Jason Judd

Jaclyn Wright: Marked

February 1 , March 8, 2019

Snow College Art Gallery

Jaclyn Wright: Marked features recent works that combine traditional photographic techniques with contemporary digital processes. This hybrid approach to image-making affords Wright the ability to merge photography’s fluid representation of reality with her interest in the residual effects of misogyny, the power dynamics of the gendered body, as well as the societal privileges of the white body. Throughout the exhibition the work oscillates between depicting Wright’s own vulnerability and privilege, employing various ways of representing her body as the primary subject to address complex gendered and racialized issues.

The title Marked immediately refers to a prominent birthmark on Wright’s neck that has continually prompted verbal and physical abuse by strangers and appears in her work through the mimicry of its shape or similarity of its color. Furthermore, she considers other “birthmarks” one could attribute to her body—specifically gender and race. “White woman have the ability to mask gender or race to benefit social capital.” Wright continues, “Masking these overlapping identities conflicts with intersectional feminism, which acknowledges how race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc. have an impact on experiences of oppression and discrimination.”

Wright applies this concept of marking and masking in the production of the artwork in Marked from masking film to marking dark slides or masking her body with skin-suits to marking photo paper as a means to depict the nuances of identity. In this way the work responds to her primary concerns by, as Wright states, “reducing the body to skin tone, gender, and flesh as a way to examine the dehumanization of the female body while questioning the privileged body.”

Wright’s interest in marking and masking has materialized in a conglomeration of contemporary image-based forms and conventional photographic mediums that include: dye sublimation photographic prints on aluminum with laser cut shapes; a grid of 75 Silver Gelatin prints; wallpapered vinyl images; and a single-channel video featuring the artist in various home-made skin suits with a green screen in the Utah landscape. Wright also exhibits source materials and tools used to produce these works. Revealing such objects is often seen as demystifying, but Wright complicates these items by altering them from or with parts of her body. For instance, a dark slide (used to expose film in a large format camera) is laser cut in the shape of Wright’s birthmark, rendering it only useful as a primary tool for creating the aforementioned grid of 75 silver gelatin prints. Another example is a hanging display of a pair of saggy and stretched “nude” bodysuits that are made from a medley of dried flesh tone paint blobs sampled directly from the artist’s skin, both of which are worn throughout her video piece.

Through technical skill, sharp wit, and surprising humor, Jaclyn Wright: Marked addresses timely social issues about privilege, race, and gender in the United States. Deeper yet, the exhibition reveals the artist’s vulnerability in acknowledging the complex issue of privilege from what she acknowledges as her own privileged position. It is from this position that Wright is careful to not offer any answers—rather, examines what questions should be asked.

Jaclyn Wright is an interdisciplinary artist and educator originally from the Great Lakes region. She has previously served as the visiting artist at the University of Cincinnati, the artist in residence at Latitude Chicago, and guest co-editor of Papersafe Magazine, “Turbulent Bodies / A Cross, A Wild Sea”. Wright has also exhibited work at David Weinberg Gallery, Chicago; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; Perspective Gallery, Chicago; Sala Muncunill, Barcelona, Spain; Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Chicago; and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah to name a few. Following her 2016 monograph, “Afterglow: Compact, Orientable, Spacelike” which was included in the top ten artist books at LA Art Book Fair, write published an essay and contributed images for the publication Too Good to be Photographed, which explores the various sides of photographic failure. She received her BA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois and her MFA from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In 2018 she accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Photography & Digital Imaging at the University of Utah, College of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.

Jaclyn Wright’s exhibition is organized by Snow College Art Gallery’s Director Jason Judd.

