Unfurling: Five Explorations in Art, Activism, and Archiving

 Sep 24, 2013, 6:00 AM – 6:00 AM
 Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, 929 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Unfurling: Five Explorations in Art, Activism, and Archiving
A Never The Same Exhibition

Faheem Majeed's ongoing “Perennial Garden” inspired by the wood paneling in the Margaret Burroughs Gallery at South Side Community Arts Center. Courtesy of Faheem Majeed.

Exhibition Dates: September 24–October 20, 2013

Exhibition Hours: Tuesdays & Wednesdays 12-3 pm; Saturdays 4-6 pm

For more information or to schedule a class/group visit, tour, or visiting appointment, please contact Mike Schuh, Program Coordinator, mikes1@uchicago.edu.

Location: Gray Center Lab at the University of Chicago, 929 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637 (in Midway Studios across the courtyard from the Logan Center for the Arts)


Fri Sep 27, 6-8 pm / OPENING RECEPTION (optional rsvp)

Sat Oct 5, 1-7 pm / CULTURE IN ACTION RECEPTIONCulture in Action: Public Art in Chicago Twenty Years Later, a public symposium held at The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, 969 E. 60th St. (1-4:30 pm) followed by a reception at the Gray Center Lab.

Sat Oct 12, 7-8:30 pm / EXTINCT ENTITIES PERFORMANCE: Extinct Entities, an artistic/curatorial collaborative, will present three commissioned performances by Alexandria Eregbu, Tomeka Reid, and Baraka de Soleil. Each artist was asked to create a new work inspired by the Affro-Arts Theater—a South Side art space initiated by Kelan Phil Cohran and others in 1967, and closed at the insistence of the city in 1968.  Extinct Entities is a collaborative project by Erin Nixon, Anthony Romero, and Anthony Stepter that investigates possibilities for reengaging with art spaces that no longer exist. A free publication produced in collaboration with Brandon Alvendia will be available throughout the run of the exhibition.

Sat Oct 19, 5-8 pm / Exhibition Closing Reception + Unfurling with MESS HALL + Collecting

Mess Hall: In its "Unfurlings" series, Never The Same activates the archive. Throughout the year NTS has invited a series of groups and individuals to dig into NTS archives and their own personal collections looking for items of interest to share. In this installment, several members of the now-defunct experimental cultural center Mess Hall (including Matthias Regan, Rozalinda Borcila, Lora Lode, and Justin Goh) will share material from its ten year history. For more information on Mess Hall, visit messhall.org and for more information on Unfurlings, visit never-the-same.org/2013-programs.

Collecting: Never The Same (NTS) invites the public to contribute to its expanding archive of ephemera, documenting the past five decades of socially and politically engaged art in Chicago. Over the past year NTS worked with archivist Skyla Hearn to catalog 1,400 items spanning from material from the 1968 Surrealism Exposition to artwork created by former Black Panther Party member Bobby E. Lee.  The invitation to contribute material to the NTS archive (relocating soon to its permanent home in the West Loop) provides an opportunity to become a part of future critical dialogue on community engagement, artists' movements, and creative activation of grassroots and independent archives.  For more information about donating to the NTS archive, please contact La Keisha Leek (lakeishaleek@gmail.com)

Sun, Oct 20, 10am-2pm Hair Braiders Summit:  The "iQuieto Pelo! (Mappy Hair!)” project (Liliana Angulo Cortés with Sydney Stoudmire), the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders, and the United African Organization are organizing this summit on braiding and natural hair styling practices in African-descent communities in the Chicago area. Braiders, natural stylists, and attendees familiar with these traditions will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and technical skills and also invent new styles.  The summit also celebrates the political achievement of the Special License for Braiders in the State of Illinois.


Never The Same (Daniel Tucker and Rebecca Zorach) commissioned five artists, curators and scholars to produce work that activates archival materials related to Chicago’s rich history of politically- and socially-engaged art:  Liliana Angulo Cortés (with Sydney Stoudmire), Jayne Hileman, Faheem Majeed, Dan S. Wang, and Extinct Entities (presenting Brandon Alvendia, Alexandria Eregbu, Tomeka Reid, Baraka de Soleil).  The selected artists work in local, socially engaged, art research and practice and approach Chicago as a site of engagement from a variety of perspectives: as life-long Chicago dwellers, former residents, or newer and temporary residents. Taking inspiration from the Never The Same archive, they extend their investigations using forms such as mapping, archiving, performing, curating, braiding, typesetting, and imagining.

Never The Same is supported by a Mellon Residential Fellowship for Arts Practice & Scholarship at the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago. This exhibition inaugurates the Gray Center's new studio space at The University of Chicago’s historic Midway Studios.

