Photo exhibit reminds that Syrian children are also refugees and victims

 

Photo taken by Magnas Wennman of Taman, 5, who is afraid of her pillow because she doesn't understand it is not the source of her nightmares. (Photo taken by Jodie Jacobs at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.
Photo taken by Magnas Wennman of Taman, 5, who is afraid of her pillow because she doesn’t understand it is not the source of her nightmares.
(Photo taken by Jodie Jacobs at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.)

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

Work is play and serious in new MCA show

“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.”

Howardene Pindell sits in front of Nautilus, (2014-15, mixed media on canvas from the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis Collection. Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Howardena Pindell sits in front of Nautilus, (2014-15, mixed media on canvas from the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis Collection. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

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.

Segment showing the artistic use of hole punches.
Segment showing the artistic use of hole punches.

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.

Video Drawings: Swimming, 1975, chromogenic development print from the Museum of contemporary Art Chicago Collection.
Video Drawings: Swimming, 1975, chromogenic development print from the Museum of contemporary Art Chicago Collection.

“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.

"Autobiography: Fire (Suttee), 1986-87 Mixed media on canvas. Collection of Nancy and Peter Huber.
“Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87 Mixed media on canvas.
Collection of Nancy and Peter Huber.

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.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Four art shows to see over the winter holidays

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 Constructs. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Moholy-Nagy Constructs. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

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

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Museums: Last chance to experience early life in northeastern Illinois before Discovery Museum closes for a year

Lake County Discovery Museum open only through August
Lake County Discovery Museum open only through August

Families can go to the Lake County Discovery Museum in  Lakewood Forest Preserve through August. Admission is free. The museum closes September 1, 2016.

The popular hands-on Mall of History and other Discovery Museum exhibits won’t be seen by the public again until the end of 2017 when the museum reopens in Libertyville and has an admission fee.

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Upcoming: Two spectacular free events at Millennium Park in September

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.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

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.

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