Meet the Interns

This is the fourth of a five-part series introducing you to Woman Made Gallery’s interns.

Meet Brianna Soukup, WMG’S Arts Marketing Intern: 

“Brianna Soukup is a photographer from Omaha, Nebraska and moved to Chicago in August 2014. She will graduate with degrees in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December of 2014. While finishing up school, interning at Woman Made and working in Chicago, she is also a part of an ongoing interactive documentary project with several other young photographers and journalists, called Fly Over Me Valentine, a project documenting modern American rural life in Valentine, Nebraska and the surrounding communities.”

Brianna

photo by Andrew Dickinson

BRIANNA IN FOUR QUESTIONS:

 

Why did you want to intern at Woman Made? 

I wanted to intern at Woman Made because I feel really deeply about sharing the stories of women and sharing women’s work. I know from some of my experiences as a photographer what it is like to be a woman in a male-centric field. And although things are changing, there is still work to be done. I love Woman Made’s mission and I wanted to be a part of that.

 Five things that you love:

-Nebraska, and that fact that everyone else doesn’t know how awesome it is

-Taking photos

-Wine

-When you wake up in the morning and coffee is already made

-Happy crying

 Five things that annoy you to no end:

-Ignorant people

-Fake articles on the Internet

-Dirty socks on the floor

-When people speak to you in a condescending tone

-That we haven’t figured out how to travel through space and time

What do you focus on in your internship?

I am the Arts Marketing intern at Woman Made. I’m especially focused on upping our presence on social media. I’ve been running our Instagram (@womanmadegallery….shameless plug) and trying to better document all of the exciting happenings here at the gallery. I do blog posts; try to get more exposure for our events and calls for artists, etc. A little bit of everything.

Brianna on the web: http://www.brianna-soukup.squarespace.com/

Instagram: @bribeezi

Mutations of Otherness – 05-06-2014 Juror: Shoshanna Weinberger

Artwork by Lemia Bodden

Mutations are the raw materials of evolution. Mutations can be a single or collective. A single mutation can have a large effect that over time duplicates to acquire a new function or form. This can provide the basis for adaptive evolution and survival.

The artists selected for Mutations of Otherness interpret the context of mutation as organic, biological, physical, psychological, political and surreal.

Drawn to the concept of multiples in the structure and tradition of the modernist grid, artist Stefani Quam uses the repetitive size as a control to define the unique with comparatives of chance in her work Ellipses. With the work Untitled, Ellie Hunter, uses mixed media collage in the grid format, reminding us of the variants found in human genetic code system. Both Quam and Hunter have unique marks within each unified shape that contains a generation of difference and as a grid is seen as a whole.

Artwork by Susan Emmerson

In the photographic work of Lemia Bodden and Sasha Andruzheychik, the mutation is the manipulation of the photography. Bodden’s photographs from the series Untitled Couples Project are portraits of couples that allude to the pluralism of a single persona into a mutation of multiple personas. These images visually become physical movement that creates mystery far removed from a typical portrait as they interchange between what appears male and female. The viewer cannot rest on just one feature, as they appear to flip back in forth. Andruzheychik’s work stems from the Surrealist tradition of imagined psychosis that deconstructs and edits information to create a disquieting gaze found in work entitled Fetish Object. These sexual and intimate vignettes of the body are mutated forms that appear to be specimens from an historical cabinet of curiosity.

Artwork by Logan Brody

This history of exploration to uncover unique objects found cabinets of curiosity from exotic worlds extend to exploration in Lauren Levato Coyne’s work. Levato-Coyne’s drawings are imagined self-portraits. Her interest in western-culture’s capture of the “unknown” to create mythos of otherness can be seen in drawing Self Portrait as Thief in the Night, alludes to her own self-invention of otherness. Levato-Coyne’s drawings stay within the borders much like a scientific drawing within the visual border. Susan Emmerson’s ink and gouache drawing entitled Heteroclite II also stays within the border like a contained mass. Emmerson abstracts her own biology creating expanding amoebic shapes that appear to metamorphosize on the paper referencing fluid shapes made of hair, tissue and microorganisms.

