Artists in Conversation:

Eleni Vryza

As a process of storytelling, how can mask making help young people to identify cross-culturally?

I graduated from The Central Academy of Drama in China where I
studied painting. We studied painting and also opera make-up, working with
different artists. I was really fascinated by Beijing opera’s stylized make-up and
extremely beautiful costumes. They occupy the whole stage and their costuming
also conveys meaning about the story and what characters are represented. My
artwork conveys those characters and their dynamic stories with
representational masks.

James Barry and Hui-Min Tsen

How do you engage your audience in your project's process?

On the surface, our ties to exploration take an obvious
form. The over-riding structure of our
project, the Mt. Baldy Expedition, is that of a journey. We are building a 12-foot wooden sailing
dinghy that we will sail from Chicago to Mt. Baldy,
a sand dune in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. In addition to this, we have been performing
lectures and workshops to share our discoveries with the world.

Brian Kapernekas

A Studio Practice on the Move

For artists traveling abroad or in residency programs, the reality of the studio in constant flux is always being addressed. For some, a studio practice is non-existent or manifests in ways specific to the work. As a painter and sculptor, maintaining a studio practice is vital and inherent to my process. It has been a given for me—having a separate, physical space for my art work—of which no question has had to be asked about its necessity, until recently.

Alison Ruttan

How do you use your art as an impetus for social dialogue?

I am a visual artist whose work interests have landed me in the field of Evolutionary Biology.

Shawn Stucky

How did you discover screen printing as a medium?

I began screen printing in 2006 as a way to relieve stress and to put my personal feelings into a form I could easily understand. Creating something beautiful and sharing it with those around me was a way for me to communicate my feelings. The truth is, I never intended my work to be seen by anyone beyond a close circle of my friends.

Sarah Ward, South Chicago Art Center

As a not-for-profit, how do you select which opportunities to apply for and which ones to ignore?

The South Chicago Art Center was established in 2001 to address a pressing need in one of Chicago’s most blighted neighborhoods. South Chicago was devoid of free after-school programs and local teenagers had no after-school programs available at all. The Art Center was set up to meet these needs, but also to do much more.

What is Your Most Successful Strategy for Getting Your Work out There?

About 6 years ago, I went into Gallery Mornea with a portfolio of post-baby paintings. Bert Menco had seen my work and he encouraged me to approach the Gallery. So, after years of serious motherhood to the (almost) total exclusion of art-making, I grabbed the kid, the stroller, and the portfolio and marched right in to my appointment. My reluctance was met with complete acceptance. In fact, I was included in a group show a few months later as a result of this.

Joe Chiappetta

How do you balance parenthood with your artistic practice?

The short answer is, very carefully. As a married father of three children and an artist, I can't say that I have always balanced home life and artistic activity properly. Consequently, the wife and kids get the short end of the stick. The cliché of "starving artist" should be amended with, "...brought to you by suffering family." I say this because too much art, including my own, has been made at the expense of quality time with my own flesh and blood.

Johnny Knight

What strategies work for you in balancing your art practice with your 'day job'?

How magnificent, to live the life of the working artist. Work? It’s great, I tell you! I get paid to do what I love. Most artists work a job to pay the bills; I get to pay the bills with the same camera that feeds my art. Beats telemarketing. Right?

Sure, my greatest passion is for pictures no one hires me to take. But I try to let my work placate the muse. I churn out pretty pictures for my client base all year. I make actors look intriguing and, I daresay, hot. I help the noble theatre artist tell his story. (Never mind my own stories, I get paid. At least enough to keep the basic cable on.)

Polly Ullrich, Art Critic

What questions do you hear most from artists?

Polly Ulrich (1950-2011) was a well-respected art critic in Chicago for many years.  This interview with her was conducted by CAR associate Tom Burtonwood in 2008.

The main question I get from artists is a request to write about their art work. My reply is that if an artist takes the time to get in touch with me in person in order to ask this question, I will always ask for more information about their work if I don't have it already. I will also say that I don't always have control over whether I will write or not--it must be approved by an editor at a magazine. I take a great deal of time and research in writing about an artist which means that I write fewer reviews and essays in general.

William Rattner - Lawyers for the Creative Arts

What do Lawyers Have to do with Art?

I don't have a story, I have a plea to the arts community, based on hundreds of stories told by the artists who come to us for help. My plea is simple, and not very original. I am urging each of you to realize that, whether or not you like it, you are in business.

Carol Ng-He

How has your education changed your career path?

The decision to attend graduate school became a turning point in my career path and artistic life. Some people advised me that one should clearly know his or her career goals and skills before even applying for graduate school. Honestly, it wasn't precisely like this in my situation.

Dominic Molon, MCA

What questions do you hear most from artists (and what do you answer)?

UPDATED: Dominic Molon left the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2010. He is now the Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.  

Interview conducted by CAR associate Tom Burtonwood

Typically the question I hear most from anyone regards the process by which exhibitions are conceived, proposed, and scheduled. My answer is basically that, in the case of a solo artist, of the many artists whose work interests me I decide which one(s) might be appropriate for a particular kind of exhibition at the MCA, often taking into account whether their work has been presented in a solo museum show in the United States.

Patric McCoy, Diasporal Rhythms

Collecting Contemporary Visual Images in the African Diaspora as Fine Art

"Our music produces many images
painters would seemingly go
berserk with images
God has thru us
revealed all these, images"

- Laurence Jones, Images.

Duncan MacKenzie, Bad at Sports Podcast

How did Bad at Sports get started?

Bad at Sports is a weekly podcast produced in Chicago that features artists talking about art and the community that makes, reviews and critiques it. Shows are usually posted each weekend and can be listened to on any computer with an Internet connection and speakers or headphones. Past shows can be accessed via the Bad at Sports website.

Jiba Anderson - Griot Enterprises

How Have You Become More Legal-savvy in Your Artistic Career?

Every artist has to remember that, first and foremost, art is a business. If you don't want to face that fact, then do not try to survive off of your talent. Find something else to do. With that being said, I have learned early on that artists need to protect themselves.

Tom Van Eynde

As an artist yourself, how did you start shooting slides for other artists?

Photographing other artists’ work is not as rewarding as doing your own work, but it does allow me to do my own art without having to worry about funding.

Davis and Langlois

How have you cultivated relationships with curators?

If the art world has a food chain it probably looks like this: Curator–Gallery—Artist.