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Hold On (video still)
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Here To For (Pencils)
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Tell us about your early career. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I was drawing constantly when I was little. For years my younger sister had to put up with me asking her 'will you draw with me?' multiple times a day. I dreamt of working for Disney, and I’d fill page after page with Little Mermaids until I got Ariel’s tail just right. I took painting and drawing classes in the back room of a frame shop throughout middle school and continued to draw in high school. Then when I got to the University of Chicago for college, I convinced my freshman self that art was a hobby of mine but not “serious” enough for such a reputable academic institution. However by the middle of sophomore year, having just gotten through a graduate level media theory class, I was burnt out and knew I needed a different kind of challenge for the spring.
The idea of taking an art class popped into my head, photography specifically, and I managed to talk my way into Laura Letinsky’s Photo II class despite not having taken the prerequisite Photo I course. I learned to process film and print black and white photographs, but even more importantly, I learned how to look at photographs. Upon graduating from college, I still wasn’t convinced that I wanted to be an artist, so I interned at the Museum of Contemporary Art, first in the Photo Archives and then in the Education Department. I then moved to New York and worked as a studio assistant and eventually studio manager for several artists – all women – for the next three years. The experience of working in other artists’ studios was an education in and of itself. Not only was the work inspiring, but each individual’s unique approach to working in and running a successful studio practice proved to me that there wasn’t one, singular way to be an artist. It was then that I decided to take the plunge and commit myself to a life in the arts.
Art usually addresses something conceptual… whether it’s political, personal, emotional. What does your work address in concept?
I often point to The Hedgehog’s Dilemma as a through line of my practice. This is a powerful metaphor used in the field of psychology to illustrate the challenging complexities of interpersonal and intimate relationships between humans. The dilemma of the hedgehog occurs on a cold, winter day when several hedgehogs find themselves gathering together to share body heat, but soon discover that they cannot get too close without getting pricked by their peers’ own natural means of self-defense. The notion of “closeness”—as an indication of emotional attachment, as well as physical proximity or a state of becoming, of almost but not quite—provides me with constant fodder for investigation through multiple mediums. Whether it takes the form of a photograph, a drawing or a sculpture, my work is constantly sidling up to body heat and closing in on close distances.
What other activities and causes are you passionate about?
I’m director of Weinberg/Newton Gallery, an altogether unique exhibition space in River North committed to informing and educating the public about social justice issues that affect our Chicago community and beyond. We have a radical exhibition in our space right now addressing homelessness that was organized in collaboration with the artist collaborative Red Line Service.
Where can someone see your work(s)?
My website. I’m also always more than happy to have people visit my studio.