Knowing that the world sometimes forgets how wars, including civil wars, affect children, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR in Sweden asked award-winning Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman to photograph Syrian children in refugee camps and temporary shelters in the Middle East and Europe.
Wennman visited camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Germany among others where he photographed children as they slept or tried to sleep.
The photos are powerful but the stories next to each one are even more so. They make up a traveling exhibit with the #I Care, now at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, titled “Where the Children Sleep.” The I Care hash tag came from a #Who Cares question that was raised. Read More
“I look at my work sometimes as play… a kind of joyous play.”
So said artist Howardena Pindell at the Museum of Contemporary Art opening of “What Remains To Be Seen.”
Even though Pindell’s works have been in shows every year for the past several years, the current MCA exhibit is the first, all encompassing survey of her 50-year career.
It includes her move from figurative to abstraction and activism to occasional returns to figurative forms. But throughout the periods are personal reactions to what it feels like to be black and female. Yet, the playfulness is evident throughout the exhibit.
Pindell enjoyed finding different tools and materials to create art including hole punchers, file-folder stock and beveled cutouts found in a museum’s trash where she was an assistant curator.
The exhibit features several works where holes were either punched or painted by means of oak-board stencils. Some are best viewed up close to note that works that at first appears monochromatic, isn’t.
The show reveals a fascination with numbers, math, patterns and grids. Indeed, visitors who look closely will find numbers in some of the hole-punch designs.
But in some works, the holes are merely a fascinating pattern.
In another series, numbers and arrows add interest to Pindell’s video drawings as if they were instructions. Created on acetate held by static electricity to a television screen, they are an impressive, unusual form of art.
“I was looking for a fun way to use the videos,” she said. She pointed out that some people thought the numbers and arrows looked like football playbook arrows.
Another technique was cutting up postcards from her extensive travels to form collages.
Part of her “Autobiography” series, they were memory aids because a life-threatening accident in 1979 included a serious concussion that resulted in temporary memory loss.
Work that is play in Pinell’s career is based on a strong art background.
Born in 1943, Pindell graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and other art schools before getting a BFA from Boston University and MFA from Yale.
“They all wanted me to use figurative art when I was moving into abstraction,” Pindell said at the exhibit opening.
She felt some satisfaction when an influential woman in the academic art world who had expressed a negative view of Pindell’s favoring abstraction over traditional figurative style, turned up at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC’s MoMA) where Pindell was working (first as an exhibit assistant and then an associate curator). “When she saw me, she said, “Oh.”
The MCA exhibit features her different styles. But what also comes across is her use of pattern and color.
Pindell, a longtime professor of art at Stony Brook University, New York (part of SUNY, a state university), stressed the importance of understanding color depth. She pointed out that she focused on the composition of color with her painting students.”They learn it’s not just, “red,” she explained.
No matter what the subject or materials used, exhibit visitors will see how Pindell’s use of color is very effective, ranging from ethereal to a rich.
Colors, materials and pattern movements seem to draw visitors into her works. Pindell refers to that phenomenon as “space.” “What I’m working on now is space going into the painting and space going out of the painting.”
She also puts herself into her works, literally.
Tips: Don’t walk too fast past “Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87. Done in mixed media on canvas and on loan from the Nancy and Peter Huber Collection, its rich colors and patterns might obscure the fact that there is an outline of Pindell’s body in the picture
It references a former custom of expecting a widow in India to kill herself after her husband dies. It also stands for human suffering and her own experiences with being black and a woman.
Also watch her in the performance video, “Free, White and 21” (1980) when she compares black and white women’s experiences.
DETAILS: “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen,” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., now through May 20, 2018. For more information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA Chicago.
Sometimes it takes a holiday week or weekend to fit in some of the places we’ve been meaning to go and the shows we want to see. Here are some suggestions to move from sometime to the do now list for the coming holidays.
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, an exceptional retrospective of one on the 20th century’s most influential artists and designers, is at the Art Institute of Chicago, but only through Jan. 3, 2017. Moholy, as the artist is popularly known, founded the New Bauhaus school in Chicago that became the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design. Containing more than 300 works, the exhibit features several photomontages, sculptures, constructs, works in Plexiglas, color slides and abstract paintings. Organized by AIC, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the exhibit next moves to LACMA mid February, 2017. The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60603. For other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC Moholy
On Sept. 9, “Stars of Lyric Opera at Milllennium Park” showcases arias from Carmen, Eugene Onegin, The Magic Flute and Lucia di Lammermoor for a taste of the Lyric Opera’s 2016-17 season plus other operatic numbers by Mozart, Verdi, Gounod, Tchaikovsky and Wagner.
Five days later, on Sept. 14, the “Third Annual Fifth Star Awards” honors blues musician Buddy Guy, The Second City improv theater, actress/Black Ensemble Theater founder Jackie Taylor, photographer Victor Skrebneski and National Museum of Mexican Art founder Carlos Tortolero.