Germinate- Short. Paola Cabal

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A couple of weeks ago we released the first installment of Germinate. Karen Azarnia graciously let us into her studio and gave us an insight on curating Radiance at Woman Made Gallery and her own artwork. She mentioned the upcoming show for the artist in-residence, Paola Cabal at Riverside Art Center, where, like in Radiance, light would be the muse. Here is a little conversation with Paola about Crescent, the culmination of her residence at RAC.

Paola Cabal

A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Paola Cabal has lived in Chicago since 2001. Trained in observational realism, Cabal continues to implement responsive looking in her increasingly diverse practice, which includes site-specific installation, collaborative work, and more recently curating and writing in addition to her ongoing engagement with more traditional drawing media. Alongside her own art-making, Paola Cabal is an active member of the three-person collaborative (ƒ)utility projects and an educator at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and DePaul University.

IMG_20150830_172352172Karen Azarnia (curator) and Artist-in-residence, Paola Cabal.

Paola normally creates site specific installations tracking the transitions of daylight. For Crescent, at RAC , Cabal spent the night of 7.31 to 8.1 tracking the passing of the “blue moon” light through the gallery windows as it played with the architecture of the gallery. The end result: a series of shapes on both walls and floors that trick you into believing there is light coming into the room from multiple light sources. In actuality, all you are seeing are lightly painted ghosts of the light that used to be, making us think about the passage of time and fleeting moments.

“The not knowing and then the coming to an idea (the moonlight was a gift, I had no idea it would come into the space that way), and then working like mad to make that happen.”


DG: Is there anything you’d like to share about your process?

PC: Sure, there’s something that’s been on my mind since I had a conversation with Diane Simpson, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since: I had no idea what I was going to do at the Freeark Gallery before beginning my residency there. I had no idea. And lest that should sound cavalier or overconfident, let me also say that it stressed me out. I completed a residency at Ragdale in which I was thinking about this show; I got as far as building a scale model of the gallery space, but I *still* didn’t know what I was making.

So, I’m talking about the show with Diane Simpson and she is asking me what I plan to do, and I confess to her that I don’t know. Diane being Diane, and brilliant and sweet, she says “Oh, I’m sure you’ll come up with something great. I have total confidence in you… The thing about the way you work,” she remarked, “Is that you’re kind of inventing it from scratch each time. I don’t know how you do it.,” she said. “It would stress me out so much.”

DG: Yup. Site specific work is terrifying but super rewarding.

PC: I don’t know if it had occurred to me until that conversation though, that most people don’t work that way, that for most artists artistic production involves the creation of a series of discrete objects which are then placed in conversation with one another for a show, rather than dauntingly improvised and immediately responsive reactions to a specific place.

IMG_20150830_171145983“As a site specific artist whose work only gets manifest, as such, in the form of a public exhibition, my work can almost be considered a series of public experiments.”

DG: Most site specific work is very responsive. You can plan up to a certain point but most of the time you have to get familiar with the space, listen to what it needs, and embrace whatever happens as you’re working. And when you are done, you feel like a rockstar.

PC: Rock star though, I mean, I wish! Something I think I do share with more traditional makers is the feeling of profound ambivalence that follows after I’ve made anything. As a site specific artist whose work only gets manifest, as such, in the form of a public exhibition, my work can almost be considered a series of public experiments. So I finish, usually sleep deprived, and I mean, I *hope* it’s ok? I think it’s good? Your friends who show up to your exhibition opening are not going to be like “Damn P, Y U make such crappy crap?” I mean, I do thankfully have one or two friends who would give me the straight dope, but for the most part everyone is going to smile and be gracious and wonderful, you know? So that’s little indication whether I’ve made something worth looking at.
Instead, I have to overcome my ambivalence by going back to my own show again and again, kind of making peace with what I would have liked to get to but didn’t, what I did get to but would have liked to do better, until the whole thing either holds up, finally, or collapses under the weight of my continued scrutiny.
I’m marginally better now but what this used to mean is that I would be the worlds’ worst self promoter. My ambivalence would run so deep and continuous and daunting that I wouldn’t even tell people I had a show up. And then like maybe a week before it would close, having finally wrestled myself into a position of affinity or agreement with what I’d made, *then* I’d tell some people that it was there.

IMG_20150830_170957440Paola Cabal. To and From, 2015. Site-Specific installation. Two-Channel video

In the Sculpture Garden, (ƒ)utility projects (a collaborative comprised of Paola Cabal, Michael Genge, and Chris Grieshaber), have a site specific installation where they merged the garden with the gallery, by incorporating walls, the surrounding trees, and natural night.


Crescent runs through October 3rd.

Riverside Arts Center + Freeark Gallery

32 E Quincy St, Riverside, Illinois 60546

More images of the show:

Art at Morton College. Karen Murphy.

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Karen E. Murphy is a sculptor born and raised in Oak Park and currently living in Schaumburg. She earned a BS in Business from Indiana University and recently graduated from Northern Illinois University with MFA concentrating in Ceramics. She has been a resident artist and received a Kiln God Award at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, ME. Her works have been published in Lark Book’s 500 Prints on Clay.  Karen exhibits her work nationally.

