Material Assumptions: The Opening

Myself with Material Assumptions artists Julie Schenkelberg and Zoe Nelson.

A while back in March, I wrote a post about a show called Material Assumptions. The show, curated by myself, Liz Isakson-Dado, CJ Mace, and Jessica Cochran, Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Center for Book and Paper Arts, was part of an independent study intended to teach us about the curatorial side of fine art practice. The process was an arduous one, lasting six months and consisting of weekly meetings with much work flying back and forth through e-mail pretty constantly. Last week, all the work finally paid off, and Material Assumptions opened at the Center for Book and Paper Arts.

Installation in progress. Works by Polly Apfelbaum and Glenn Lignon can be seen in the background.

To be honest, this was my first experience as a curator, and I’ll tell you there was something so thrilling about seeing the show come together. When installation started, I was still at Penland. So, the moment I got back to Chicago, I hit the ground running with my fellow curators, putting in long days of leveling and arranging, label making, and rearranging.

Because the show was based half in work from the collection of Dieu Donne and half in commissioned work from a slew of different artists, planning was challenging. For most of the commissioned artists, we didn’t know what we were getting until we opened the boxes containing their work. Each day was like Christmas as more work arrived. It was so wonderful to see what all of the artists had done with the paper we had made for them. The work was hugely diverse, ranging from free standing sculptural pieces to traditional two dimensional prints to installation.

Her Holes II, piece by commissioned artist Zoe Nelson.

With minutes to spare, we finished all the installing and welcomed the public in to see the fruits of our (and of course all the artists’) labor. We had a great turn out, saw classmates for the first time this summer, saw old friends, and made new ones. We also hosted a panel that included talks by Melissa Potter, Deborah Boardman, Dan Devening, Ian Cooper, and Dieu Donne founder, Sue Gosin. It was a delightful discussion about collaboration and the qualities that make handmade paper such a unique and significant contemporary medium.

The show is up until August. I highly suggest a visit. Second floor, 1104 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL.