November 17, 2017 - January 11, 2018
Zhou B Art Center is delighted to welcome the National Veterans Art Museum’s “Vietnam Transformed: The Art of Richard J. Olsen as Symbolic Reality,” an exhibition of work from throughout the career of longtime NVAM-artist and veteran Richard J. Olsen, in collaboration with curators Andrew and Hathia Hayes, and with curatorial assistance of Anthony F. Janssen. This follows the original exhibition of the same title at the NVAM that closed in August, and will open on Nov 10th, Veteran’s Day (observed), on the second floor of Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St., Chicago IL, on view till Jan 11th, 2018.
In his work, Richard Olsen conveys underlying themes such as the tension between good and evil, the experience of war, and his immediate environment–his studio–by embedding images that are symbolic and allegorical without relying on representation. Olsen began using symbolism early in his career, but this approach for conveying meaning came to the forefront during his mature period during which he creating paintings based on his wartime experiences as a transport helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. The exhibition will showcase work spanning the artist’s career, but will highlight his “Wall” series, for which he is probably best-known.
During his graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Olsen’s artistic approach was to represent the likeness of people, places and events from his life. After accepting a faculty position at the University of Georgia in 1969, he felt pressure to move toward pure abstraction and leave behind his representations of the Vietnam War. He spent time experimenting with a variety of painting techniques, and once again began adding abstracted images pulled from his experience in Vietnam.
Despite mastering these methods of painting, Olsen struggled to find his voice and legitimacy and continued to ask himself “What do I paint?” In 1977, he took the advice of an artist’s cliché, “If you don’t know what to paint, paint your studio wall,” and covered the walls of his studio with canvas and let them depict different aspects of his artistic life. These early canvases were the beginning of his “Wall” series.
By the mid-1980s, Olsen’s approach to both painting and subject matter became clear. He constructed collages, which he called “Calculations,” on grid paper as blueprints for his larger canvases. He depicted his previous works in these collages, and continued this method, adding images of previous paintings and objects in his studio.
Olsen’s “Wall” designs are intended to be allegorical by linking the pictorial artifacts of his Vietnam wartime experiences to systems of meaning – the balance of good/evil, and the legends traditions of culture. Olsen’s war experiences are made real to viewers by the collection of pictorial symbols within each painting and linking the imagery to higher-level meanings.
Olsen’s work aims to surpass an automatic response in viewers by using multiple symbols in compositions that invite, even demand, close inspection and stimulate further thought by providing a context from which the underlying meaning can emerge. Olsen links the visual, emotional, psychological, cultural, and social elements of his Vietnam wartime experiences to much larger primary issues concerning the continued tension between good and evil found in all societies. Through his art, Olsen has elevated the Vietnam War to a universal plane to create an allegory of human existence. His paintings are allegories that rely upon historical and philosophical systems, but they also add new layers to the fundamental meanings of war that are essentially without precedent in art and art history.
Friday, Oct 20th, 7-10pm
Zhou B Art Center 13th Anniversary Celebration First Floor Moongate Space
“Inception” is an immersive multi-sense experience, incorporating fashion, animation, projection, and music, curated and presented by fashion designer Agnieszka Kulon, and video artist Edward Yang. This show lasts for two weeks, and will be on view till Friday, November 3rd. Video art is still considered by many to be a fairly new medium of artistic expression and communication. Video has a strange presence. It takes up space, but not in a traditional sense of what taking up space can mean. One can move through the medium or with it. The medium proposes a new definition of physical presence. Fashion design, on the other hand, is the very definition of physical presence. It is material, we dress in clothes, we move through the world in clothing. We can either treat in a Unitarian sense where it is simply a practicality or we can choose to elevate what we wear and treat it as a sculptural element. Embedded in this show are questions of interdisciplinary practice, how the old and new can inform one another and come together to create an emboldened statement.
