We Are Safe Here

Opening: Friday, May 7, 2021 3 – 8 pm
Friday, May 7 – Jun 16, 2021

2130-40 W. Fulton, Unit B.
Chicago, IL 60612

Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to present We Are Safe Here, a solo exhibition of new works by the BOLT artist-in-residence, Leticia Bernaus. The exhibition will have an opening day on Friday, May 7, by appointment only, from 3-8pm. Please reserve your time here.

"Touch is the key to all our physical sensations, whether a feeling be triggered by a foreign substance worming its way within, or something born inside the body itself inflict a pain, or when in the conceiving act of love, the outward flow delights; or when the bodys particles, struck by blow, are shaken up, and throw the senses in confusion. No? Then try this small experiment, and strike, with your own hand, any area of your body, then you will understand."

- Lucretius, Rerum Natura

What is it, again, to be a body? To exist as beings, no less physical than the world around us? What is gained by us having skin?

Much of our wisdom accrues through our hands. Through these permeable sensors, we slowly shape and nurture our surrounding reality, and, in turn, we are shaped and nurtured by it. In Bernaus' new body of work, the artist has been investigating touch as a medium for interpretation, as a literal and metaphorical synapse that connects us to the material world. In her works, the hand becomes the medium for exploration --- a gesture where the hand interacts with the world and one's empirical truth takes hold.

Skin is the magical boundary, the accessible layer where the inner self and the outer world are in balance, creating new knowledge and understanding. We Are Safe Hereemerges from the intersection of a profound self-examination and a material research that strives to embody the physical and spiritual aspects of our existence.

In times when virtual environments have forced a layer of immateriality onto our everyday lives, distancing us from the reality we inhabit, this exhibition exhorts the viewer to remember that all things, including mental states and consciousness, are the result of a material interaction. Matter is an archive of transformations and relations. Matter is a self-organizing totality to which we all belong. Bernaus' interventions question the fundamental principles of interrelations between all matter, while also considering how to step beyond the shared sense of community in online environments. The artist seeks to give our existence a feeling of genuine planetary union; in other words, how to turn the body into a world.

We Are Safe Here depicts the alchemic moment where a unique encounter takes place. Everything that happens, writes Lucretius, the experience of pleasure, the winds blowing, the flowers blooming in the spring, the beasts rutting, the poet composing—everything has the same essential cause. This exhibition is an invitation to slow down and contemplate, to breathe and meditate. We Are Safe Here is a visual mantra for reconnecting one's body with its role as a sanctuary for the interactions with the universe. The essential cause lives in all of us—We Are Safe Here encourages viewers to touch it.


This project is supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Image: Leticia Bernaus, We Are Safe Here, 2021, Photograph, Dimensions vary.