The Ground Between Us
Opening Friday 3/3, 7-11PM
On view March 3 – April 16
Artists: Mack Baker, Isabella Mellado, Lauren Oberlin, Serena JV Eston
There is an element to queerness that is intangible because, similarly to camp, once it is named or defined, it ceases to exist. In the history of reclaiming the term queer, it has always been associated with opposition to oppressive systemic powers. This work exists in an effort to combat the increasing hegemony surrounding queer identities and to recognize the power of alternative spaces and the way we have created them for ourselves. Together, Mack Baker, Serena JV Elston, Lauren Oberlin and Isabella Mellado explore what it means to create work in spaces that are considered ‘othered’ by heteronormative patriarchal society; the drag bars, underground raves, punk shows, etc. All of these spaces represent the political impact of queerness, beyond that of a solely sexual identity.
The work itself is about the way queer bodies occupy these spaces and the effect of those spaces on the body. On the walls of the gallery are portraits, shot by Baker, Mellado, and Oberlin, each with a unique approach to representing queerness. Baker’s ceramics sculptures anchor the satin framed portraits of queer people from their community both here in Chicago and abroad. Mellado approaches photography from a painter’s perspective, capturing her loved ones with the intention to ultimately paint their portraits. Baker’s queer portraits framed by satin accompany Mellado’s documentation of her queer community. Oberlin will be showing a portion of their ongoing photography series, some of which was made in collaboration with Mellado, which re-imagines archetypes from the tarot. Each card is transformed through a modern queer lens and the spectacle-inducing process of shooting in public spaces. These works are brought together by Elston’s corporeal sculptures; cast queer bodies in myceliated soil. Given the ideal conditions for growth, the mushroom grows strong holding itself and all its substrate together giving form. This growth is analogous to the experience of being queer in queer spaces and having the ideal environment to grow and mature into one’s body and identity. The web of mycelium is analogous to community and how it shapes our bodies–it provides a queer lexicon.
This show transforms the representational to the abstract over the life cycle of the sculptures as they become sexually mature. The gallery itself then will become a space of transformation, one which is life-giving and breaks down traditional ways of representing queer bodies offering new sculptural storytelling