“Inception” captures a sense of time, sewing the past, the present, and the future into one piece, presented in a minimalistic and futuristic space that only exists in our imagination. It is a prologue of “The TimeGate,” a new VR project that the Zhou Brothers started in China this year. Michael Zhou – the executive director of Zhou B Art Center who brought the three artists together – said “It has been a vision of the Center to keep evolving, and VR technology has enabled us to consider how art will be shaped in the future. We would like to act as not only an exhibition space, but a creative hub that produces an experience that connects people to what is coming up next.”
FEATURING PERFORMANCE ART BY
Roberto + Aram Han Sifuentes
and a special announcement by
Joseph Ravens and Michael Zhou
Join Defibrillator in celebrating the Zhou B Art Center’s 13th Anniversary with an evening of performance art featuring a powerful combination of artists who are known for their outstanding contributions to contemporary performance practices and their meaningful voices within global dialogues about Performance Art.
[re]IGNITE includes a special announcement by Michael Zhou, Executive Director of Zhou B Art Center, and Joseph Ravens, Founder and Executive Director of Defibrillator Gallery, a.k.a. DFBRL8R.
Máiréad Delaney is an Irish-American artist working transatlantically in performance and installation. She explores how gendered bodies respond to the unleashing of systemic violence. Delaney studied at the postgraduate level in Ireland, working with the Irish women’s collective Survivors of Symphysiotomy. Delaney has exhibited internationally, in New York, Ireland and the UK, and Ethiopia. She has presented work in the 2015 Dublin Live Art Festival and BIPAF, at the Queen’s Museum, Grace Exhibition Space, Panoply Performance Laboratory, for Dublin’s Livestock and with Dublin-based collective Pre-form and Bbeyond at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. She has also made a series of public performances entitled ‘Hold Harmless,’ outside the National Maternity Hospital and the Four Courts in Dublin.
Miao Jiaxin began in Shanghai, where his photography works expressed the universal theme of urban angst, Miao then immigrated to New York, expanding his view of urban streets towards a more conceptual public stage. Among his performative practices across different media, Miao has blended his naked body into the bleak streets of a midnight New York City, traveled inside a suitcase hauled by his mother through urban crowds, made live-feed erotic performances on an interactive pornographic broadcasting website, and dressed as a Chinese businessman for an entire year when working towards his MFA at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. More lately, he converted his New York studio into a jail and charged $1 per night as accommodation on Airbnb and Facebook. Miao’s works often express the ambivalent and sometimes antagonistic tension that always exists between the individual and governing or cultural authorities, questioning assumptions about power in relation to identity politics. He posits the artist’s nature as one who transgresses boundaries, challenges consensus, and stays distance from authorities.
Roberto Sifuentes + Aram Han Sifuentes are husband and wife artistic powerhouses. A founding member of the performance group La Pocha Nostra, Roberto has collaborated and performed with Guillermo Gómez-Peña and other Pocha Nostra artists throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America. Sifuentes is currently Acting Chair and Associate Professor of Performance at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Aram uses a needle and thread as her tools to examine immigration, citizenship, race and craft, drawing on both personal experiences and shared cultural identity. Her work has been exhibited and performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; Elmhurst Art Museum; Chicago Cultural Center; Wing Luke Museum of Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle, Washington; and Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum in Seoul, South Korea, among others.
Friday, Oct 20th, 7-10pm
Zhou B Art Center 13th Anniversary Celebration Second floor Exhibition Space
Zhou B Art Center is presenting “新山水 New Chinese Contemporary Landscape,” a group exhibition of Chinese artists, curated by Mo Chen. The works take on the subject of landscape “山水” (“Shan Shui,” literally meaning mountains and water), in a variety of media.
Human and nature are one. The mood of mountain and water is also reflected in the human spirit. Landscape Painting (山水画), is regarded as the highest form of Chinese Ink Painting (水墨画). It depicts imaginary/observational scene of “mountain” and “water”, which represents Chinese literati spirit that resides in a symbolic space.
