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/.
August 28, 2014 WPA-era printmaking exhibit to open Sept. 11 at DePaul Art Museum
CHICAGO — Images of city life, labor and the workplace, and protests against social injustice will be among the fine-art prints in an exhibition opening Sept. 11 at the DePaul Art Museum.
The 56 prints in the exhibition were produced during the Depression, when the federal government was providing financial support to a wide range of artistic projects, from fiction to fine art, through the Works Progress Administration-Federal Arts Project (WPA-FAP).
“The prints are a window into the 1930s, a turbulent and complex time in American history,” said curator Louise Lincoln, director of the museum on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus. “It’s easy to see the hardships in the lives of ordinary people, the social and political controversies, even the disagreements among artists about what the role of art should be,” she said.
Many works addressed the nation’s economic inequality, leading some politicians to denounce the WPA as subversive, according to Lincoln. A congressional committee investigated the program as a Communist threat, and a 1938 story in the Chicago Tribune called it “a vampire political machine,” she said.
But many artists and critics believed that the WPA had helped to develop something distinctly American in American art, and artists were deeply grateful for the opportunity to earn their livelihood, Lincoln said. Franklin D. Roosevelt predicted that “one hundred years from now my administration will be known for its art, not for its relief programs.”
The exhibition includes works by such well-known artists as Stuart Davis and Rockwell Kent, and is drawn from a donation of 100 prints to the museum from the collection of Belverd Needles Jr. and Marian Powers Needles. Belverd Needles is the EY Distinguished Professor of Accountancy at the Driehaus College of Business at DePaul University; Marian Needles is an adjunct professor of executive education at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“This wonderfully generous gift carves out a new area in the museum’s collection, and will provide a rich source of exploration and enjoyment for our students and visitors,” Lincoln said.
As part of the Sept. 11 opening, a lecture on how prints were viewed by audiences in the 1930s will be presented by Helen Langa, an associate professor of art history at American University in Washington, D.C. The lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. and a public reception will follow.
On Oct. 15, a lecture on the controversies over political content in the prints will be presented by Liz Seaton, curator at Kansas State University’s Beach Museum of Art. The lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
The exhibition — Ink, Paper, Politics: WPA-era Printmaking from the Needles Collection — runs through Dec 21.
The DePaul Art Museum at 935 W. Fullerton, just east of the CTA 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 information, call 773-325-7506 or visit www.depaul.edu/museum.
Using modified IKEA products, the Linear Accelerator by Jeff Carter was built using an electric motor and light fixtures. The sculpture exhibition is one of two shows coming to the DePaul Art Museum July 10. (Image courtesy of Jeff Carter
DePaul Art Museum will feature a selection of works from the museum’s permanent collection, as well as sculptures in the form of architectural models based roughly on former Chicago structures in two exhibitions opening July 10.
“Fires Will Burn”: Politically Engaged Art from the Permanent Collection — July 10 – Dec. 21
Drawing on DePaul’s own collection, this exhibition surveys a wide range of political expression, touching on racial prejudice, immigration issues and opposition to war. It includes Diego Rivera’s painting of the Mexican Revolution; John Wilson’s searing “Down by the Riverside,” a suite of etchings about slavery; and Gerda Meyer Bernstein’s powerful installation of “The Justice Chair.” Also included in this exhibition is a seldom-seen portfolio of prints by Chicago artists protesting the Vietnam War. Although the works vary widely in subject, scale and medium, the artists share the conviction that visual images can help to bring about social change.
“We are always excited when we can create an exhibition out of our own collection; in this case we have acquired some great things recently, through gift and purchase,” said Louise Lincoln, director of the DePaul Art Museum.
