Artists in Conversation:

Simon A. Smith

If You're Obsessed with Writing, Write: Simon A. Smith Interviews Himself

For this unconventional Artist Story, writer Simon A. Smith sat down with writer Simon A. Smith to discuss teaching, the Chicago literary scene, and the pros and cons of a writing career. With or without glasses, he raises some interesting points. —CAR Literary Researchers

Simon With Glasses (SWG): You’re from a very small town in Pennsylvania. What was it like moving to Chicago at the age of 19 without knowing a single soul in the city?

Maggie Kast

Writing and Dancing: Finding Community in Solitary Pursuits


When I was in my 50s, my body showed signs of wear and tear, and my lifetime career in modern dance began to limp. At the time, I was making site-specific work for dance concerts in churches, using both professional and community dancers.

Donald G. Evans, Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

Building Our Bookshelf

A bookshelf, for those of us who care deeply about literature, is a
sacred place. These are not only books we have read or will read, but a
reflection on who we are, what we like, a statement about our core
values and aesthetics. Libraries do a fine job covering the
spectrum—from diet books to operating system manuals to Bridges of Madison County—but
for our personal collections we constantly add and subtract to make
sure the titles are worthy of the precious space we have to devote to
their display.

Kathleen Rooney and Abigail Beckel, Rose Metal Press

A Home for Hybrid Genres

Rose Metal is a fusible alloy with a low melting point consisting of 50% bismuth, 25–28% lead, and 22–25% tin. Also known as “Rose’s metal” and “Rose’s alloy,” Rose Metal is typically used as a solder.

Our Rose Metal Press is an independent, not-for-profit publisher of work in hybrid genres

Jill Pollack, StoryStudio

StoryStudio: A Space for Writers

I covet the artist’s studio: all the colorful paints and glues and fabric and canvas and brushes, all the early drafts tacked to the wall. The energy in an artist’s studio floats from surface to surface, landing in the imagination to be reborn as the artist shapes it into a picture. Writers are artists, too.

Time and Space: My Residency at Ragdale

Gretchen Kalwinski

You know that project you’ve been working on for years, but can’t seem to finish? Well, there’s an answer to your problem, and it’s called an artist residency: a place where artists and writers go to shut out the rest of the world and zone in completely on their creative projects.

Tim Magner, Green Sugar Press

Growing Green Minds: Defining Our Mission

I was good at being a kid, mostly because my parents and grandparents were good at being parents and grandparents. Mom and Dad rarely allowed us to watch TV, but they gave my brothers and me the freedom to wander the neighborhood unchaperoned.

Claire Zulkey

Writing and Publishing a Book: Slow Going is Still Going

I wanted to publish a book since I was 13 and read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read that Hinton was 18 when she published her book, and I thought, Well, if she can do it, so can I. Nevermind that I didn't actually have a book to write. I just wanted to do it.

Lauren Viera

Building a Journalistic Career: The Power of Flexibility

Lauren Viera is a Chicago-based journalist who currently writes about arts and entertainment for the Chicago Tribune. She also teaches English at the college level and has worked as a Print Journalism Industry Expert at the Columbia College Portfolio Center, so she's adept at offering solid career advice. I asked Lauren questions about breaking into arts and culture journalism, working at a major newspaper, and her thoughts on being a writer in Chicago.

Kimberly Senior - Director

Building Bridges

For many aspiring theatre directors, Kimberly Senior's career is a model for success: an East Coast transplant, she moved to Chicago in the mid-’90s with no friends or family nearby and no information about the city other than what she had learned about “this Steppenwolf place” from Broadway press clippings. Fifteen years later, she has become one of the most prolific directors in Chicago.

Carol Fisher Saller

Q&A with a Subversive Copy Editor

The words "copy editor" and "subversive" don't typically go hand in hand, but Carol Saller, a senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press, has proven they're compatible. For years, she has answered style questions for The Chicago Manual of Style's popular online Q&A, and she has done so with clarity, confidence, and good humor. One might assume that she approaches her editorial work with the rigidity of a strict grammarian, but when working directly with writers her emphasis is on forging relationships, being willing to "overthrow the popular view that the writer is a natural adversary," and sometimes even to "think outside the rules."

Margaret Wright

Wright Explores What It's Like to Be Alone Together in an Urban Environment

How do you describe your artwork?

The central object in my multimedia installations, which include sound and found objects, is large-scale recombined archival photography that compresses time and allows me to reinterpret events and interactions between groups of people.

What inspires your art?

I am inspired by light, interactions between people, and physical gesture.

Bernard Williams

The Artist Discusses His Relationship with Chicago

UPDATED NOVEMBER 23rd: Bernard Williams receives the 7th annual Achievement Award from The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts.

Melissa Weber

Reorganizing the World Around Me

How do you describe your artwork?


The display and reframing of objects and materials is central to my art practice. I am intrigued by the mutability of things, the shifting vocabulary of materials, and the creation of unexpected juxtapositions between the mundane and precious. By creating abstract compositions and materialized drawings from porcelain and basic materials I imbue the everyday with newfound value and reveal a reorganization of the world around me.

Putting Yourself into Self-Promotion

An Interview with Wendy McClure, Successful Author and Blogger

Wendy McClure is the author of the memoir I'm Not the New Me, based on a blog she started called Pound. Her blog attracted the attention of editors at BUST magazine who offered her a gig as the pop culture columnist. Her background as a successful blogger makes her well-qualified to answer questions about self-promotion and seizing opportunities.

Gerardo Cárdenas, Contratiempo

Building a Spanish Literary Movement in America's Heartland

When people ask me what exactly is it that Contratiempo strives to achieve, I tend not to mince words: We are the beacon, nucleus, and rallying point for a Spanish-language literary movement in the United States. We are making sure Spanish is spoken, read, and written at the highest level for this generation and (hopefully) the next.

Luftwerk: Sean Gallero and Petra Bachmaier

This Is Creative Collaboration

How do you describe your artwork?

Luftwerk [looft-work] creates experiential designs through the use of video projections, light, sound, material, and elemental surfaces. Large- and medium-scale installations and environments immerse the viewer in a space/event of imagery, theme, motion, shadow, and light. It's a process of projecting an idea as visual poetry, capturing the realm where the origin of light and its image travel towards its destination.

Doug Seibold, Agate Publishing

Going Against the Grain: Founding and Running a For-Profit Publishing House

When I founded Agate Publishing in 2003, I was driven by two main motivations: the desire to do the kind of work that I was most interested in doing, and the desire to have more control over my destiny in doing it.

Shilpa Bavikatte

Bridging Two Identities: My Career as a Musician and Philanthropist

Growing up, I always felt like I was living in two different worlds. I was born and brought up in Iowa, the child of Indian immigrants who, although they appreciated my natural talent for singing, never wanted their youngest to become a musician. Instead, they hoped I'd become something more practical—perhaps a doctor, lawyer, or young wife and mother.

Nick Bastis

Nick Bastis Discusses Land Use, Vacancy and the Built Environment

How do you describe your artwork?

My work depends on the materials and environments I'm surrounded by and on solving a particular problem.

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