Artists in Conversation:

Rahmaan Statik

Art for the Neighborhoods

How do you describe your artwork?

My artwork represents the human experience and survival in an urban environment. The mediums I use are spray paint, acrylic paint, oil paint, and digital media. I've created projects of various scales—8x11 inches, 200 feet wide, and 40 feet tall.

Lindsay Obermeyer

Err with Caution: Why I Carry Insurance

Disasters occur everyday: rivers overflow, buildings burn to the ground, earthquakes happen... You think you are immune to them until you find yourself smack-dab in the middle of one.  

In summer of 2010, after a particularly heavy rainstorm, the sewers backed up throughout much of Chicago. Four inches of soupy brown water with bits of this and that sprinkled throughout filled my studio.

Nikki Jarecki

An Awareness of the Natural World

How do you describe your artwork?

I work by stitching over drawings on small pieces of linen, cotton canvas, or animal hides. The drawings are based on inspiration from observations and nonfiction concerning the natural world. I want the narrative to be immediately obvious to the viewer.

Sam Kirk

Capturing the Vibrancy of Local Culture

As an artist, why have you chosen to work in Chicago?  

I was born and raised in Chicago. If I were born to a wealthy family, maybe I'd be an artist painting somewhere else, but I'd eventually come back home to Chicago. I adore this city. It's impossible to stop learning or finding inspiration here.

Kerry Reid - Theatre Critic

Lots and Lots of Shows: The Life of a Freelance Theatre Critic

For many theatre artists, the role of a critic is perpetually bipolar: They’re either the ever-dissatisfied foil or the angel from on high, in either case wielding the power to make or break a show or company in 250 words or less.

Cheryl Williams - Artist/Activist

Giving Back: Coordinating Community Art Projects with Kids

I have been involved in creating art opportunities in underserved communities using available public spaces. My goal in developing these art projects is to engage children and encourage parents to interact with their children.

Irene Pérez

“Do It Yourself” Does Not Mean Do It Alone

If there’s one thing that has become critical to my artist practice, it’s the drive to make things happen beyond my studio. This drive comes from a desire to both materialize my art projects and to exchange ideas and collaborate with others.

Chicago has a long and rich history of independent art spaces, most of which have been created and run by working artists.

Karla “FyreMouff” Armour, T'izm Sound Productions

Creating Chicago's First Urban Recording Label

I own a record label. Those five words are impressive to almost any person I've uttered them to, and yet I inwardly cringe despite my confident delivery of this statement. Maybe it's because constantly writing music and shooting out electronic press kits (EPKs) are difficult tasks that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy—if I had one.

Keith Parham

Lessons in Lighting Design

Keith Parham's career has all the hallmarks of the classic Chicago theatre success story: an East Lansing, Michigan, native, he moved to Chicago to attend DePaul's Theatre School, cut his teeth in the city's storefront and regional theatres, rode the wave of a prominent hit (Next Theatre's 2007 musical adaptation of The Adding Machine) to a run in New York and a raft of awards, and is now enjoying the sometimes frenetic life of artist-in-demand. What makes Keith's story unusual is his role: lighting designer.

The Open Space Project

Performance Opportunities for Emerging Dance Artists

Interview with Erin Kilmurray, with help from Suzy Grant and Anna Normann. This story includes editorial support from CAR Dance Researcher Meida McNeal.

What's the story behind The Open Space Project? How was it conceived?

Josh Chicoine

Achieving Balance in an Evolving Art Career

There’s this great quote from Wallace Shawn at the beginning of My Dinner with Andre: “When I was ten years old, I was rich, I was an aristocrat, riding around in taxis, surrounded by comfort, and all I thought about was art and music. Now I’m 36, and all I think about is money.” 

I am no aristocrat, but there was a time in my mid 20s, right around 1999, that Chicago was full of artistic promise and possibility.

Matt and Roxy Goebel

Art Collecting Our Way

Collecting art has more unwritten rules than baseball. And we’ve broken most of them. There’s absolutely nothing cohesive about our collection or systemic in our approach to acquiring work (which, perhaps, doesn’t make us incredibly different than others who take the time to collect—or maybe it does).

We’ve bought art at auction, off the Internet, from galleries, and directly from artists. We’ve bought from vendors off the street and from some of the most prestigious art institutions in the world.

Paddy Noonan, IMRadio

Launching the Internet's First Open-Source Music Station

IMRadio is an Internet radio station based in Chicago that plays more than 50,000 songs from 10,000 musicians and has one full-time employee: that’s me, Paddy Noonan. It's my job to schedule all of these songs on more than 400 streams of music. I also help artists use IMRadio to promote their music,

Kathy Cunningham

Teaching and Trust: Creativity and Learning Throughout Life

My initial degree was in Music Education and Music Therapy, then came a Master of Pastoral Studies, and finally a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While studying music, I would always come well-prepared for each lesson. At my final lessons, when both my bassoon and percussion teacher knew I would no longer be their student, they told me the same thing: They admitted they’d routinely given me twice what they thought I was capable of. All along, I’d believed that they thought I could handle it!

Peter N. Gray

Science as a Jumping-Off Point in Sculpture

As an artist, I attempt to share my admiration for molecular structures and functions by conveying a sense of their beauty and harmony. For scientists, aesthetics is not foreign to the process of discovery. The works of many philosophers, artists, and scientists (as far back as we have records) demonstrate a relationship between research and the search for beauty, between Art and Science, between artistic creation and the molecular structures of the living world.

Lisa Gonzales

Happy Accidents: Improvisation as Art Making

I found improvisation by accident. I was seeking deep engagement in the moment—in the form of a dance class—and happened into a college dance program at Middlebury College, in Middlebury, VT, where improvisation is foundational to every aspect of the curriculum. As a prospective student, I remember going to watch a dance class, expecting to see something familiar to me, such as jazz or ballet. What I had happened upon, however, was improvisation.

Judy Natal

Artist Residencies: The Permeable Edges and Moveable Walls of Your Art Practice

Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programs provide unique opportunities for artists to expand their creative practice and broaden their professional networks in ways unimagined while sitting in a studio. And that’s the point: to shake up perspectives and disrupt work habits in pursuit of new inspirations and influences.

Elysabeth Alfano

Elysabeth Alfano - Fear No Art Chicago

Fear No ART Chicago on WTTW: How I Got From There To Here

When I started my first two businesses in the arts, I had no idea what I getting myself into. When I created the TV show "Fear No ART Chicago" and, inadvertently, a production company, I couldn’t have been further from understanding what was involved.

Katie Keller, Graceful Works

Where Has the Concept Gone? Embracing Originality in Graphic Design

Concept. Line. Color. Layout. Juxtaposition. Contrast. Texture. Movement. Dominance. Space.

These are crucial elements of design. By putting them to use, we artists hope to shed a revelatory light upon the viewers of our work: the revelation of a breakthrough concept. If our audience walks away refreshed, contemplative, reflective, and even changed, we have succeeded. We’ve made our impact.

Jeff Bouthiette

Perpetual Play: How pursuing more than one avenue became my "thing."

“You’re a talented guy, but if you want to write theater music, you need to focus. I don’t know what’s going on with this whole ‘acting thing,’ but you can’t get distracted by that.” My mentor sipped from his cardboard coffee cup, pursing his lips as he considered how to get his point across without being mean.