This Is What We Know So Far
September 10 – September 30

It feels like we are on the other side of something. What has shifted leaves something raw about the labor of making Art; who it serves, what it takes, what it’s for. A practice needs to hold a plan, a hope, of how to live, of what to do. Making is an action, and hopefully, a continuing.

The artists in this exhibition—Sara Condo, Ben Driggs, Leonardo Kaplan, Michael Lopez, and Liz McCarthy—are experimenting with their mediums on a path that’s thorny, gnarly, layered, and anti-finished. They’re getting into the muck, with materials, with feelings. There is a seemingly endless relationship with these materials that doesn’t feel comfortable or antagonizing, but open and exploratory. Clay, wood, fabric, aluminum, ink, pages, and plants are intuitive guides, informing the objects made, with their own agency in the process.

In their idiosyncratic forms, each artist is expressing the content of their lives: taking walks in nature, digging up a basement, buying a marker at CVS, pouring metal into sand, and dredging up the contents of their studio. There’s a digging, pressing, carving, bleeding, and layering with these everyday elements that gets to something primordial. The systems and repetition used are habitual, but sustainable and rhythmic.

There’s no big answer here, more like a shared mystical purpose, a spiritual pursuit that rewards those who seek it. Looking at the work of these artists in communion with each other feels to me like a lesson in living. There is a comfort in fucked-up, a resistance to completeness, a feral commitment to getting down to the essence of something. There’s an aesthetic of sincerity that feels accessible, like a guide for a fellow hobbyist. I’ll follow their lead, learning to embrace the vulnerable art of experimenting and revealing together.

—August 28, 2021

Erin Nixon

Chicago Art Department
1926 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

September 10 – September 30
Opening Reception: Friday, September 10, 6-9pm

Featuring works by:

Sara Condo, Ben Driggs, Leonardo Kaplan, Michael Lopez, and Liz McCarthy

Organized by:
Erin Nixon

About the artists:

Sara Condo is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, Illinois. She draws from personal experiences as a living site for exploration into complexities of gender, technology, environment and the sublime. Condo works with multimedia to explore unwritten stories and deploys them in the present form to envision new futures.

Ben Driggs (b. Pekin, IL, 1981) lived next to a farm tool junkyard in rural Wisconsin during a formative period. He works in sun prints, concrete, ceramic, and metal in Little Village.

Leonardo Kaplan is a working artist in Chicago, IL. He has exhibited in Chicago with New Capital Projects and Graham Foundation, in Cincinnati at Basketshop, in Berlin at the Freies Museum, and in Miami at the NADA Art Fair with ACRE projects. He has co-directed two artist-run spaces, The Hills Esthetic Center and BOYFRIENDS.

Michael Lopez is a public school educated, married, Chicago native whose interdisciplinary practice skirts around and sometimes focus directly on lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. I am magical and if you like or own the work I make it magically absolves you of all guilt and replaces it with a feeling of perpetual authenticity and freedom.

Liz McCarthy is a Chicago-based artist combining ceramics with other mediums to interrogate material and cultural modes of collective performativity. Her mix of performance, sculpture, and installation have been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles; ExGirlfriend in Berlin; and numerous Chicago galleries. Currently she acts as Founding Director of the GnarWare Workshop ceramics school, and is Faculty in Ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

About the curator:

Erin Nixon is an art worker, writer, and film programmer. Her practice is focused on keeping artist-centered culture sustainable and preserving alternative art histories. She is currently the Development Director of ACRE Residency.

Image credits:

Sara Condo, Moosewood Cookbook, 2021, digital scanotype, archival inkjet print, 8.5 x 11,” courtesy the artist.

Ben Driggs and Ash Hudson, Wine drunk, 2018, aluminum, 36 x 28 x 7,” courtesy the artist.

Michael Lopez, A River Runs Through It with Painted Hanger, 2021, wood, felt, hydrocal, oil paint, acrylic paint, courtesy the artist.

Leonardo Kaplan, Untitled (The Pain System), 2021, marker, pencil, ballpoint pen on canvas, 24.5 x 20,” courtesy the artist. 

Liz McCarthy, Whistle Built for Thirteen, 2019, glazed stoneware, courtesy the artist.

Comments are closed.