversations around the role of public art.
She also supports women and Latin American artists, such as Amalia Pica, whose first major American solo exhibition Widholm co-organized with MIT List Visual Art Center, and last year curated “Unbound: Contemporary Art after Frida Kahlo,” bringing forward artists who share Kahlo’s spirit of rebellion.
In addition to her curatorial work, Widholm has raised as much as $1.5 million from private donors to support exhibitions.
Widholm began her career at the MCA as a research assistant in 1999 and rose through the ranks to assistant curator and associate curator before beginning her current role in 2012. During that time, she earned a reputation for highlighting the work of emerging and local artists by curating dozens of 12×12: New Artists/New Work exhibitions. Her landmark exhibition “Escultura Social” brought work from young artists in Mexico City to Chicago for the first time. She also organized artist Rashid Johnson’s first major solo exhibition in 2012, which toured to Miami, Atlanta and St. Louis.
“I’m committed to making Chicago a world-class city for the arts,” she said. Although Chicago is her adopted home, it’s the place she has lived the longest. Growing up, Widholm’s family moved around the world with her father’s job, from Brazil and Mozambique to Portugal and Germany, as well as to cities throughout the U.S. These travels influenced Widholm “in every way,” she said. “Art is a space where you can engage with ideas and experiences that are different than your own. It’s very important to be able to do that in this world.”
Widholm earned bachelor’s degrees in art history and political science from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and a master’s degree in art history, theory and criticism from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
Founded in 1898, DePaul University is an educational institution distinguished by its Catholic history and urban character, which are deeply rooted in the fabric of Chicago. The DePaul Art Museum extends the university’s commitments to excellence, diversity and social concerns through its innovative exhibitions, programs and events.
The museum’s strong interest in Chicago art is likewise in keeping with the university’s local heritage. Its exhibitions and collections are enriched by the wide-ranging expertise of DePaul faculty and provide space for faculty and students to pursue innovative approaches to art and culture. The museum has an established history of presenting exhibitions that appeal to the breadth of Chicago’s audiences while maintaining a high standard of academic and intellectual integrity.
The DePaul Art Museum serves as a visual arts resource for the university and the greater Chicago community. In recent years the museum has grown in size and visibility with a state-of-the-art 15,000 square foot, three-story building that opened in 2011 at 935 W. Fullerton Ave., just east of the CTA’s Fullerton ‘L’ stop. It has been widely praised for its welcoming exterior and versatile galleries. More information is available on the museum’s website.
Liminal Infrastructure and Glowing Wavelengths in Between
May 14, 2015
See Chicago through the original photographic lens at DePaul Art Museum’s ‘Liminal Infrastructure’ exhibition May 14
CHICAGO — A massive shipping container rolled through Chicago last fall, but instead of carrying cargo, it was taking stunning photographs of the city and its surrounding waterways.
The resulting images are part of the exhibition, “Liminal Infrastructure,” that will be on display at the DePaul Art Museum beginning May 14. Organized in collaboration with the Chicago Humanities Festival, the photographs were created using one of the world’s largest pinhole cameras, the Liminal Camera, by artists Lauren Bon, Richard Nielsen and Tristan Duke during their exploration of the Great Lakes region last October.
“The Liminal Camera breaks down the photographic process to its most basic and raw elements,” said Greg Harris, curator of the exhibition. “It makes people step back and think about how photographs originally came into the world, and that is really important in a time when our lives are inundated and saturated with digital images.”
The exhibition will include large-scale photographs of the Chicago landscape, measuring up to 8 feet on the longest side, according to Harris. The dramatic proportions are uniquely suited for extreme horizontal and vertical photos. Perfect for the prairie city that gave birth to the skyscraper, he said.
The photos on display are part of the latest chapter of the Liminal Camera’s expedition across the Great Lakes region. During the Chicago Humanities Festival last fall, the artists invited people inside the Liminal Camera to experience the camera obscura technique in action and to see how they perform the photographic process.
The technique involves fashioning a hole on the side of a darkened box to produce images inside of it. It’s a centuries-old practice that led to the creation of photography and the modern camera. When the image is projected in the box, a photograph can be made when that image is transferred to photographic paper and processed in a darkroom.
Anticipating the need to make the Liminal Camera portable for their expedition, the artists made the shipping container completely self-sustained; it produces its own solar energy and even doubles as a darkroom.
Since 2010, the artists, who are part of the Optics Division of the Los Angeles-based Metabolic Studio, have canvased the continent to document issues of water resources from the dry West to New York’s waterways. The topic is pertinent to Chicago since it is built around waterways, and reliant on a network of transportation that moves around water. “Even for those who are familiar with the city of Chicago, ‘Liminal Infrastructure’ is a truly unexpected and rare way for people to see the city’s infrastructure and historic locales,” said Harris.
On May 14 at 4:30 p.m., the artists will recount their experience and unveil the photographs they took with the Liminal Camera in and around Chicago last fall. A public reception will follow beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event is part of the Chicago Humanities Festival 2015 spring schedule and is free and open to the public. For more information visit http://bit.ly/CHF15.
