FROM THE CURATOR
The Chicago iteration of this series features thinkers, makers, and arts philosophers who also teach in or otherwise engage their communities. You’ll find these artists onstage, backstage, in-studio and hosting collective works in a variety of venues. Some form duos and collectives, their surprise presence in each other’s pieces a collaborative wink. Their biographies weave and flourish in concert, seriously enriching their city’s landscape and ether.
When Tyler invited me to contribute content to Blueshift, I was immediately certain I preferred others’ artifacts to my own. Each of these artists has impacted my craft and practices. I was one person when I experienced their art, another afterwards.
I play Avantist when traveling internationally, when running to job interviews, their careful bass lines and chill vocals at home on any coast. People smile wide when I play their tracks. I still carry Jory’s early calling cards, recite those affirmations and consider how his installations asked me to look at how I live in my blackness, how I think of prettiness. I see Tavia’s white white shoes kick woodchips and remain unsmudged, recall her unanswerable questions, her will to sear into herself to get to her truest possible performance. NIC, their body the matrix sitting on Lake Michigan on days it flows as an optical illusion; NIC in ministry, inviting teens to Milly Rock to freedom, however many days it takes. Keith has done such profound work with tender decay, I look at pigeons and blooms and waste with greater attentiveness, and myth is kinder to my memory. Derrick’s cinematic works, shining and unafraid of space, like standing inside a person’s heart. Joelle is a poet in every sense, all their work in exquisite harmony. I run my tongue over my teeth and hear the sea-dwellers talk to me when I sleep. Aricka’s voice so clear, unblinking, I rarely put on makeup without remembering her literary treat of a saleswoman who tried to shade her foundation. Christian makes my flesh more vulnerable but receptive to sensation, like I can release fear that someone or something will come at my neck. She has whole churches in her diaphragm. Zach brimming with his lineage and with emotion, a seer who builds archives in pursuit of truths that honor the dead, the not-yet-born. Amina was always teaching me, I had so little to offer a sure-footed artist prepared to grapple and erect institutions for healing. AJ, orchestrating productive disruption of wan notions, their stance deep-rooted.
Chi-town floats grit that rests between your teeth and under your contacts, creates haze in your dreams. This must affect the way people move, adapt, and grow relentless. It’s a city under tremendous pressure, at times with unfriendly eyes searing towards it. The only place I’ve ever been where youth feel shopping centers are not for them. And still, this cosmos in the Midwest is home to some of the most revisionist makers I know. I encourage you to take your time with this folio, to sit with it, return to it.
I encourage you to research these artists, and invite them to work with you if inclined. Each has made an effort with intention. These intentions are radical in their welcome of generation. They exemplify the best of cultural producers: those who will us to rise together.