Artist Reception

Friday, February 1
6 to 8 pm

Captioned Twentieth Century 17.jpg

Liza Sylvestre: Captioned

October 12 – December 14, 2018

Granary Arts

Captioned by artist Liza Sylvestre is a feature length, single-channel video interpretation of the 1934 screwball comedy film “Twentieth Century” starring John Barrymore and Carole Lombard. As an individual with a profound hearing impairment, Sylvestre depends on closed captioning or other interpretive texts to have complete understanding of films. In Captioned, the artist replaces the missing closed captioning in the movie with what she describes as “self-commentary”. Sylvestre explains her process while creating the piece, “Sometimes I record what I think is happening, often I record my visual observations, and sometimes my mind wanders, and I record that as well.” This fast-paced, dialogue-heavy comedy—complete with improbable and complicated narratives—affords Sylvestre many opportunities to reveal her experience enduring incomprehensible cinematic situations.

Sylvestre’s significant hearing loss progressed throughout her formative years until 2003, when she underwent cochlear implant surgery.  Her experience leads her to explore, through a multidisciplinary practice in art, how senses alter experiences of the world—more specifically, how she can investigate this concept as, she states, “an individual who is medically, although not culturally, deaf.”

While viewing Captioned, an enabled audience encounters oscillating narratives: the narrative of the original film, the narrative of Sylvestre’s experience, and the unique narrative produced by experiencing both simultaneously. For example, a scene from the film depicts a group of actors preparing for a play. As the director barks orders to his cast members, Sylvestre’s eloquent interpretation appears as closed captioning text near the bottom of the frame: “Sounds on top of sounds with nothing separating them… And now the shape of what I recognize as a conversation… A tumble of a man’s voice… Words fall from him rapidly and everyone responds… Those familiar lulls and pauses between words and breaths.”

A publication is forthcoming, with a conversation between Liza Sylvestre and curator Jason Judd. 

Liza Sylvestre is the co-founder of Creating Language Through Arts, an educational arts residency that focuses on using art as a means of communication when there are language barriers present due to hearing loss. In 2014 she was awarded both and Artists Initiative and Arts Learning grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Recently she has been the recipient of a VSA Jerome Emerging Artists Grant, a fellowship through Art(ists) on the Verge and an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Most recently Sylvestre has served as the artist in residence at the Center for Applied Translational Sensory Science and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

   Liza Sylvestre: Captioned  A  publication  is forthcoming, with a conversation between Liza Sylvestre and curator Jason Judd.    


Liza Sylvestre: Captioned

A publication is forthcoming, with a conversation between Liza Sylvestre and curator Jason Judd. 


Artist Reception

Friday, October 12
6 to 8 pm


E.S.E (East South East)

February 23– April 1, 2018

University Galleries of Illinois State University

Titled after Terttu Uibopuu’s most recent series of photographs, E.S.E. (East South East) is the largest solo exhibition of the New York-based artist’s work to date. The exhibition features twenty-five photographs taken throughout the United States and Estonia, each revealing in its human, natural, or architectural subjects a quiet fortitude amidst the adversity of ongoing recovery from political occupation, natural disaster, or recession. Uibopuu was born in Soviet-occupied Estonia, spending her formative years during the period of the fall of the Soviet Union, which dissolved in 1991. She developed an interest in photography, and upon receiving a photography award from Philip Morris as a teen in 2001, she used the funds to purchase a one-way plane ticket to the United States—ultimately ending up in a small city in northern Illinois before moving to Chicago and finally relocating to New York.

While on a road trip to Florida from Illinois, Uibopuu was struck by the unfamiliar landscape of the Southern U.S. On a subsequent visit to Estonia, she began to notice parallels between her post-Soviet home country and the post-Katrina American South. This realization prompted her to revisit Louisiana and Florida and consequently develop E.S.E. (East South East) in 2014, aiming to blur the geographical lines between these two politically charged regions. Recently, she has expanded the range of her project to cover other areas of the U.S. she has a personal connection to, including, for example, a portrait of a working-class couple in the Great Recession-burdened city of Rockford, Illinois—an hour west of where she first lived in the U.S.—or an elderly immigrant couple stoically dancing at a Fourth of July party at a senior center she had worked at in the Bronx.

Anything that might distinguish the two countries represented in the series has faded far into the periphery of Uibopuu’s photographs. The artist explains, “As I feel at home both in America and in Estonia, I want to create my own photographic history, which combines these two disparate regions.” Uibopuu’s unusual life experiences and her own sense of fortitude grant her the unique ability to, as she states, “show the slow recovery from generational trauma of many contrasting places, and not how we are different, but perhaps, how we are all the same.”

