Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements

December 12, 2015 - February 21, 2016

Chicago artists have something to say. Taking on the role of cultural commentator, facilitator, advocate or activist, many artists in Chicago are actively engaged with their communities and the pressing and often highly-charged social issues of our day. Celebrating this artistic approach, Elmhurst Art Museum’s inaugural Biennial, Chicago Statements, provides nineteen artists with a wide-reaching public platform for their messages, their voices and their revelations that address imbalances of power, access and resources. Through drawings, sculpture, video, photography, text and documentation of public projects, the Biennial intends to raise awareness, encourage discussion and promote the power of individual and collective expression and healing. 

Participants include Lise Haller Baggesen, Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes, Doug Fogelson, Maria Gaspar, Matthew Hoffman, Jesse Howard, Jenny Kendler, Kirsten Leenaars, Faheem Majeed, Billy McGuinness, Christopher Meerdo, Matt Morris, Cheryl Pope, John Preus, Alison Ruttan, Aram Han Sifuentes, Edra Soto and Amanda Williams. Topics explored by these artists include feminism and motherhood, new technologies, community building, race and power, gun violence, gentrification, poverty, war, environmentalism and immigration, among others.  

Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements will fill the majority of the Museum’s building and will fittingly present Lise Haller Baggesen’s interactive installation Mothernism (a play on motherhood and modernism) in one wing of the Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House. Including a tent, silk banners, an audio component and a disco ball, Mothernism encourages conversations about identity, inclusiveness and art-making. Another participatory work includes Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes’ Copy Shop, an installation highlighting 3D scanning and printing and its transformative effect on object design and production. Jesse Howard’s new charcoal and watercolor portraits of African Americans and Kirsten Leenaars’ recent video #thisistomorrow respond to the current climate of violence, disenfranchisement and abuse of power and serve as a call to action to imagine a better future.

A lively roster of weekly public programs will include artist talks, performances, concerts, exhibition tours, a book discussion and unique workshops led by many of the Biennial artists, including Aram Han Sifuentes’ U.S. Citizenship Test Project, aimed at non-citizen immigrants to provide information about the process of gaining American citizenship and to sew samplers. Partnerships with schools and local institutions are also in the works. Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements is curated by EAM Chief Curator & Director of Public Programs Staci Boris.

This project is supported by the City of Elmhurst Community Grant Program.

biennial artist pages                                                                                                                         

Listen to Chief Curator Staci Boris' interview on WGN's The Download with Justin Kaufmann.