BY LAURA MILLER
The Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC), a 39-year old nonprofit dedicated to building a sustainable marketplace for entrepreneurial artists and creatives, recently launched several new endeavors, one of which is HATCH Projects, a pioneering artist and curatorial residency that fosters shared experimentation and creativity for 24 emerging artists and four emerging curators each year.
Built around collaboration, this fall an exhibition titled Stand So Close To Me organized by HATCH Projects resident curator Teresa Silva features new work by three artist residents - Kasia Houlihan, Ryan Peter Miller, and Rebecca Parker – linking interests in intimacy, interpersonal connections, space, and material. The exhibition opens at CAC Friday, September 6 and will also be exhibited at EXPO Chicago: September 19-22 at Navy Pier.
HATCH Projects divides artist residents into groups of six that work with one resident-curator throughout the year to produce three exhibitions while gaining insight and professional development through studio visits and public programs. This year’s curator residents were accepted into the program through an application process reviewed by four leading mentor curators: Romi Crawford, Lisa Dorin, Sarah Herda, and Lisa Yun Lee, in addition to HATCH Projects advisor Tricia Van Eck.
Current curator Silva says, “No other program like this exists in Chicago, and it’s a burgeoning moment.” Formerly, Silva held curatorial roles at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. She employed the notion of intimacy as the organizing principle for this fall’s show at CAC and states that the work and subject matter will be “lenses in which to view and tap into this primal desire for closeness.”
Recognizing that the chance to exhibit HATCH Projects at EXPO is a fantastic opportunity for the artists to show their work to an international audience, Silva believes that the group and booth will stand out representative of experimentation. Beyond the fall, Silva hopes to collaborate with artists in her Logan Square neighborhood and continue with additional exhibition proposals and residency applications.
Kasia Houlihan, Hold On, 2011
Kasia Houlihan, Tender, 2011
Following is a conversation with three artists featured in the fall show; each shared their experiences to date and thoughts on what’s ahead.
How has your involvement with this program impacted your career?
Kasia Houlihan: This is the first time I’ve participated in any kind of program like this, and I think HATCH is pretty unique in its providing individuals the opportunity to work with a dedicated curator and cohort of artists for an entire year. It’s pretty common to meet the artists with whom you’re exhibiting in a group show at the opening or perhaps even not at all. I was drawn to HATCH because of its offer of working on two shows over an extended period of time, during which I could be in close dialogue with fellow artists and a curator. Instead of creating my work alone in my studio and then simply sending it off to a curator to do with it what she will, I feel like HATCH creates a platform for the line of communication between studio and exhibition space to be a fluid, collaborative experience.
Ryan Peter Miller: HATCH has provided a unique occasion for serious artists to navigate the professional waters with tools and resources that make the city accessible and friendly – especially to someone like myself, a recent transplant to the city and an artist who did not attend an academic program in Chicago. The exposure is also a wonderful feature. I feel that some of the group and solo exhibitions I have participated in the past become padding the resume. Work is shipped off, exhibited, and returned without comment, critique, or check, as if the art took a vacation away from me for a month. The way that the CAC staff and curators have worked to make connections and promote the exhibits, the shows become more than an line item, as the exposure is facilitating visible momentum for my career. While I have participated in more traditional residencies, I have never participated in a model that integrates and encourages studio with professional practice seamlessly.
Rebecca Parker: This has been an important step for me in developing a sense of place within Chicago’s artistic community. When I began the program, I had been in the city for under a year. It has introduced me to a group of peers who are creating compelling work that I greatly respect. CAC provides a critical forum for communication between artists and curators that I have found to be really helpful. The active dialogue and critiques are an important part of the experience and have pushed me to take on some of the larger projects that I have wanted to make over the last few years. The structure of the program not only creates an opportunity for us to learn about one another’s practice, but it also gives us a perspective as to the multitude of smaller communities that we are individually involved with beyond HATCH. Most importantly, HATCH solidifies one thing that we all know- artists need a community to be a part of and CAC provides the common ground for us to engage with one another.
What is your background?
KH: I’m from New York and came here initially to attend the University of Chicago’s diverse undergrad program of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (a lot of art history, philosophy, media studies, and studio art classes). Then I worked as an artist’s assistant in Brooklyn for three years before returning to complete my MFA from UIC in 2012.
RPM: I was born in West Lafayette, IN and currently work as a painter in Ravenswood and as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. I received my BFA in Drawing and Painting from The University of Georgia in 2001, and I got my MFA in Painting from Arizona State University in 2008.
RP: I grew up in Tennessee and though I have lived in several other places, I often reflect on the culturally prescribed methodologies embedded in my upbringing to craft and navigate my artistic practice. I received my BFA in ceramics from Middle Tennessee State University and my MFA from the University of Connecticut.
Ryan Peter Miller, Untitled, acrylic paint, 6” x 8” x 5”
Ryan Peter Miller, Untitled, acrylic paint, 3" diamter each
Describe what you’re up to at the moment.
KH: Though I was officially a photography major, I surprised myself when I was making sound installations, a sculpture and a lot of text-based work alongside my photo and video work. It felt like I was chipping away at the same ideas surrounding intimacy and closeness, but each new medium let me come at the target from a different angle. So at the moment, I’m concurrently working on a collage, a text embossment, a book and a large-scale, site-specific installation. The possibilities are always endless.
RPM: My most current body of work is a series of “painthings” (sculptural objects made exclusively of paint) that play with the ideas of representation in abjection to the conventional hegemony of the image. In addition to these pieces being featured at CAC and EXPO, several of the pieces will be on display in Beijing at the Bridge Gallery in the 798 District, this fall. I am working on an exhibition for SOFA, attempting to sneak some paint into somewhere it doesn’t belong.
RP: I’m working on a video that speaks to the complexities of relationships; pairing interviews of southern women discussing their current relationship status with those same women singing Tammy Wynette’s classic and divisive song, Stand by your Man. The piece not only speaks to the judgment that is so easily cast on others’ relationships, but it also taps into my continual reassessment of roles and power dynamics for Southern women who embody the complexity of self-interest and selflessness in their relationships. I personally find a constant pull between what I know as an independent person and my culturally constructed instinct to care-take, host, and be what others might perceive as domestic.
Any plans on the horizon?
KH: I'm planning to take things as they come. I’m hoping to continue to foster the great relationships I’ve made through HATCH and do everything I can to keep the momentum going in my studio.
RPM: I am planning to keep Chicago as a home for some time to come. It is a beautiful and accessible metropolis that is growing its potential as significant international art venue. I see myself being part of that growth. I would like my academic vocation to be more connected to the city, so over the next couple of years I am working towards a full time professorship in Chicago. After HATCH, you’ll see me and my work popping up in Bridgeport and around town.
RP: HATCH has pushed me to take on some larger projects that have been percolating for quite some time. I plan to capitalize on the energy coming out of this residency to pursue a series of video projects that explore my relationship to the landscape. My current work, which is inherently collaborative, consumes an extraordinary amount of time. That collaborative process and relationship building is incredibly intriguing to me and has become a central focus in my work, but I also recognize that I sometimes need a break from the deep emotional engagement it requires. These new projects are focused in a slightly different way, allowing me to dive deep into particular issues while retaining more authorship in their presentation.
Can you comment on the significance of this exhibition, Stand So Close To Me, and your work being displayed at EXPO alongside top international galleries?
KH: It’s a great honor. I’m really excited and feeling very open to seeing what the experience will be and possibly lead to. Any opportunity to show my work in a new venue is worthwhile to me, as it is yet another chance to create dialogue and open up a discussion, either directly between myself and another, or between two people and my artwork.