On the surface, the images in the exhibition feature portraits that explore nuances of temperament, moments that illuminate routine life, and landscapes that reveal traces of human existence. Beneath this surface, however, lurks a conflict just out of view: a woman sunbathing in a green but craggy space as a reprieve from the cold Soviet-style block apartments just beyond the horizon; a flooded Estonian jail now used as a recreation spot; or a handsome young man exposing a tattoo of a bible verse on his bare chest in the Bayou of Louisiana. Uibopuu conveys these heightened moments of endurance, whether, as she states, “photographing a haunting nighttime image of a tree near the Mississippi delta that survived Hurricane Katrina a decade before, or directing a harsh flash upon the stoic face of a Russian boxer after losing a match.” Neither portraying stories of sympathy nor anecdotes of redemption, Uibopuu’s photographs capture the intricacies of people’s resilience that would otherwise be lost in the day’s routine.

A publication is forthcoming, with an essay by Estonian art historian Liisa Kaljula and a foreword by exhibition curator Jason Judd. Terttu Uibopuu: E.S.E. (East South East) will travel to the Rockford Art Museum in Rockford, Illinois, where it will be on view from June 20 through November 11, 2018.

Terttu Uibopuu (b. 1984) is an Estonian photographer currently living and working in New York City. She had a solo exhibition at Soloway gallery in New York City in 2017 and was featured in Vice magazine in 2016. Uibopuu’s work has also been exhibited at Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, New York; Nicole Klagsbrun, New York; Schneider Gallery, Chicago; Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago; and Society of Korean Photography, Seoul, Korea. She has received the Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship at Yale University and The Tierney Fellowship in New York City. She has also participated in panels and lectures in the U.S. and Estonia including the Yale University School of Art; City College, New York; Estonian Art Academy, Tallinn, Estonia; Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts; Estonian Art Academy (Eesti Kunstiakadeemia), Tallinn, Estonia, among others. Uibopuu was a resident at the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, New York, and is currently a resident in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency. Uibopuu holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Yale University School of Art. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Terttu Uibopuu’s exhibition is organized by University Galleries’ Curator Jason Judd and is sponsored by the Harold K. Sage Foundation and the Illinois State University Foundation Fund. Programs at University Galleries are sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The artist reception is co-sponsored by Hyatt Place, Bloomington-Normal.

Terttu Uibopuu:  E.S.E. (East South East)  A publication is forthcoming, with an essay by Estonian art historian Liisa Kaljula and a foreword by exhibition curator Jason Judd.

Terttu Uibopuu:
E.S.E. (East South East)

A publication is forthcoming, with an essay by Estonian art historian Liisa Kaljula and a foreword by exhibition curator Jason Judd.

Artist Reception

Friday, February 23
5 to 7pm

Artist Lecture

Monday, February 26

Exhibition Itinerary

Rockford Art Museum 
Rockford, Illinois
June 20 through November 11, 2018.

University Galleries
Normal, Illinois
February 23 through April 1, 2018.



October 21 – December 17, 2017

University Galleries of Illinois State University


Erin Washington: Light Touch features new and recent collages, paintings, drawings, and sculpture by the Chicago-based artist. From a silverpoint portrait of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti to a chalk drawing of the presumed shape of a wormhole, Washington’s multilayered works consist of a medley of ambiguous scientific diagrams, art historical references, Post-it notes, studio debris, mythological figures, and self-deprecating jokes. Washington utilizes her panels in a similar way chalkboards have been historically used: as a temporary surface to present a lesson, theory, or problem. Though this approach situates Washington as a sort of teacher and the viewer as a student, she undermines this assumed authority by revealing her process: attaching Post-it notes of ideas instead of rendering the final product, writing critical notations on better aesthetic choices instead of changing them, or taping images of what inspired the piece to the surface instead of claiming authorship. Washington notes, “I always held tightly to the process of things: the process of telling a good story or the process of baking bread. I’m fascinated by the attention required for a series of incremental steps to produce a thing (a joke, a loaf, or a painting). Especially if the result is temporal, all that is left for grasping is the experience.”

