artists & participants

press release

Are You Serious is an exhibition featuring artists working outside the proliferation of the ubiquitous Neo-Psychedelia movement, a genre favoring heavily stylized adolescent drawings, goth/rock and roll signifiers, and the hippie/skate culture aesthetic. Our curatorial strategy sought to investigate artists who work within the discourse of the contemporary art world while circumventing stylistic trends in their work.

The participants in Are You Serious are unified by their commitment to delving deeply into political and cultural tension, resulting in a lack of stylistic uniformity while developing sophisticated artworks that examine contemporary issues including: race, class, environmental issues, consumption, the violence of environmental waste, depression, mortality, institutional control, gender roles, death, ritual, loss, grief, denial, mathematics, nuclear technology and the cannon of art history.

In comparison to these neo-psychedelic artists who appropriate the style of art works made in a time of 1960s and 1970s political and social turmoil - the artists in this exhibition shun escapism by making socially aware work that is inherently sober in content and form. When the motif of darkness appears in Are You Serious , it refuses to be stylized, derivative or commodified. The result is an exhibition that confronts viewers with potent works that invite large, complex social issues into the gallery for the viewer's consideration.

By curating a show around these artists, we seek to ask, artists, patrons, gallerists, curators, critics and art viewers audience Are You Serious?

Paul D'Amato 's work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museumof Contemporary Art. He is a recipient of a john Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, Pollack-Krasner Grant, a Bellagio Fellowship and a Illinois Art Council Grant among others. His book, "Barrio", has just been published by the University of Chicago Press.

Ken Ellis , a native Chicagoan, has been creating his profound quilts for just under twenty years. His quilts are delicate in form but fierce in content and feature subject matter such as racism, folklore, stereotypes and controversial historical figures. His work can be found in many private collections and was the focus of Anatomically Correct's exhibition, Sewing the Seeds: A Look at Violence in American History, at Bailiwick Arts Center. His work was also featured at the Indian Museum in Minnesota.

Michelle Faust received her BFA from Art Institute of Chicago, She recently mounted a solo exhibition at 65 Grand Gallery in Chicago, and has collaborated with artists notable artists Jack Kearney and Christine Tarkowski. The sculptural series ‘Tire' featured here, are iron-casted tire shreds that she collected from US highways.

Anne Harris is represented by Alexandre Gallery in New York and Nielsen Gallery in Boston. Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Art in America, Art News, and the Boston Globe among others. She has won a number of grants including a Guggenheim fellowship and an NEA fellowship. Her work is in collections such as the New York Public Library and the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard. Upcoming solo shows include Keene State University in New Hampshire, scheduled from June through October 2006 and Alexandre Gallery in New York, scheduled for Spring of 2007.

Irena J. Knezevic was born in Belgrade in 1982. She is currently an MFA candidate in studio art at University of Illinois at Chicago. Irena will include a sculptural excerpt from of a larger ongoing project— Axiomaticon : a poly-cameral (multi-room) construct, which tests narrative structures by jumps between media and different moments in narrative history . The objects will be presented as a floating sequence including models from: SilentSite: Tesla Hotel, Black Sail and Sonar . Starting with Tesla Hotel --a model of Nikola Tesla's childhood home and ending with Sonar -- wax map of a shipwrecked North Sea voyage, objects included represent a scrambled broadcast that maps instances where the esoteric and the scientific intersect. She is University of Chicago Board of Trustees Robinson Fellow, 2005 University of Chicago Arts Council Summer Fellow, 2006/07 Navona Fellow and Provost's Award winner at UIC. Upcoming projects include collaboration with the Melvins curated by Bob Nickas and a sound installation for Dan Peterman's Experimental Station.

Noelle Mason is an artist. She was born north of the border in 1977 and grew up in "Chula Juana," California. In her multi-disciplinary practice Noelle transforms appropriated images, objects, and contexts to expose the advantages gained through the persuasive power of vision and representation. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of California, Irvine and received an MFA in 2005 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Noelle is a recent recipient of the Jerome fellowship from the Franconia Sculpture Park and was a 2004 resident at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is currently exhibiting in solo and group shows across the country and spends her spare time skydiving and trying to figure out if it is better to have x-ray vision or invisibility.

Sabrina Raaf is a Chicago-based artist who works in both experimental sculptural media and photography. She is a producer of creative machines - machines that independently make art when cross-pollinated with human interaction. In 2004-5, her work was shown at the Stefan Stux Gallery in NY, the Kunsthaus Graz in Austria, at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland, the San Jose Museum, the Oboro Art Center in Montreal (solo), and at ISEA (the International Symposium of Electronic Arts).

The youngest participant in the exhibition, Mary Scherer just received her BFA from UIC in film this past spring, where her thesis work, “Index of Absence,” a devastating survey of loss amongst friends and acquaintances, received enthusiastic support from the department and is featured in “Are You Serious.”

Greg Stimac recently received his BA from Columbia College Chicago where he studied photography. In May of 2006, Greg debuted new work at the West Loop's Bucket Rider Gallery with a solo exhibition in the project space. Soon after, his work was acquired for the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography and entered various private collections in the Midwest and California. His work is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Photography's “In Sight” exhibition, which runs through August 5 th.

only in german

ARE YOU SERIOUS?
Kuratoren: Lindsey L. Delahanty & Jason Lazarus

mit Paul Damato, Ken Ellis, Michelle Faust, Anne Harris, Irena J. Knezevic,
Noelle Mason, Sabrina Raaf, Mary Scherer, Greg Stimac