Apr 30th 2022

Rachel de Cuba & Hale Ekinci: When or if I was there

@ Tiger Strikes Asteroid

2233 S Throop St, #419, Chicago, IL 60608

Opening Saturday, April 30th, from 12PM - 4PM

On view through Saturday, June 11th

Tiger Strikes Asteroid is pleased to present When or if I was there, an exhibition featuring the work of artists Rachel de Cuba and Hale Ekinci. Making use of both found textiles and digital family archives, de Cuba and Ekinci address identity as well as cultural and family histories through storytelling. These narratives are both personal and ambiguous as they blend factual realities with communal gossip, encouraging the viewer to consider how we document and record often obscured and codified material pasts.

Rachel de Cuba’s use of American quilting and natural dyeing techniques—which rely on foods like walnuts and avocado, each native to her two ancestral homelands—produce flexible skins of cultural hybridity that represent deeply embedded structures, borders, and social apparatuses. Her focus on familial migration, which is often accompanied by the passing of stories through oral tradition, creates moments in which memory and historicity conflate. The result is a body of work perched on the perpetual edge of both clarity and uncertainty.

Hale Ekinci incorporates stitching, archival photographs, and textiles in artworks that probe cultural perceptions of the familial and social complications of transnational identity. Ekinci focuses on domestic labor, textile work, and embroidery, using the Turkish tradition of oya (lace edging) to facilitate the expression of her own personal sentiments through coded and symbolic messages that might otherwise remain socially segregated and private. Her photo-fiber collages and video work use metaphor to imply that cultural, educational, economic, linguistic, and religious differences are testaments to the conundrums of immigrant self-actualization and assimilation, as well as to the way in which “fitting in” can be an impossible feat.

Artist Bios:
Rachel de Cuba is an interdisciplinary artist and curator raised in Sebastian, FL. She received her BFA in Studio Art at Flagler College in 2013 and her MFA in Digital Art at Indiana University in 2019. de Cuba’s work focuses on familial narratives of migration and explores surrealist approaches to storytelling through multimedia assemblages. She currently lives and works in Anderson, South Carolina.

Hale Ekinci is a Turkish multidisciplinary artist, designer, and educator based in Chicago. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media at Columbia College Chicago and is currently an Associate Professor of Art & Design at North Central College. Incorporating a variety of mediums from video to embroidery paintings embellished with vibrant colors, patterns, and autobiographical relics, her work explores personal histories, cultural identity, gender politics, and craft traditions.

This exhibition is curated by Noah Hanna and Jaclyn Jacunski.
Noah Hanna is a Chicago-based curator and writer. His research interests are focused on transnational identity, visibility, geopolitical displacement, human rights, as well as alternative art practices and institutional critique. Past and upcoming curatorial projects include the second iteration of Artist-Run Chicago, co-curated with Allison Peters Quinn (Hyde Park Art Center), When or if I was there (Tiger Strikes Asteroid), The Land Between the Sea (ENGAGE Projects), a 2023 exhibition with artist Huong Ngô, and a research project with artist Shabtai Pinchevsky. He has contributed writing to ArtAsiaPacific, ART PAPERS, MAP (Glasgow), Newcity, and The SEEN: Chicago’s International Journal of Contemporary and Modern Art. He holds a Master’s Degree in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Curating, and Criticism from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Jaclyn Jacunski is a TSA-Chicago member and interdisciplinary artist who exhibits both locally and nationally. Her practice stems from involvement in social and political causes and the search to find understanding in political controversies that surround the land and community acts of resistance. Jacunski was a BOLT artist-in-residence at the Chicago Artists Coalition, and she has exhibited at the Institutes of Contemporary Art in both Portland and Baltimore. Her work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and Hyperallergic.

Image credit: Hale Ekinci, The Gün (a.k.a. Gold Day), 2018, Digital video

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