Through this particular focus on process, Washington consistently draws unexpected parallels between material and image, enabling her to approach timeless themes and dense subjects with a sense of wonder, wit, and wile. For example, the panel Light Touch (2017) consists of drawings and collages that reference visual perception, including: a drawn diagram of Descartes’ theory of vision; a hand-painted grey-scale value study; a fluorescent colored thread from a blanket in the artist’s studio; a variety of handwritten notes; and a ripped black postcard photo of artist Marina Abramovic’s stern face—embellished with googly eyes. Other works are produced as handmade chalkboards, which are first brushed with a porous acrylic pigment, upon which she laboriously draws, erases, and redraws images ranging from a broken-nosed head of Aphrodite to the layout of a Ouija board. In Washington’s four-foot-tall sculpture entitled Idiot Professor (2017), an actual sandwich-board-style chalkboard wears the artist’s shoes on its two forward facing legs. While the front panel features a chalk drawing of the goddess Athena over the handwritten phrase “Thinking causes complications,” the backside simply bears a taped “kick me” sign.

Washington will create her first large-scale geodesic dome for this exhibition. Visitors are invited to enter and experience the heat-trapping qualities and the semi-transparent golden tint of the space blankets covering the structure. Drawing inspiration from the ingenuity of architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller and from famous geodesic domes such as Biosphere 2, an Earth system science research facility in her home state of Arizona, Washington hopes to replicate an historical science-based structure that, as she states “is similar to my approach with my two-dimensional work.” Washington continues, “Until now I have not been able to create a structure that allows the viewer to experience not only being able to be surrounded by the material, but the ability to see through it.” She continues, “my hope is to create something beautiful and unusual—something that slows the viewer down, upsets reason/logic, and rewards existing within it.” 

Washington’s work has been exhibited at numerous venues throughout Chicago including Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Hyde Park Art Center, Roots & Culture, and The Franklin. She was selected as one of NewCity’s “Breakout Artists 2016” and has been featured in publications such as Sports Illustrated, New American Paintings, art ltd. Magazine, Chicago Magazine, and ART CRUSH. She received a Bachelor of Studio Arts from University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Washington lives in Chicago where she is currently a lecturer in the Painting and Drawing Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

This exhibition is organized by University Galleries’ Curator Jason Judd and is sponsored by the Harold K. Sage Foundation and the Illinois State University Foundation Fund. Programs at University Galleries are sponsored in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The artist reception is co-sponsored by Hyatt Place, Bloomington-Normal.


Artist Reception

Friday, October 20
5 to 7pm

Artist Lecture

Wednesday, November 8



February 21 – April 2, 2017

University Galleries of Illinois State University


With its seven framed-out wooden façades,­­ Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson’s Subdivision transforms two galleries into a faux neighborhood where, on a weekly basis, additional artists are invited to manipulate one of the home-like structures in any manner of their choosing. Glossy white sheets of acrylic are attached to the face of every façade, each bearing its own vinyl decal depicting a common household object such as a vent, light switch, or power outlet. The installation immerses visitors in a landscape that evokes a recession-stricken, partially developed subdivision that is strangely populated by utilitarian-looking, Mondrian-like sculptures surrounded by decals of picket fences.

Subdivision will continually evolve during its six-week duration as the artists selected by Lacher and Robinson incrementally build upon, alter, or reinvent one of the aforementioned sculptures “causing,” according to Robinson and Lacher, “the exhibition to develop in ways not entirely within anyone’s control.” As people gather for the exhibition’s opening on Tuesday, February 21, at 5pm, Andy Roche and Selina Trepp will be the first participating artists to respond to their assigned structure. Following suit on successive Fridays, artists Amanda Bowles and Erin Hayden, Alejandro T. Acierto, Thad Kellstadt, and collaborative duo Melissa Oresky and Zak Boerger, will “perform” their work with a free public event in the gallery. In the last week of the exhibition, the “subdivision” will have changed from a conglomeration of similar architectural forms to a mash-up of different aesthetics, styles, practices, materials, and tastes—from a series of houses to a community of neighbors.

Throughout this collaborative exhibition, Lacher and Robinson’s roles will have transformed from traditional artists to artist-curators, or from material-manipulators to exhibition-makers. This hybrid role offers creative freedoms not afforded to a “professional” curator, from disregarding clarity in favor of experimentation, to destabilizing conventional roles and critiquing institutions—sometimes at the very institutions in which they are creating. The artist-curator freely moves between labels, uninhibited by expectations other than producing the unexpected. Everything the artist-curator does can be deemed as a work of art, from materials and coordination to another artist’s artwork. For Lacher and Robinson, the exhibition itself is the true medium.



Tuesday, February 21
5 pm – 7 pm

Artist Lecture:

Wednesday, March 8


Andy Roche and Selina Trepp 
February 21 at 5pm 

Amanda Bowles and Erin Hayden 
March 3 at 7pm       

Alejandro T. Acierto 
March 10 at 7pm       

Thad Kellstadt 
March 24 at 7pm     

Melissa Oresky & Zak Boerger 
March 31 at 7pm   

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Marissa Lee Benedict & 
David Rueter
Sarah Rothberg

September 20 – October 16, 2016

University Galleries of Illinois State University


Featuring interactive installations by an individual artist and a collaborative duo, Placelessness transforms two galleries into immersive environments in which the viewer experiences an oscillation between their sense of actual and virtual space. Visitors entering Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter’s bedroom-sized telecom shelter Dark Fiber witness a video projection depicting a cinematic montage of the two artists dressed as laborers, laying an unauthorized fiber optic cable from the Pacific Ocean across the Western landscape, through Chicago, and, strangely enough, into the very telecom structure in which the viewer is sitting.

With its wall-to-wall shag rug, an old swivel chair, a CRT television, and a virtual reality headset with sound, Sarah Rothberg’s installation is immersive to the point of disorientation. Wearing VR goggles, visitors are transported out of the family-room-furnished space into an encapsulating collage-like representation of the artist’s childhood home. Their ability to control their exploration through an unusual environment—created by compositing digital 3-D models with old family photographs and VHS home movies—affords viewers an experience not unlike a lucid dream.

Both installations invite visitors to sway in and out of real and perceived places, whether you believe you are connected to a cable stretching across an ocean or looking around a room that isn’t there.

Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter began their collaboration in 2015 with Dark Fiber, first exhibited at Chicago Artists Coalition, and then at Contemporary Art Brussels and EXPO Chicago. The artist team received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 2015 for their collaborative project Gary Streetlights. Individually, Benedict has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, UK; the DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago; and Threewalls, Chicago. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Rueter’s work has been exhibited internationally at galleries and festivals, including the International Symposium on Electronic Art, and Northern Spark in Minneapolis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Oberlin College, and a Master of Fine Arts in Art and Technology Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is Assistant Professor in Art and Technology at the University of Oregon.

Sarah Rothberg lives and works in New York City, where she is the Virtual Reality Experience Director at the Samsung Accelerator and an adjunct faculty member at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in galleries such as Bitforms Gallery, New York; REVERSE Space, New York; Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, New York; Babycastles, New York; and Grand Central Station. Rothberg received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree in Professional Studies from New York University.




Quotidian Infrastructure: Walking Normal 
Marissa Lee Benedict
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Opening Reception

Tuesday, September 20
5 pm - 7 pm


Claire Ashley:

Cawt, Taut, Hot .... Not


May 21 - September 11, 2016

University Galleries of Illinois State University


Claire Ashley’s two-gallery installation immerses visitors in a multisensory landscape packed with DayGlo-colored pneumatic sculptures. It consists of wildly painted plastic-coated tarps whose billowing forms range from boulder size up to floor-to-ceiling scale. Ashley subverts their heroic size, however, with a sense of the absurd: sewn patches, bruise-like colors, and creases, render the sculptures’ taut, membrane-like surfaces as bloated, cartoony organisms referencing motherhood and eroticism. These encapsulating environments are permeated in the larger space by Joshua Patterson's soundscape, and in the smaller space by ultraviolet lighting.