The innovation of New Chinese Contemporary Landscape is to treat the subject as a cultural concept associated with historical and humanity meanings, instead of stereotyping it with medium specificity. Then we are able to reinterpret Chinese Landscape with an international aesthetic by thinking the subject in contemporary age.
The artists in the exhibition are: Mo Chen, Qigu Jiang, Yi Kong, Liao Liao, Siyang Li, Yewen Dong.
CURATOR: Mo Chen.
ASSISTANT CURATOR: Siyang Li.
CURATED BY Sergio Gomez
Second floor Exhibition Space
The Zhou B Art Center in Chicago is pleased to announce Geometric Complexions, a group exhibition curated by Sergio Gomez.
Geometric Complexions is an exhibition featuring 13 artists from the US, Iran, Mexico and Italy. The exhibition explores the visual language of geometric abstraction in the context of contemporary art. Traced as far back as 1908 with the birth of cubism, geometric abstraction continues to evolve in studios of many contemporary artists today. Anchored in simplicity, repetition, flattened geometry and color harmony, some of these works are also reminiscent of the minimalist and Bauhaus movements.
Liz Mares, USA
Eric Tucker, USA
Jordan Scott, USA
Mario Gonzalez Jr, USA
Robert Porazinski, USA
David Versluis, USA
Enrico Magnani, Italy
Steven Lockwood, USA
Sarvin Saghighi, Iran
Krista Svalbonas, USA
Ruben Aguirre, USA
Marissa Voytenko, USA
OPEN TO PUBLIC: FEBRUARY 17 – MARCH 10
Second floor Exhibition Space
$30M in College Art Scholarships to be Awarded to Top High Schoolers at Chicago Exhibition
The best 800 student artists from approximately 100 Illinois high schools will assemble to showcase their art and compete for more than $30 million in college scholarships at the 4th annual Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE) from Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, March 8 at the Zhou B Art Center and Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. A public opening will be hosted on Friday, Feb. 17 as the Zhou B Art Center’s monthly Third Friday special event as well as at the Bridgeport Art Center. The exhibition’s main general exhibition event on Sunday, Feb. 26 will feature the keynote address, early college scholarship announcements, awards presentations, and college recruitments at the Zhou B Art Center and senior scholarship announcements at the Bridgeport Art Center. (See event descriptions, times, and locations further down in release).
The IHSAE is including another display venue beyond the Zhou B Art Center, the sole host partner for the previous three years, for the first time because of its burgeoning success. Some 4,000 students, teachers, college representatives, and school district administrators are expected to attend the state’s largest high school student art exhibition that is also widely considered the gold standard amongst high school student art exhibitions nationwide. “The scholarships will continue a robust IHSAE tradition that has facilitated $50-million-plus cumulatively for more than 750 students since our first event in 2014,” said Chris Sykora, secretary for IHSAE, which uniquely collaborates with public, private, and charter high schools and more than 35 college art schools nationwide. The exhibition will be keynoted by progressive art educator Jorge Lucero, director of the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He will address how visual arts in education can also bolster creative practice, brain development, and personal development overall.
“Although art education has been largely eliminated from standard school curriculums due to ever-tightening budgets, a growing number of schools – including the Chicago Public Schools – are undergoing a renaissance focused on extending comprehensive art programs due to the wide-ranging developmental benefits. The IHSAE advocates those extra efforts with exhibitions and other incentives for creative exploration and connection to innovative careers,” Sykora said.
“The Zhou B Art Center is honored to help nurture the world’s future artists by hosting this very special exhibition. Our involvement is consistent with the center’s philosophy to provide a community and environment that supports emerging artists of all ages, walks of life, and countries – including the center’s resident artists – through collaboration, education, networking, innovative thinking, and exhibitions,” said Michael Zhou, the center’s executive director.
