The Big Show (Part 1): Thesis Prep

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We knew this day would come. The InterArts Thesis class enters the Book & Paper Gallery at 1104 South Wabash this week. There are long hours and dozens of cups of coffee ahead of each of us as we install, light, and prepare for the show opening on April 20th. I’m taking a break from installing A Simple Cereal…are you free? We can check and see how everyone else is doing in their spaces.[flickr id=”6941527656″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

The B&P Inner Gallery contains–arguably–the most eclectic array of work in the show. Jenny Garnett is in this space, building the workout environment for her sensor-studded exercise suit. Garnett will be performing alongside Trisha Martin’s work Breathing In City Clouds, a suspended paper sculpture piece. Martin distributed these wispy handmade paper pieces to residents in Pilsen, where the paper–when hung outside–captures carbon and residue from the Fisk and Crawford Coal plants nearby. Martin’s amalgamated cloud in the gallery rides the line of whimsical installation and horrifying ecological study of Chicago pollution.

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From Chicago to the savannah, Amy Rabas explores the complex relationship between humans and animals in A Collection of Contradictions. Her installation  space is an epic expanse of the African landscape by means of photorealistic wallpaper. The saturated colors frame a picnic table in the space that participants are encouraged to sit and read books on the “Big Five” of African hunting game. On another wall, the head of a Hartebeest (a type of Antelope) looks over viewers as they read another of Rabas’s books, this one on the biblical reasoning for dominion over animals.

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The Raw Space, our black box performance space, houses another installation addressing religion. Haley Nagy’s Biblical Lace is a massive wedding veil, knitted by over three dozen participants around the country. Nagy coordinated her knitting collaborative through Ravelry, an online community of dedicated knitters and crocheters. Together, they have created a veil that mixes words of the holy and the damned, highlighting contradictions, injustices, and faux pas of the Catholic institution. Nagy plans to hang Biblical Lace from the ceiling to create a space akin to a revival tent and sanctuary.

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Ah yes, and now let’s round back A Simple Cereal, shall we? Specifically, the expression on my face in this image above. It is called Thesis Face. It is a clinical condition (…they’re trying to get it in the textbooks, at least) ailing many graduate art students. I use my face as the example to illustrate the general look of most of my colleagues–a buzz of multitasking neurons behind a beatific, zen-like space stare. We will get through this, it will be fun…but right now, installation mode overrides the excitement of the show. We must get it done.

Our saving grace is that we’re all in this together, and the weight of such an important show is lighter because of it. It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, I am writing this blog on my breakfast table in the space. Next to me is a bowl of A Simple Cereal, with a vinyl decal next to it. I’ve had this particular vinyl for almost ten years; it was for a certain project that never came to fruition and I’ve been waiting for the right artwork in which to use it.

It is this one, right here, right now. Onward to the show…

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