During the exhibition’s closing reception, five of Ashley’s sculptures will come alive in an outdoor performance at Uptown Normal’s scenic roundabout. Powered by student performers sealed inside, the colorful organ-like forms will transform the roundabout into a surreal dance floor as they frolic in response to a live audio piece played by Patterson.

Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Ashley currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois, and teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Contemporary Practices. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions, site-specific installations, and performances at venues that include Cleve Carney Art Gallery, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois; Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Portland; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; The Tetley, Leeds, England; and Highland Institute for Contemporary Art, Inverness, Scotland. Ashley received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. She is represented by Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas, Texas.



All-Ages Workshop

Create & Inflate 

Saturday, August 27
10 am 

Closing Reception

Friday, September 9
5 pm – 7 pm


Claire Ashley: Hot Rocks

Uptown Normal Roundabout 
Friday, September 9
6 p.m.



October 9 – October 31, 2015

DEMO Project


Artists: Conrad Bakker, Bethany Carlson, Bill Conger, Eli Craven, Jenny Hansen, and Joel Ross.

A sinking feeling is experienced in the moment right before our lives take an unexpected turn. Sometimes this moment of anticipation lingers, yet other times we are compelled by our curiosity to confront the promise of bitter news. Though this moment of confrontation liberates us from suspense, it serves as a demarcation point between how things were and how things will be. 

Sinking Feeling employs the domestic history of DEMO Project’s space—a small house that originally served as a dwelling for caretakers who worked in Springfield’s most prominent houses in the early twentieth-century—as a platform for exploring unusual relationships among the artwork created by six artists based in Central Illinois. Each work conjures an uneasy feeling, from the psychologically suffocating effects of Bill Conger’s radiant wall image Hell Hull, to the unsettling embrace between a mysterious man and a cornered woman in Eli Craven’s Cornered.

Significant loss is evident in Bethany Carlson’s pair of infant-sized black burial gowns that unnaturally extend from the ceiling to floor. Insignificant losses—including bits of food wrappers or aluminum foil—and the hand-drawn organic shapes made in response to their forms, populate Jenny Hansen’s works on paper to create a field of somber souvenirs and tenderly drawn replies.

A hand-carved wooden J. CREW catalogue reanimates an easily discarded object and heightens both the economic status and absence of the fictional owners in Conrad Bakker’s CLEARANCE [JCREW]. Hanging on the exterior siding of DEMO Project is Joel Ross’s text installation, I thought this would be the best way to tell you, which serves as a reminder for each person leaving the house that they, too, might sink into the queasy feeling prompted by that forewarning.

All images by Brytton Bjorngaard



Opening Reception

Friday, October 9
6 pm – 8:30 pm




June 15 - September 9, 2015

University Galleries of Illinois State University


Normal Reality presents twelve artists from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, whose embrace of popular digital technologies raises questions about normalcy in the age of accessibility. Video art as a medium began in the mid-1960s with the advent of portable cameras and recorders, which, though cumbersome and expensive, offered a limited number of artists a new tool for exploring issues of time, space, language, and the body—with an immediacy not possible with film. As video technology advanced to camcorders in the 1980s, “effects processing” facilities still had to be rented by the hour for anyone trying to use digital effects and edits with any level of sophistication. Now, many of us carry high-definition smartphone cameras in our pockets, with fairly easy access to the limitless possibilities of cutting-edge editing software. 

The artists featured in Normal Reality are guided by the exploratory concerns laid out by early video practitioners, but the environments they navigate are accessed largely through a multilayered and ultra-fragmented media experience of gaming, 24/7 Internet access, social media posting at a stoplight, and GPS. This experience is a given: digital reality is reality, Facebook is our forum, and posting pictures of where we are and what we are eating is increasingly how we define ourselves. 