A Public Opening Evening Kick-Off – 7 to 10 p.m. at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th Street, and the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Street. Student art works in eight different visual categories (drawing, painting, mixed-media, photography, design, sculpture, ceramics, and time arts) will be on display.
Sunday, Feb. 26
General Exhibition Awards Presentation – Noon to 6 p.m. at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. Juried awards will be presented to students and families. Early college scholarships for non-senior students will be announced. Keynote Jorge Lucero, director of the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, will address the crowd.
Senior Scholarship Exhibition Opening – Noon to 6 p.m. at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. College tuition scholarships will be announced individually. They will be awarded by more than 35 college arts schools, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Laguna College of Art + Design, Laguna Beach, Calif.; Syracuse University, New York; Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design; and Savannah College of Art and Design.
College Recruitment Fair – 10 a.m. to Noon at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. High school art students interested in pursuing post-secondary study in visual arts and related disciplines can converse with talent recruiters from the same 35-plus college art schools above that screened scholarship applicants prior to the exhibition.
ABOUT THE IHSAE
The Illinois High School Art Exhibition is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is the advancement of visual arts education through exhibition. Developed by teachers for students in 2014, the organization is run by full-time art educators who collaborate with corporate sponsors, art schools/colleges/universities, and participating public, private, and charter high schools to celebrate and award the artistic talents of Illinois high school art students. The IHSAE cultivates further connections through community art programs, an Educator Art Show, Blick in-store events, presentations for art teachers at venues such as School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Art Education Association Conference, school programming support, collaborative connections with Illinois School Boards, and more.
A SHOW BY AGNIESZKA KULON
Second floor Exhibition Space
OPEN TO PUBLIC: JANUARY 20 – FEBRUARY 10
OFFICIAL OPENING: 3RDFRIDAY JANUARY 20
I am grateful to be back at Zhou B Art Center and share my work in fashion design and video montage. In many ways, I consider the show “White Seam” to be retrospective of my collaboration and fascination with the color white. The show, made of several fashion and video installations, is connected by this color. Fabrics, in their raw state, before being processed or altered for production, are usually white. In this way, the very structure of material has the connotation of beginnings and unadulterated meanings. This literal blank canvas allows one to start a unique journey.
I invited other artists to support this experimental installation by creating additional elements to this idea:
Sculptural Painting: InJung Oh
Video: Edyta Stepien
Soundscape: Addison Porter
Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Agnieszka Kulon is a fashion designer and a photographer based in Chicago. Her clothing line, kreatia, is based on the premise of creating distinctive and original garments. Agnieszka pays particular attention to details and the nuances that given fabrics present to her.
Her work has been shown in many venues in Chicago, i.e. the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Merchandise Mart, Polish Museum of America, Rosemont Theater, Chicago Cultural Center and Zhou B Art Center, as well as across at the United States at Joan Mondale Gallery in Minneapolis and the Sixth Biennial International Exhibition in Palos Verde Art Center in California. More of her work can be found at:
As an artist, Edyta Stepien explores urban landscape and our relationship to it. She is interested in blurring the boundaries between what is synthetic and what is natural and what is real and what is constructed by using the urban landscape as her main inspiration. Hybrid Spaces is such a video installation. Fragmented landscapes, natural and constructed, appear and disappear throughout the given space. Illuminated images and sculptural elements, activated in a random pattern, create an ever-changing and unexpected narrative. More of her work can be found at:
I am very happy to announce the debut of young artist, Addison Porter:
Addison Porter is a sound artist and songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. Sample manipulation, jazz-inspired guitar playing as well as lo-fi timbres are some characteristics of her current work. Porter is currently finishing a debut EP and studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Canvas sculptural painting is process-based art experimentation of new materials and means of display. The process uses a series of canvas studies to investigate the possibilities of freezing transitory moments between stillness and movement in painting and sculpture. Visually captivating forms grow and develop, unconsciously merging the East and the West and the Body together. For more information, please visit her website: