In the dark, warm evenings when I would visit Jamaica, I remember overhearing my father from the porch. Sitting with men laughing, reasoning, arguing with one another, challenging and sharing one another’s beliefs, politicking; loudly. Under green lights, bamboo leaves gently stirring, low visibility, high aural stimulation, I listened on. They were often the same men who labored together during the day. There was a warmth to that space and I relate it now to creating a space that honors accessibility and how that is or is not visible.
Eliza Myrie images postcolonial & diasporic spaces—particularly of Jamaica around the artist’s family home—to question formal and conceptual devices that grant or obstruct access. Investigations into the elusive and sometimes contradictory conditions for intimacy and privacy take new shape in response to the Arts Club’s garden site. She asks, what can be cultivated in a garden? How do things grow inside of a fence? Myrie thus pronounces the dilemma of an art world space inviting the public to enter, even as its conventions and structures challenge the possibility of welcome. In garden/ruinate, Myrie intervenes directly upon The Arts Club’s infrastructure, dismantling and reimaging the garden fence as a gate, refitted with a rebar steel patterning of a Caribbean vernacular. It thereby echoes, if distantly, neighborhood porches and stoops that Myrie associates with the precarious right to assembly, as predicated on principles of colonial land ownership and disproportionately policed within black and diasporic communities. She therefore hopes to construct a site that might trouble the comfort of hospitality and luxury of leisure afforded to some through the work of so many more.
The installation will open a gate to The Arts Club of Chicago with its collateral programming series entitled Tie Up, to reference the idea that one might get side-tracked by lingering. These monthly public gatherings will include conversation, sound, and poetry, among other things, so feel free to drop by and hang out.
Eliza Myrie, b. 1981, New York. Myrie is a sculptor working in Chicago, IL. She received her MFA from Northwestern University and BA from Williams College and was a participant at The Skowhegan School. Myrie has been in residence at Yaddo, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, The MacDowell Colony, and Arts + Public Life at The University of Chicago. Myrie is a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a co-founder of The Black Artists Retreat [B.A.R.]. She has received grants from The Propeller Fund and 3Arts. Exhibitions include Gallery 400, Chicago; Vox Populi, Philadelphia; Shane Campbell, Chicago; Roots and Culture, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Hyde Park Arts Center, Chicago; Davidson Contemporary, New York.
Image: The Arts Club of Chicago website