For the exhibition, Dan S. Wang will produce a suite of new letterpress posters announcing imaginary future events that speak to the current and past worlds of Chicago critical art. Liliana Angulo will develop a Chicago chapter of her ongoing “¡Quieto Pelo! (Mappy Hair)” collaborative project on hair practices, traditions and politics in the African Diaspora. This Chicago chapter includes the participation of local natural hair stylist and artist Sydney Stoudmire, and will culminate in a hair-braiding event in the Gray Center gallery on October 20 developed in collaboration with community partners United African Organization and the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders. Jayne Hileman is producing a new three-dimensional map of the south side of Chicago as part of her ongoing engagement with experimental cartography. Faheem Majeed will be developing an autobiographical unfurling of archival materials from the South Side Community Arts Center that utilize his ongoing “Perennial Garden” shelving units inspired by the wood paneling in the Margaret Burroughs Gallery at the South Side Community Art Center SSCAC. Extinct Entities, a curatorial research group, will be commissioning several projects dealing with the legacy of the Affro-Arts Theater based on the Never The Same interview with Kelan Phil Cohran. These commissions will include a poster designed by artist Brandon Alvendia, and a performance event on October 12 with Alexandria Eregbu, Tomeka Reid and Baraka de Soleil. 

A publication will be released in conjunction with the exhibition incorporating material generated by a recent NTS seminar and Culture in Action: Public Art in Chicago Twenty Years Later, a public symposium (to be held on October 5, 2013), which marks the twentieth anniversay of Culture in Action, the seminal public art exhibition curated by early NTS interviewee Mary Jane Jacob.  An exhibition at the Logan Center this fall will feature the collectors group Diasporal Rhythms founded by Patric McCoy, also an NTS interviewee.  This exhibition is part of Chicago Artist Month


Never the Same was founded in 2010 by Daniel Tucker and Rebecca Zorach with support from the Propeller Fund (administered by ThreeWalls and Gallery 400).  Tucker and Zorach conceived of Never The Same after collaborating together for five years on the publication and event series AREA Chicago (areachicago.org). Throughout 2011 and 2012, they focused primarily on conducting oral history interviews with a wide range of artists, curators and collectives ranging from founders of AfriCOBRA and Homocore Chicago to the Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

With the support of the Mellon Fellowship at the Gray Center in 2013, the collaborators are now expanding Never The Same into an educational, curatorial, and archival project. For more info on this year’s activities, visit the Gray Center's NTS project page. NTS is currently setting up offices in the West Loop on Lake Street, which will be open to teachers, curators, artists and researchers of all kinds seeking to utilize the NTS collection. 


Artist Liliana Angulo graduated from the National University, Bogotá, Colombia. In 2010 she received a Fulbright Grant to pursue a Master in Fine Arts at UIC.  In her work she explores intersections of African-descent culture with issues of gender, language, power relations and racial politics. In addition to several solo shows and national expositions in Colombia, she has participated in international exhibitions in Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean. She has developed and collaborated in different collective projects with diverse communities. She has also contributed to design policies related to cultural and artistic practices in social and academic contexts. negricolas.blogspot.com

Jayne Hileman works as a visual artist, carpenter, cultural curator, and as art & design teacher at Saint Xavier University, Chicago. She has been doing mapping projects about Chicago’s South Side since 2005. Curated projects include Ocupados/ Occupations and Tent Cities at Art in These Times, 2013. jaynehileman.com

Faheem Majeed is an artist, curator, and community facilitator.  Majeed blends his unique experience as a non-profit administrator, curator and artist to create works that focus on institutional critique and exhibitions that leverage collaboration to engage his immediate community as well as the broader community in meaningful dialogue. From 2005-2011, Majeed served as Executive Director and Curator for the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC).  In 2012 Majeed served as artist in residence for the University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life Initiative. Currently Majeed is associate director of undergraduate studies and faculty member in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Art & Art History. shacksandshanties.tumblr.com/faheemmajeed

Dan S. Wang is a writer, blogger, and printer living in Madison, Wisconsin. He lived and worked in Chicago from 1997 to 2007 and maintains close relationships with collaborators in the city. prop-press.net

Extinct Entities (Erin Nixon, Anthony Romero and Anthony D. Stepter) is a project that explores the various histories of Chicago-based art spaces and collectives that no longer exist. Erin Nixon is an art writer and curator working in Chicago. She organizes experimental arts programming, self-publishes, and writes about alternative art histories and autonomous creative projects. Anthony Stepter is an organizer and educator based in Chicago. Anthony produces and hosts events designed to create new and interesting modes of engagement around the arts. Anthony Romero is an artist and writer based in Chicago. He has shown and published broadly most notably at Links Hall and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, and through Ugly Duckling Presse. extinctentities.tumblr.com


Mike Schuh, Gray Center Program Coordinator, mikes1@uchicago.edu

Daniel Tucker, Co-Curator, neverthesamechicago@gmail.com