Spring Openings with Emily Spurgeon

Spring Openings with Emily Spurgeon


Art enthusiast Emily Spurgeon gives us their must-see spring shows.


Short Circuit

Where: ACRE, 1345 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60608

When: Opening reception on Friday, April 6th, from 6PM - 9PM. On view through Sunday, April 22nd.

Artists: Barber, Sheida Soleimani, Cassie Tompkins, and Lauren Valley. Curated by Elizabeth Lalley.

Statement: Through photography, collage, video, and textile, the four artists in Short Circuit respond to the circulation of imagery and information within digital mass media, as they disrupt, reject, or dissect contemporary modes of image production and consumption. Employing strikingly different visual languages and critical sensibilities, these artists are united by an attempt to redirect digital currents towards a material grounding, rooted in the messiness of human output. At moments wry and dissonant, each work in the exhibition draws out issues of identity, subjectivity, and politics embedded in globalized media. 

In Their Own Form

Where: Museum of Contemporary Photography 600 S Michigan Ave, Chicago IL 60605

When:  Opening reception on Thursday, April 12, 5 - 7PM. On view through July 8

Artists: Alun Be, Kudzanai Chiurai, Jim Chuchu, Teju Cole, Ayana V. Jackson, Mohau Modisakeng, Fabrice Monteiro, Zanele Muholi, Aida Muluneh, Paulo Nazareth, Zohra Opoku, Alexis Peskine, and Mary Sibande. Curated by Sheridan Tucker Anderson

Statement: In Their Own Form seeks to illuminate the myriad ways blackness might hope to exist without the imposition of oppression, racism and stereotypes ever-present in Western cultures, mediated through Afrofuturist themes including time-travel and escapism. Afrofuturism refers to a cross-disciplinary genre that combines science fiction, Afrocentrism, fantasy, technology, and non-Western mythologies as an intellectual and artistic strategy to reimagine and repurpose the fraught past, present, and future of the transnational black experience. Bringing together 13 artists and 33 photographic and video works that negotiate a range of Afro-Diasporic experiences, In Their Own Form prefaces personhood, both fantastical and actual, over perceived realities.

I want to be pretty until I die

Where: Baby Blue Gallery, 2201 S Halsted st, Chicagol IL 60608

When: Opening reception on Friday, April 13th 7-10PM

Artists: Carmen Chaparro, Traci Fowler, and Alex Bach.

Statement: Baby Blue presents a group exhibition of paintings by Carmen Chaparro, sculptures by Traci Fowler, and sculptures by Alex Bach. Floaty pool toys, polished squiggles, and those gel sandals you never wore. Is it a little kitschy or a little vain?

Dark Room

Where: DOCUMENT. 1709 W Chicago avenue, Chicago, IL 60622

When: Opening reception on Friday, April 13th 5 - 8PM

Artist: Mpagi Sepuya

About: Paul Mpagi Sepuya is a contemporary American photographer whose work magnifies the intimate relationship between artist and subject from the queer, black perspective. Mpagi Sepuya’s neutral images are often interrupted by dark fabrics or angled mirrors, either revealing or fragmenting the view of the body. This will be his second solo exhibition at DOCUMENT.

I'll Take 12

Where: Adler & Floyd, 3537 S Western Blvd #5, Chicago, Illinois 60609

When: Opening reception on Saturday, April 14 7-10PM

Artists: Charles Schoen and Wesley Weaver

Statement: Theorist David Joselit argues that art has moved away from a paradigm of form expressing content and rather toward artistic output via formats which he calls “dynamic mechanisms for aggregating content.” In our image culture, all aspects of a work of art may be appropriated, recognizable, or preexisting. The novelty of a format is how these components devise a web of connections in the artist’s own way, comprising structures of both display and thinking and critical outlooks on political scenarios. Mining the infinite supply of content already out in the world doesn’t stifle free-association, but encourages it.

It’s an outplayed trope to say that we live in a fast-paced era accelerating at unmatched speed. After all, what era hasn’t felt that way? These artists’ formats are native to high-output mentalities, so rather than the clichéd bewilderment with our present, they focus on the possibility of absurdity and humor perhaps with a nuance of the high-anxiety of current politics. It’s too easy to take the cynical stance that in (post-)postmodernism, anything can be art. But rather more hopefully (especially in our bleak political landscape), anything can be made art through the right format.

Call a Mom Phone Bank

Where: Gallery 062, 1029 W 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60609

When: Opening reception on Friday, April 20 7-10PM

Artist: Mev Luna

Statement: Unlimited talk and text as low as $30 [1]. Witty commercials in which the person making the phone call to a customer service line is the one answering the call [2]. American deportees answering questions, responding to complaints, and re-directing calls from across the border [3].

This is the state of communications, with much of the emotional labor behind a phone call displaced in text messages, emoticons, and undetectable accents serving an American public whose customer satisfaction survey answers do not account for the geographical dislocation of those they evaluate and the cost of that service.

With this reality in mind, CALL A MOM PHONE BANK invites the audience to make a difficult phone call. Taking place within a semi-private space with the guidance of the performer, the installation will serve as a new environment to approach a lingering or unaddressed topic. It is up to the discretion of the participant to define difficult for themselves.

Out of Easy Reach

Where: DePaul Art Museum (935 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago IL 60614), Gallery 400 (400 S Peoria St, Chicago IL 60607), Rebuild Foundation (6916 S Dorchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60637)

When: Opening receptions at DePaul Art Museum on Thursday, April 26, 6 - 8PM and Gallery 400, Friday, April 27, 5 - 8PM

Artists: Lisa Alvarado, Candida Alvarez, Barbara Chase-riboud, Bethany Collins, Abigail Deville, Torkwase Dyson, Maren Hassinger, Leslie Hewitt, Sheree Hovsepian, Juliana Huxtable, Ariel Jackson, Steffani Jemison, Jennie C. Jones, Caroline Kent, Yvette Mayorga, Ayanah Moor, Howardena Pindell, Kellie Romany, Xaviera Simmons, Shinique Smith, Edra Soto, Martine Syms, Zipporah Camille Thompson, and Brenna Youngblood. Curated by curated by Allison Glenn. 

Statement: Countering conventional accounts of art history that have often overlooked the artistic contributions of women of color, Out of Easy Reach presents the work of 24 artists.
From traditional approaches to the more challenging usage, this exhibition will investigate the contemporary and conceptual expansion of abstraction by American, female-identifying artists from the Black and Latina Diasporas; through work made from 1980-2018. “Out of Easy Reach” proposes that there are myriad ways artists are employing abstraction as a tool to explore histories both personal and universal, with a focus in mapping, migration, archives, landscape, vernacular culture, language, and the body.

Each exhibition venue will feature artists and artworks that are grouped based on thematic affinities, and conceptual pairings will happen throughout. At DePaul Art Museum, artists and artworks will be presented that consider landscape, the body and the archive. Gallery 400 will include artists and artworks that are concerned with spatial politics, mapping and migration. Stony Island Arts Bank will feature works that consider process, time and material culture.


Emily Spurgeon is currently the External Relations & Development Assistant at Chicago Artists Coalition. You can follow them on instagram @thighhigh_uggs


Silhouettes 001: "Turn" by Daphne Tunes

Silhouettes 001: "Turn" by Daphne Tunes

Portraits by Marina Labarthe del Solar

Portraits by Marina Labarthe del Solar