Artwork by Cheryl Hochberg

The natural animal world becomes the subject of mutations and is evident in the sculptural work of Michelle Acuff and Cheryl Hochberg. Acuff’s work Surrogate, a seemingly quiet deer stands supporting tangled and multiplied antlers that almost appear like twisted intestines. The work comments on multiple issues, from the industry of controlled farming to genetically modified foods and the side effects found in nature. Hochberg’s work entitled Bertha’s Monster is a combination of nature re-designed as fused animal and human parts. This work is much like an exquisite corpse of outstretched wings, goat head and human legs that appear to crash into the space.

On a smaller sculptural scale, artists, Colby Beutel, Logan Brody and Yareth Fernandez, re-invent through material to create abstract objects. Colby Beutel’s She Shells and He Shells works transform unwanted objects into surreal sculptures. Fusing zippers to create sexualized somewhat playfully menacing forms turning them into almost secretive objects. Logan Brody’s sculpture Untitled (The Shell Game series) hints at the Proterozoic Era, the beginnings or traces of life. Brody’s architectural abstract sculptural piece reveals a human finger being birthed from primal material touching on the mutations found in evolution. In the work of Yareth Fernandez, the evolution of present day consumption is addressed as disparate objects are reinvented and re-imagined into sculptures. Fernandez’s White-spotted Blue Thing lives like a growth existing within the environment, it is un-natural but seemingly we accept it as an adaptable living organism commenting on human excess of mass-produced objects as a mutation of ideology. – Shoshanna Weinberger / May 2014

20 Neighborhoods at Chinese American Service League

The 20 Neighborhoods workshops in Chinatown took place at the Chinese American Service League (CASL), a facility founded to support the needs of Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans in Chicago.  The organization provides a wide variety of services to the community; the building has everything from childcare to cooking classes to elderly services.  The 20 Neighborhoods workshops engaged specifically with elderly women who take part in CASL’s Adult Day Program.

caslTeaching artist Elaine Luther was responsible for developing and implementing the workshop activities with the group at CASL. She and teaching artist Stephanie Wernet, who led workshops at House of the Good Shepherd, worked together to ensure that despite their distance, both of their groups would experience some elements of the cross-community collaborations that were the focus of this year’s 20 Neighborhoods Project.  Both groups worked with batik, an ancient form of painting on cloth with wax and dye.  In a more direct exchange, women from both groups worked together to create paper chains.  The women at House of the Good Shepherd created paper links inscribed with a neighborhood or city  that held symbolic importance for them. Women from CASL lengthened the chain by answering the question, “What is the best advice you have ever given?”  The women wrote their answers on a strip of paper, and then added them to the original links from HGS, creating many long chains.

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CASL_Photowalk2The women began their final project by going on a photo walk through Chinatown, with instructions to look for colors and patterns that they had not previously noticed. They used their photos to create ‘Inspiration Boards”, and from there began their project of creating images on fabric using batik, fabric dye, and pounded flowers. The main focus of the workshops was the creation of a large canvas of collective pieces of fabric that had been both batiked and dyed by pounding flowers with hammers to extract the pigment.  When it was time to hammer the flowers, the women showed more strength than one might have expected from such sweet elderly ladies! 1378681_522408214513118_619384586_n

Next, the women assembled their pieces of fabric in a patchwork-like pattern onto a large stretched canvas, creating a beautiful collective artwork that resembled a quilt made of pastel-colored cloth.  Teaching Artist Elaine Luther reports that when they were finished, many of the women decided that it didn’t look “quite Chinese enough”, so they decided to add a red and gold border; two very important colors in Chinese art and culture.

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Prior to the final exhibition at Woman Made Gallery, CASL hosted a Community Showcase and Exhibition in their grand hall. It was a grand affair, with many staff members and Chinese newspaper journalists in attendance. CASL president Bernarda Wong addressed the crowd, and praised the women for their beautiful work. Other art created by seniors in the Adult Day Program was also on display, including last year’s 20 Neighborhoods project, which was some of the first art created by seniors at CASL. The highlight was a demonstration in which the women sat around a table and created a fast version of a collaborative fabric collage to show all in attendance the work behind their masterpiece.IMG_6529

Finally, the gallery hosted some of the seniors from the Adult Day Program at the final 20 Neighborhoods exhibition. We talked about their project, and some of the other art on display. Hope to see you and your clients again soon, CASL!

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–Lydia Shepard, 20 Neighborhoods Intern

20 Neighborhoods: Collaging Memories at Hamdard Center in Edgewater

Women at the Hamdard Center for Health and Human Services came together with Teaching Artist Victoria Martinez to use fiber collage techniques as a means to tell stories about their home countries of India and Pakistan, and their current lives in Chicago. For more photos, check out the Facebook album.