“Liminal Infrastructure” will be on display at the DePaul Art Museum May 14-Aug. 9.
Also on display at the DePaul Art Museum will be artist Sonja Thomsen’s “Glowing Wavelengths In-Between,” May 14-Aug. 9. In her exhibition, Thomsen utilizes an array of materials that refract and reflect light as means to creative discovery. The resulting pieces are vibrant color photographs, immersive photographic murals and faceted metallic sculptures. Thomsen’s layered works create an interactive experience for the viewer that provokes an awareness of light, space and time.
The DePaul Art Museum at 935 W. Fullerton, just east of the CTA’s Fullerton ‘L’ stop, is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For more on the DePaul Art Museum’s upcoming exhibitions and events, call 773-325-7506 or visit http://bit.ly/DPAM15.
Rooted in Soil connects art, environmental science DePaul Art Museum exhibition features 15 artists, debuts Jan. 29
CHICAGO — Beneath the grass and pavement that cover Chicago lies a vital, under-valued ecosystem that gives rise to a new art exhibition — “Rooted in Soil” — opening Jan. 29 at the DePaul Art Museum.
Curators Laura Fatemi, interim director of the DePaul Art Museum, and her daughter Farrah Fatemi, an environmental scientist and assistant professor at Saint Michael’s College, combined their knowledge of art and science to explore the underappreciated role of soil in human life.
“Farrah’s interest in the environment inspired me,” said Laura Fatemi. “Soil is a fundamental component to our lives and health that we often ignore, and throughout history artists have contemplated our relationship to nature. ‘Rooted in Soil’ offers viewers a unique way to engage with environmental issues through the arts.”
“We are really examining the human connection to natural cycles in this exhibit,” said Farrah Fatemi, an alumna of the College of Science and Health at DePaul University. “We saw this exhibit as a compelling way to combine artistic and scientific perspectives to raise awareness about issues of soil health and degradation.”
Upon entering the museum, visitors will encounter a hanging terrarium built by artist Vaughn Bell, whose work challenges city dwellers to reconnect with nature. Bell invites viewers to enter the biosphere of the terrarium and peer out across the surface of the soil.
An installation in the show from Chicago-based artist Claire Pentecost, “Our Bodies, Our Soils” recalls an apothecary with tinctures of soil from the city that visitors can examine and smell.
The works of John Gerrard and Edward Burtynsky address how large-scale farming practices are altering the landscape and degrading the soil. Gerrard’s animation “Dust Storm (Manter Kansas)” uses 3-D gaming software to reimagine the Dust Bowl era. He scrutinizes this historical environmental disaster and connects it with modern times, using footage of burning oil fields to suggest another impending environmental crisis. Burtynsky’s large-scale aerial photographs of pivot irrigation reveal the vastness of the human imprint on the earth’s surface.
“Human activities such as large-scale farming and deforestation have compromised the health of soil on a global scale,” Laura Fatemi said. “DePaul is committed to addressing issues of social concern, and this is an environmental topic that affects all of us. We hope people will step back from the exhibition and have gained some insight on an important resource we depend on for our well-being.”
Other artists offer radical and innovative solutions for conserving the environment, said Laura Fatemi. “The Infinity Burial Project” from Jae Rhim Lee includes a burial suit that combines technology and design to make funeral processes more ecologically friendly. Activist and artist Jenny Kendler’s “Milkweed Dispersal Balloons” performance includes balloons filled with wildflower seeds, which visitors are invited to scatter as part of re-engaging with their environment. Julia Goodman makes papyrus from beets, an act that reminds viewers how scarce paper used to be and how easily it is consumed now.
Several artists depict the cycles of nature and decomposition. Jane Fulton Alt photographs controlled prairie fires in Northern Illinois for her “Burn” series, showing destruction and new growth fueled by fire. Sally Mann’s photographs of decay remind viewers of our eventual return to the earth.
Calls of songbirds and the thrum of Lake Shore Drive are heard in the sound installation, “Rooted in Sound.” Recordings were gathered by the Chicago Wildsounds Project, a student group in DePaul’s environmental science department led by professor Liam Heneghan. The ongoing sound ecology project seeks to measure the correlation between soil health and sound.
An opening reception will be held Jan. 29 with several of the artists attending and the curators giving a gallery talk. The exhibition closes April 26. For more information on events related to “Rooted in Soil,” visit http://museums.depaul.edu/.
The DePaul Art Museum at 935 W. Fullerton, just east of the CTA’s Fullerton ‘L’ stop, is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call 773-325-7506 or visit http://museums.depaul.edu/.
Panel Discussion: "Art, Communication, and Consumerism" | Nov. 5th, 2015
Corey Postiglione (artist and critic, Columbia College), Kim Erwin (communication design, innovation, and media specialist, Institute of Design/IIT), and Brian Ulrich (artist/photographer, Rhode Island School of Design) address issues of art, communication and consumerism in the context of Matt Siber’s Idol Structures.