Sparkling I by Petra Cortright (Los Angeles) is one of twelve videos in the exhibition exemplifying this “normal reality.” Performing in front of a built-in webcam with preset digital effects, Cortright nonchalantly waves a tree branch like a magic wand that dissolves into sparkling star effects, accompanied by the most clichéd synthesized fairytale-like soundtrack. Her digitized body’s real-time oscillation between actual motions and their dematerialization into a virtual realm hits home the increasing displacement of actual nature by our experience as measured on screen time.  

In Jaakko Pallasvuo’s (Helsinki) video, Utopia, the artist/narrator dispassionately relates, in the manner of a director’s commentary on a DVD, his failure to capture in video—as opposed to language—the essence of an idyllic Swedish landscape we view on the screen. Cutting to his small Finnish apartment where he edits on a laptop whose screen we view face-on, his interspersing of Japanese emoticons and clip art implies that the video he shot is no more capable of capturing the Sublime than emoticons are of expressing actual emotion. As the sequence quickly cuts back to him walking into an expanse of mountain peaks and lush greenery, his voiceover states “…Maybe it felt as unreal as it looks.” 

In Realm of NothingnessKathy Rose (New York) integrates dance, theater, and cinematic features into a dream-like narrative which draws parallels between tradition and hi-tech. Her audio and editing mimicking the rhythm and choreography of Japanese Noh theater, she holds true to the traditional storytelling about masks as a means of transformation between supernatural and human forms. In Rose’s case, the masks are not made from Japanese Cypress but from digital collage, and the theater is not a hardwood stage but a black video screen on which the characters can pop in and out between reality and illusion. 

The nine other videos in the exhibition are: Everything Becomes X-Ray by Mariam Graff (Los Angeles), The Realm of Nothingness by Rosa Menkman (Arnhem, Netherlands), MindPlace ThoughtStream by Shana Moulton (New York, NY), central~lattice by Brenna Murphy (EdmundsWashington), The Land Behind by Sabrina Ratté (Montreal), Implicit Bias—ghost in the shell by Wolfie E. Rawk (Chicago), Island Light by Andrew Rosinski (New York), QTzrk_loop by Jon J. Satrom (Chicago), and floVV by Małgosia Woźnica (Warsaw).

Additional Programming

Milner Library

University Galleries is partnering with Milner Library to display 12 videos from Normal Reality on a large flat screen television in the stairwell on the third floor landing during all hours of operation August 3 through October 12.


University Galleries is collaborating with ACRE TV to broadcast videos from the artists in groups of three, producing four weekly segments between August 5 and August 31.



Curator Lecture

Normal Reality: Internet Aesthetics, Digital Bodies, and Accidental Audiences
Wednesday, September 2
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Closing Reception

Wednesday, September 2
5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Video Screenings

Milner Library
August 3 - October 12

August 5 - 31




October 20 – November 14, 2014

Rockford University Art Gallery, Clark Arts Center

Ultra-Deep Field is a group exhibition that considers the inadequacy of representing desire, time, and scale by way of hand. Though the artwork spans sculpture, photography, drawing, and video, the pieces posture themselves as self-evident, allowing the literal to be experienced as poetic. In the exhibition, Joseph Belknap lights Sarah Belknap’s cigarette using the sun, Bill Conger stencils an exact replica of a poem written by his 8 year old son, while Erin Washington’s 9 x 12 black acrylic panel documents the process of her hand healing by using her injured hand to draw itself. To this end, Ultra-Deep Field suggests possibilities of how to reorient one’s body with the everyday world that acts upon it.

