press release

Live/Work Opening Celebration: September 22, 7–9pm, with participating artists, live music, complimentary appetizers, and a cash bar

This fall at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, seven site-specific installations shed light on the creative process. Makeshift , on view September 23, 2018–March 3, 2019, examines the influence and function of the studio in contemporary art practices.

In collaboration with artist/curator Michelle Grabner, Makeshift features the work of seven U.S.-based artists: Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Brad Kahlhamer, Odili Donald Odita, Barbara Rossi, Greg Smith, and Alison Elizabeth Taylor.

The exhibition is part of the Arts Center’s Live/Work series—four exhibitions considering the influence and function of the most important of artist-built environments, the artist’s studio. Makeshift looks at the environment, tools, artists’ collections, and sources that fuel the process of creating the completed artworks on view. The three accompanying exhibitions include newly commissioned installations by Garry and Peggy Noland, Joel Otterson, and Virgil Marti.

The artists in Makeshift all produced new work for the exhibition.

Trenton Doyle Hancock constructs fantastical narratives, pulling from his personal experience, art historical references, and myriad pop culture references, resulting in a complex amalgamation of characters and plots possessing universal concepts of good and evil and all the grey in between. His Houston studio is filled with items from thrift shops that find their way into his work.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins encrusts found upholstery furniture with collage, ceramics, and papier-mâché, creating dynamic sculptural installations that are hybrid juxtapositions of the ready-made and the handmade. Her Portland, Oregon, studio houses a great variety of items waiting to be transformed.

Brad Kahlhamer examines his Native American identity in media ranging from sculpture and painting to performance and music to explore his “third place”—a meeting point of two opposing personal histories. His New York studio is a menagerie of taxidermy animals and fishing lures juxtaposed with musical equipment.

Odili Donald Odita is an abstract painter whose work explores color in both the figurative historical context and in the sociopolitical sense. A master of color and design, he analytically develops architectural-scaled wall paintings combining modernism with traditional Nigerian textile patterns. He uses his work to address the human condition through pattern, structure, and design. His studio is based in Philadelphia.

Barbara Rossi is one of the original Chicago Imagists. Haunting and distorted, Rossi’s images continue her longtime psychological investigations in identifying naturally occurring human features in found elements. She is known for meticulously rendered drawings and cartoonish paintings. Her studio is located in Berwyn, Illinois.

Greg Smith, a multidisciplinary artist with a PhD in physics from Harvard, sets out to record the American landscape through absurdist installation, sculpture, and video. His studio is located in Brooklyn, New York.

Alison Elizabeth Taylor has become known for reinvigorating the Renaissance craft of marquetry. After working within the limited palette afforded by natural woods, Taylor now mashes marquetry and paint in unprecedented ways, creating a new perspective on painting. Her studio is located in Brooklyn, New York.

“This concept is intrinsic to JMKAC’s ongoing dedication to supporting artists and artist environments,” said Karen Patterson, lead curator at JMKAC. “Michelle Grabner, who coedited the book The Studio Reader, which upended the conception of the artist’s studio, was an ideal partner for us. With Makeshift, she pulls back the curtain from the art world to reveal the real activities behind artistic production.”

Michelle Grabner is a curator, artist, and writer based in Wisconsin. She is a professor of art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she has taught for 20 years. She is the artistic director of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, on view through September 30. Grabner co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial and curated the 2016 Portland Biennial. In 2010, Mary Jane Jacob and Grabner coedited The Studio Reader, published by the University of Chicago Press.