“The Common Citizenship of Forms”: New Sculpture by Jeff Carter — July 10 – Aug. 31
Using ready-to-assemble components from the global home-furnishings store Ikea, Jeff Carter repurposes them into architectural models that are simultaneously familiar and a bit different. Carter is an associate professor in the department of Art Media and Design at DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. His constructions replicate buildings from the now-demolished Michael Reese Hospital campus on the South Side of Chicago, exploring the formal vocabulary of Bauhaus architecture while also considering the dilemma of modern material culture: Can mass-produced consumer goods be “good” design? Which is more socially useful: inexpensive products to buy or artisanal production and jobs?
“It is a great group of objects related to Chicago’s architectural history while simultaneously commenting on the current issue of consumerism,” said Lincoln, who brought Carter’s sculpture to the museum because it addresses important societal questions.
“Guests will be surprised and intrigued, not only to see familiar objects used in a creative way, but also for the way the pieces suggest their history and purpose. It’s a pleasure to show faculty work and these pieces are smart, accessible and have a point to make,” she said.
The DePaul Art Museum at 935 W. Fullerton, just east of the CTA’s Fullerton ‘L’ stop, is open this summer on 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. It will be closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, call 773-325-7506 or visit http://museums.depaul.edu.
CHICAGO — The DePaul Art Museum will unveil a new exhibition, “From Heart to Hand,” on April 10 featuring 23 quilts produced by African-American women. Originally organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama, the exhibition demonstrates that quilts are not just household goods, but are also a means of personal expression.“The exhibition makes a very strong argument that not all art comes in a gold frame and that some things that are made for a practical use can also be transcendently beautiful and filled with meaning,” said Louise Lincoln, director of the museum at DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus.While quilting has been around in various forms for centuries, Lincoln explains that it was approximately 15 years ago that the contemporary art world “discovered” the distinctive work of the women in the town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who created quilts with intricate patterns that resembled abstract paintings. As the Gee’s Bend artists have become famous, quilt exhibitions have grown in popularity and have been featured in major museums, including the Whitney Museum in New York.The collection on display at DePaul Art Museum will include examples from Gee’s Bend, as well as other styles and subjects from the region of western Alabama, giving viewers rich insight on tradition and community.Lincoln, who is also the curator for the exhibition, chose “From Heart to Hand” because of “the wonderful opportunity to broaden our visitors’ perspective, to understand the history of art made by women, and to extend the idea of what ‘art’ is.”“By identifying the artists by name and showing the remarkable variations and innovations they produce, the exhibition gives quilts and their makers the respect they deserve,” she said.
A series of programs will accompany the exhibition. Carolyn Ducey, curator of collections at the International Quilt Studies Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will give an introduction to the history of quilting in the South on April 12 at 2 p.m. Celebrated quilter and one of the featured exhibition artists, Yvonne Wells, will give a lecture on April 26 at 1 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information on these events, visit http://bit.ly/PUx4cp.
The exhibition will be featured at the DePaul Art Museum from April 10 – June 22.
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 information, call 773-325-7506 or visit www.depaul.edu/museum.
CHICAGO — The Russian city of Sochi, host to the 2014 Winter Olympics, is the focus of a new photography exhibition that debuts in the U.S. Jan. 9 at the DePaul Art Museum. “The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus,” by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen, also will travel to Canada and New York and be on view in Europe. The exhibition portrays Sochi at a combustible crossroads of war, tourism and history.
Under the Microscope... with Claire Pentecost
Curious to know what’s in your own backyard? Drop by with a soil sample of your own (in a plastic bag or jar) to examine under the microscope! Artist Claire Pentecost will guide your exploration within her immersive installation, “Our Bodies, Our Soils.”
Can’t make it this Friday? Claire will be at DPAM on Feb 13, 20, 27, March 6, 13, and April 3, and 24, all from 2 – 5 p.m.
Join us for a night of poetry, discussions and music organized by Chicago Wildsounds (CWS), a DePaul University student group working under the direction of ecologist Liam Heneghan. The group focuses on conserving and understanding the soundscapes heard throughout Chicago. Its mission is to spread awareness about sound and how it functions in an urban setting, particularly its interaction with nature. CWS’s installation “Rooted in Sound” will be on view in the adjoining gallery.