As Sarah and Joseph Belknap find a way to harness a complex system to have a smoke, Erin Washington asks “why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole earth yet? The Belknaps and Washington both materialize a new understanding of the cosmic and earthbound from a very local place, themselves. Bill Conger’s lyrical titles amplify a sense of longing and melancholy, which becomes increasingly haunting as more time is spent with each piece: A vintage lighting rod, a smashed wine bottle glued back together, and an exact replication of his young son’s poem. Adam Farcus’s wall poem, in five descending triangles, is a would-be potion that names materials that could be found in the Midwest. Like a materialization from Farcus’s potion, Bob Jones builds work out of humble materials local to him. Jones bounds sticks, rocks, dirt, studio debris with mud, paint, and glue in his studio with the aspiration to offer a link to the mythical through an alchemical change. Daniel Baird uses both found objects and structures he creates to subvert the experience between technological progress and the primitive. One piece includes a rapid prototype, a bird wing, an ejection seat handle, an emergency blanket, a meteorite, and marble dust to name only a few. Katie Bell’s paintings have no plan from the beginning. Though they hang on the wall, the process is about finding the painting within the hunk of plaster. Laura Davis plays with scale, using an image of a necklace  to formally materialize a likeness that proves to be a void. On the other hand, Holly Murkerson’s photographic sculptures reminds the viewer that the photograph is a space they can never enter physically. A desire that you can stand in front of but never be in.

Exhibition Essay


Opening Reception

Friday, October 24
6 pm – 8 pm



April 6 – April 27, 2014

ACRE Projects


Rounds brings together collaborative and individual works by Michael Milano, Alyssa Moxely, and Milad Mozari. With backgrounds in a variety of materials and mediums, the three artists come together at meeting points in their work. Approached from these different perspectives, they explore the process of pattern making across visual and sonar planes. Together, they have recorded a collaborative sound work that will be played on multiple record players. Played back at different speeds and distributed throughout the space, the sounds will build on each other through beating and harmonic relationships. Visual works by the artists along with the Harmonograph–created by Moxely and Mozari at the ACRE residency–will reflect this effect of harmonic pattern and interference. The sonic and visual works represent simultaneous undulations throughout the space, creating patterns that are experienced in relationship to one another.

Curated with Etta Sandry and Lynnette Miranda as ACRE’s year-long series of solo exhibitions by 2013 ACRE summer residents.



June 13, 2014

Downtown Rockford, Illinois


While living in Rockford Illinois, Jason Judd and Iga Puchalska were aware of the creative energy that was growing around them - the emergence of the Werkle’s West Side Show Room, Pablo Korona’s Conveyor, the Hip Hop Congress, Mainfraim’s new Fraim X Mortar space, to only name a few. While considering Rockford’s incredible collection of public art along the River Walk, Puchalska and Judd wondered how they can engage the Rockford community through a contemporary form of public art—one that is not static or steel but ephemeral, collaborative, and alive. They decided to investigate this idea under the name Public Practice.

With no budget and no permits from the City of Rockford, their idea culminated on July 13, 2014 with a project entitled “Parade”. In the spirit of collaboration and public engagement in the arts, Public Practice, artist Jesus Correa, and Rockford Art Deli organized an innovative art exhibition that not only started in the public, but also invited the public to participate. Public Practice considered a parade as a medium of art and the artifacts (or floats) to be art objects. Local and regional artists were invited to create sidewalk sized floats to accompany them during the parade, which ended at Rockford Art Deli as an art exhibition. Along with the artists, the public was encouraged to join our sidewalk parade. The parade was an incredible success with over 150 community members and artists participating.


MDW Fair 2012

November 9 - 11, 2012



Artists: Jeff Austin, Daniel Baird, Billy Buck, Marissa Lee Benedict, Sofia Leiby, Holly Murkerson, Casilda Sanchez, Clare Torina, Erin Washington, and Allison Yasukawa.

In a collaborative effort to expand the dialogue of contemporary art practices, the exhibtion booth featured ten artists who have previously worked with Make Space. Through continuous collaboration, Make Space expands beyond the bounds of the Internet and bridges the gap between space and screen, to bring artists and audience together IRL. The Make Space exhibition booth at MDW created a dialogue between the selected artists and the audience experienced in physical space rather than through the medium of windows, tabs, mouse, and screen. 

In addition to programming, which took place on November 10th, an edition of take-ways were produced for the exhibition. For each artist, we designed an individual pamphlet that included biographical information and an exclusive interview (not available online), which then opened into an 11″x17″ poster of the artists’ work.

Curated with Etta Sandry and Lynnette Miranda / Pubication Design & Exhibition Collaborator: Kathy Cho