I use clay as my primary material to create abstract geometric images. I explore my interest in systems of structure and relationship through geometric form as a method of examining the conceptual process of organizing perceptions about boundaries.
Clay is typically used for its properties to create or cover objects of volume. This body of work examines clay’s relationship to form and surface in a low relief, 2 dimensional manner that relates to painting, printing or collage. The clay is used as a medium for the expression of mark and the unique surface of glaze. Utilizing repetitive geometry, references to nature and patterns from design, the selection of material and focus on process questions the hierarchy of material in art.
In some of the work 3D printing techniques were used to create originals that were then molded into clay. The contrast of new technology with the earthy ceramic medium is intended to provoke consideration about the nature of progress and technology.

Karen’s work will be up from November 3rd through December 19th.
Morton College is located on 3801 S Central Ave, Cicero, IL 60804Building C, Second floor across from the Student Union.

Artist contact:

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Curated by Diana Gabriel


Art at Morton college. Nathan Verneu

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Nathan Vernau was born in 1981 in the great state of Wisconsin. He earned his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2005. After earning his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009, he moved to Chicago. His work has been reviewed by,, and The Chicago Tribune, as well as featured in The Madison Review, New American Paintings, Studio Visit Magazine, and MISC Magazine. He has exhibited work at the Project Lodge, Overture Center for the Arts, Wisconsin Union Galleries, and the Common Wealth Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin. In Chicago he has shown at The Milk Factory, OhNo!Doom Gallery, Offwhite, Robert Bills Contemporary, and the Comfort Station.

There are quite a few symbols I have been using repeatedly for the last few years. Among them: cinder blocks, letters (envelopes), balloons, picture frames, and hearts. I don’t like to define too much what these objects mean to me, because in many cases people can figure that out for themselves. While they may have a specific personal meaning, that information is not readily available to the viewer. However, the viewer reacts to these objects and what they convey to him or her, and the manner in which they are composed provide further reactions to what those symbols might mean.
These drawings are made in response and reflection to my own emotions and experiences. I want to tell people about them, and I choose to do that in images. I could reveal the ugly truth about something and take the mystery out of it, but by doing that I would take away the opportunity for the viewer to relate my artwork to their own experiences. Giving away the story would be too easy – and in some cases, embarrassing. Why give one ‘answer’ when there’s room for interpretation? Do you want to be told what something ‘is,’ or would you rather figure it out yourself?
-Nathan Vernau, 2014

Nathan’s Work will be on display  9-22 through 11- 1 at Morton College from. Building C,  Second floor across from the Student Union.

Curated by Diana Gabriel.

Morton College. 3801 S Central Ave  Cicero, IL 60804

Art at Morton College. Casey VanHecke.

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Casey VanHecke grew up in Moline, Illinois. She received her BFA in painting at Illinois State University in 2013. Casey currently resides in Chicago, IL and has been exhibiting her work in the city and throughout Illinois. She is the Co-curator of Best Friend’s Gallery.

Casey’s small scale oil paintings are quick and innocent gestures of moments in her life.  Her pieces could be described as nostalgic and delicate but with a detachment that we often think of in digital snap shots or the way children relate to their drawings. This is reinforced by her chosen scale and the way the paintings are composed on the canvas.
As we install the show, she can pinpoint exactly where the image from each piece comes from and how it relates to her life. Sometimes they are memories of places she’s been or things she’s consumed; some are things that humor her about her everyday surroundings.
I imagine her sitting down and quickly painting one of these small canvases, the same way we write down ideas of something we thought funny or a lovely moment in our life, just to keep a memento. But her paintings feel as if those moments were urging her to record them so they are not forgotten. In that way, Casey is archiving her life and experiences, but instead of jotting it down in a journal or a crumpled up piece of paper, she does it oil paint on a canvas.

Casey’s work will be up from 3.3 through 3.28 at Morton College. 3801 S Central Ave
Cicero, IL  Building C. Second floor across from Student Union.

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Curated by Diana Gabriel

Art at Morton College. Jesse Howard.

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Jesse Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Ball State University, with a major in Commercial Art and a minor in Business Administration. After briefly working for a topographer and finding the work too mechanical and client based, he took a different career path into business.  He has exhibited with the Chicago Cultural Center, 5+5 Perspectives In Black Art, has also been a resident of the Ragdale Foundation, and a 3Arts nominee.

Howard uses traditional media such as charcoal and water color to illustrate the plight of the homeless and disenfranchised. His themes often present an image of African American males as he sees them in Chicago urban settings. Jesse employs the physical and emotional observations of that urban setting into his art practice. Those observations may include graffiti written on a newspaper stand, the sound of an L train, the chatter of college students, a half burned cigarette, the homeless begging for food and money, and the people ignoring them.
The intellectual and cultural diversity of the Chicago downtown college community serve as a back drop for his work. The differences in the students have a profound impact on how they relate to one another on a daily basis. This new college community primarily comprises of Asian, African American, Middle Eastern, and middle class White students.
These students, some of which recently completed the GED, are interacting with the homeless either on a conscious or unconscious level; the homeless are definitely part of their environment. Jesse hopes that through his art and lectures, he can engage the college community to recognize the homeless and disenfranchised as more than a shadow in a point in time through their existence.

Jesse’s work will be up from 3.3 through 3.28 at Morton College. 3801 S Central Ave
Cicero, IL  Building C. First floor across from the books store.

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Curated by Diana Gabriel