Sunday, December 9, 2012 was the end of Chicago’s Twelve at the Garfield Park Conservatory exhibition project.
Chicago’s Twelve explored ecological footprint as a key principle of sustainability. By reconsidering the materials and processes of art making, the artists in this exhibition proposed new and innovative ways of reducing our human footprint by reusing and salvaging discarded materials. In a variety of ways, from dead trees to metal waste, these compelling works challenged the production of art and embraced an international movement towards reducing the impact of human footprint. Not only their works evoked a sense of renewal but they also explored the aesthetic qualities of decay, erosion and environmental transformation. Chicago’s Twelve vision was to inspire our community into action and stimulate dialog by addressing sustainable alternatives and their positive impact to the environment we inhabit.
Chicago’s Twelve began as an exhibition designed for the Zhou B Art Center in the Spring 2012 as a way to celebrate Earth Day. The idea for the concept of the show was born on a Saturday morning as I was still in bed. It was one of those moments in which an idea just comes to mind and you know it has the potential for something big. After the main concept was conceived, I spent about a month searching for the twelve Chicago artists that would make a solid group. The selected artists represent a variety of styles, art processes and ideas. Each one of them is distinctly different form the rest. However, they all share a common interest in world preservation. One of the fun parts of the project was to photograph each artist walking towards the camera so I could use their silhouette in the promotional materials. The poster was purposely made to resemble the movie poster for Ocean’s Eleven. As a simple graphic image, it is easily memorable.
After a successful run at the Zhou B Art Center in the Spring 2012, I was invited to bring the exhibition to the beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory where it was on view for five months from August to December 2012. The Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois is one of the largest and most stunning conservatories in the nation. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Garfield Park Conservatory occupies approximately 4.5 acres inside and out. Each artist had to reinterpret their work on a natural setting and outside of the typical gallery walls. With only a month and a half to work, they pulled through a completely different exhibition than what had been shown at the Zhou B Art Center.
Special thanks to the the Zhou B Art Center, The Chicago Park District and the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance for making this exhibition possible. I am thankful to all the twelve artists that made this idea alive, engaged and vibrant. Not only I have learned a lot from these artists but I have come to know them better. I have a greater appreciation for their work and personal vision after Chicago’s Twelve. Lastly, I thank the countless visitors who visited Chicago’ Twelve this year at the Zhou B Art Center and/or the Garfield Park Conservatory. Thank you Chicago!
CHICAGO’S TWELVE ARTISTS
“The Elements Of Life” is a sculptural mixed media installation by Chicago painter and visual artist, Jason Brammer. He created this piece from shapes he cut from recycled wood and assembled to form the face. Jason then painted the imagery on the wood components and incorporated recycled tubing, salvaged table legs, antique metal hardware, and salvaged piano keys. It sits in a shallow pool at the Garfield Park Conservatory and is meant to integrate with plants and natural surroundings. This piece is intended to represent how the human body is composed of differing elements from the earth and universe, symbolizing the connection of man to his environment and to each other.
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Mary Ellen Croteau
I am working with trash – stuff that can’t be or isn’t recycled, mostly because it is not financially profitable. I take things that would otherwise go into a garbage dump and make beautiful environments from them: “Endless Columns” are made of plastic jar lids and bottle caps. I hope to make people aware of just how much garbage we are throwing onto the earth, especially plastics, which are made from petroleum, exactly what we are fighting wars for.
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Salvador Jimenez Flores
This work titled The Collector’s Journey by Salvador Jiménez Flores, emphasizes on the journey and the important role the scrap metal collectors play in our urban environment. They collect the unwanted things—what is classified by some as “garbage”—and sell it to recycling centers. By collecting and sorting out the different kinds of metals, the scrap metal collectors help to reduce, reuse and recycle the waste of our populous cities.
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Victoria Fuller uses common everyday objects, to create new forms resembling those found in nature, which invites the viewer to see theses common objects in a new light, emphasizing their form, and beauty of design. Traffic cone star shapes resemble grains of pollen, diatoms, or a virus. Balls with hooks resemble small suns, or dandelion seed heads, and when chained together, mimic chain formations found in nature (like Cyanobacteria forming colonial filaments).
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My sculptures are rooted in themes of birth, death and transformation. I use materials salvaged from nature and industry: objects that allude to archetypal animal, human or animal forms. My interest in pagan and religious rituals, mythologies, and symbols is nurtured through my experiences as a nurse.
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Heirloom fruits and vegetables are plants that have been grown for about 50 to 100 years or more before large-scale agriculture began. The produce found in grocery stores are usually hybridized to make them more disease and pest resistant so they can be grown in mass quantities with less hassle. This way of picking and choosing leaves many varieties of fruits and vegetables unknown to us that are often richer in flavor and largely diverse.
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Dana Major Kanovitz
Dana Major’s screen and wire sculptures explore the reflective surface of the pond in the Fern Room. Watch the reflections change as you walk the path. The color of the screen changes from black to white to silver, and the screen appears transparent or opaque, depending on the light in the room, and the background of your view.
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N. Masani’s work incorporates found objects and collage to create pieces reflecting personal experiences and Female / Racial Social Issues.
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The moss is not Spanish at all: the ancient Mexicans who encountered it first knew that the sullen filaments wrapped around the branches of the oaks were the lost strands of Grandmother’s hair, entangled in the forests as she fell down head-first from the sky on her way to the underworld, at the beginning of time.
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The creative seed dance above the path leading you to the emerging egg at the end of the lagoon, reminding us that we have that potential to manifest our hearts’ desire. Plants have a way of communicating to us the most simplest and yet profound truths. The use of living tillandsia (air plants) and moss only emphasize this unique creation story while conceiving a state of whimsy and wonder.
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Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz
This sculpture represents all the people who cannot see the way we consume, and just think of buying the new stuff on the market. These individuals cannot realize that they have been brain washed with ideas of new “necessities” planted in their heads every day. They need all the nice new things, the new model of their electronics, cars, clothing, etc. Otherwise they will fall behind. These people call themselves civilized, intelligent and in possession of good taste for all the best things that life has to offer. They link material things with success but don’t think about all that is involved to manufacture what they want. They claim to love their planet, do philanthropic acts, and recycle. With that they want to save the planet! But they do not use common sense to see that on this planet we cannot even drink water from a river anymore, that we humans gave ourselves titles and have sold our land and water without ever owning it.
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I see the shelter form as embodying the souls desire to retreat into a comforting and protective environment. The human experience is explored through natural materials which bring the viewer away from the controlled man made world and into the raw and mysterious realm of Nature where I believe we are vulnerable and the most real.
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Chicagoʼs Twelve was curated by Sergio Gomez, Director of Exhibitions, Zhou B Art Center
OFFICIAL CHICAGO’S TWELVE WEBSITE: www.chicagostwelve.com