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Teaching Artist Victoria Martinez wanted to design a project that would emphasize the 20 Neighborhoods Project’s emphasis on themes of community and place, while at the same time representing both her own visual history as a practicing artist and the visual aspects of the South Asian culture of the women she would be working with at Hamdard. “Once I came to Hamdard Center,” Victoria said, “I noticed the women were wearing saris, so I thought that it would be a great idea to combine some of their traditions with some of the practices I use in my studio.”

Victoria guided the group of women in creating fiber-collage illustrations based on narratives of community experiences from their home countries and from Chicago, and then sewing the collages onto saris. The final installation involves sewing the ends of each sari together to represent the crossing and union of the women’s paths.

When I first visited Hamdard Center, I saw the women were a lively bunch, chatting amongst themselves in Urdu and 1239771_517488655005074_972703421_nHindi, occasionally punctured by English words. It was evident the group is close friends. Once it was time to start writing their favorite memories, the group became quiet with concentration. On colorful paper, they wrote their fondest memories of India, Pakistan and their current homes in Chicago. Once completed, they shared their stories with the group.

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Many of the recollections expounded on each woman’s bi-cultural experiences. There were stories of their childhoods in their native countries, accounts of their proudest moments in their careers, their families, and most notably, all women spoke of their love of Chicago and the joy that the Hamdard Center brought them in creating a comfortable and creative community.

After this brief storytelling, Victoria laid out vibrant fabric paper so the women could begin crafting collages to complement their story-lines with shapes of flowers, mountains, flags, and more, all artistically arranged around their narratives.

1233576_517488541671752_1689994215_nWhen I asked the women about their pieces, they were happy to share. One woman, Shahzadi Kaleemulla, wrote a three piece memory reflection of her favorite life experiences: one as a college student in a dorm, the second as a teacher, and the third describing her move to be with her family in Chicago. Another woman, Fatma Weldingwala, wrote a narrative of her past and present, which delved into the beautiful scenery of her native country and Chicago, which she symbolically emphasized in her collage piece with a delicate, long-stemmed flower.

1381948_517488785005061_685609250_nSlowly, each woman finished her collage, and Victoria began collecting their work to begin stitching each narrative to an individual sari. Vibrant turquoise-blue, golden-yellow and burgundy-red saris displayed the women’s collages, and strung together, the effect was like an opened, rolled out scroll. Each sari was like a chapter in a book, and once the saris are stitched together, they will illustrate a communal, collective history.

–Helen Celewicz, Gallery Intern

20 Neighborhoods: Art Experimentation at Imagine Englewood If…

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This year, for Phase II of the 20 Neighborhoods Project, Living Art Center’s Women Veterans Art Group and Imagine Englewood have come together to work on a collaborative art project.  The workshops have been taking place at I.E.I., a safe space for residents of Englewood to come together and imagine a bright future for the neighborhood, and strategize on how it can be attained.  Living Arts has come to Englewood from Andersonville to participate in the project, focused around this year’s theme:  “A City of Communities.” For more photos, check out the facebook album.

IEI3blogThe group, lead by teaching artist Betsy Zacsek and art therapist and Living Arts founder Suellen Semekoski, have been experimenting with paper making techniques and sculptural construction with found sticks and yarn.  On the first day of the workshop, the participants took turns wrapping colorful yarn around the sticks, and using the opportunity to talk in a safe setting about their experiences in Englewood, Chicago, and at home with their families.  The yarn and the sticks served as a powerful metaphor: when individuals are bound together to a form a community, they are less likely to break.

During the second day of the workshop, Betsy lead the group through the process of creating handmadeIEI2 paper from cotton pulp.  The pulp was dyed to bright colors, and the participants were welcomed to experiment with paints, sculpture, pressing shapes, and cutting the edges.  As Betsy said to participants during the workshop: “Experiment until you can’t stand to look at it anymore.”  She really encouraged the group to step outside of their comfort zones and try something that they had never done before.

With one more session left to go, and more experimentation in store, save the date for Monday, October 21 to visit I.E.I. and see the final product. The Community Showcase will be held in conjunction with I.E.I.’s monthly community networking event, from 4-7pm.  All are welcome, and light refreshments will be served.

–Lydia Shepard, Gallery Intern