Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Morbid Curiosity

For months now the Chicago Cultural Center has been my go-to place to discover new art in Chicago.

From its free music, to free dance and theater events- the art exhibitions I have seen have been unforgettable.

Maybe it's the beautiful, sophisticated architecture of the building. Or the wide, spacious walls that allow my thoughts to ponder back and forth.
Whatever it may be, it has kept me coming back for more. 

Since January 28th of this year, Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection has been on display at the Chicago Cultural Center and will be till July 8th.

I had just visited this exhibit last week.

What took me so long to check it out? Well. Let's just say I get squeamish at the thought of death or anything dark-themed. Whether it's in movies, books, or in this case, art... I tend to look the other way sometimes.

However. I had finally mustered up the confidence to check out the exhibit with a friend of mine.

Shockingly, I didn't shut my eyes and run the other way. I was pleasantly surprised. 

Yes, I felt a little bit drowned by the large number of skulls and skeletons that surrounded me. But, I was more-so intrigued. 

Harris's collection explored several underlying themes-- not just death. Themes like vanity, war and the contrast between living and death popped out throughout the various sculptures, paintings, photographs and drawings of the collection. My favorite piece was a chandelier made out of hundreds of bones. 

A lady who was also exploring the exhibit and followed closely to my friend and me, helped shed a little light on the collection. She said, "Don't look at them [the skulls] as just a symbol of death. These have been used symbolically throughout centuries and across cultures. To one person it may mean one thing, but to another it could mean the opposite. Be creative."

There's about 5 weeks left to check out The Richard Harris Collection before it leaves Chicago. 

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington Street

Oh! And admission is FREE.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vinyl Records

Instead of chucking out those retro, out-of-date vinyl records in the trash or at a local garage sale, Ebony Leaks, a college student designer and stylist, used her creativity and put them to better use. 

Ebony uses old vinyl records to create jewelry-- and her specialty? Earrings. 

Ranging from colors like black, to yellow, to turquoise, to maroon with a hint of pink, Ebony says each piece is "named after a positive expression to show the uniqueness that it has." Each piece is hand-made to fit any style, from retro to modern.
Since the fall of 2011, these vinyl records have caught my eye. Since then, they have been sweeping the South Loop of Chicago. 

Whole or Half? 

"Vinyl Expressionz was first a way for Ebony to express herself stylistically, and as time progressed her desire became for everyone to take part in this expression that was developed through her love for creating jewelry," as explained on her website. 
To me, it's astonishing how deep people dive into their imagination and get lost in their creativity. And for some people, they don't even have to dive that deep. It comes naturally.  I never would have had the thought in a million years to take old records, cut them and craft them onto wires made to hang from earlobes. 

Let's take this piece of junk and transform it into something beautiful!

But hey, one man's trash is another man's treasure, right?


What would have been tossed out in my bag of "garbage" was instead carefully crafted into fun, colorful and unique jewelry. Earrings that have gotten me several compliments and double-takes. Now it's one of my favorite pieces of flare.  

AND! According to her website, she will have new Vinyl Record earrings in honor of Whitney Houston (my favorite...RIP) featured soon. 

To check out more of Ebony's "Vinyl Expressionz" and maybe order a pair for you or your friend, you can visit www.vinylexpressionz.com 

- gail

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Stranger Than Family"

I've recently checked out Matthew Avignone's body of work entitled "Stranger than Family." This series is currently up at the David Weinberg Photography gallery in the gallery district. Matt describes his work as a documentation of "a typical family who has gone through extraordinary circumstances."

Matt, along with his four other siblings, are all adopted by his parents; two from India, two from South Korea.  Matt present his work as "capturing that fleeting which is a spit second." Along with family portraits and photos, viewers are also presented with documents and snapshots from the family's past.  These include the adoption papers from himself and siblings.  Pictures of when the children first met their adoption parents are included, as well as family photos from years past.

Through "Stranger Than Fiction," Matt is able to provide a glimpse of how strangers can become a family, no matter the circumstances, with time, love and perseverance.

Matt is a recent graduate from Columbia College Chicago's photography program.  He has being recognized with many awards such as the 2012 Baum Award for Emerging American Photographer.  His handmade signature sewn book titled, "An Unfinished Body," is in the permanent collections at George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY and the International Center of Photography, New York, NY.

"Stranger Than Family" will be up through May 26th.