Olive Stefanski: Becoming One Who Holds Many
@ Tiger Strikes Asteroid
2233 S Throop St, Unit 419, Chicago, IL 60608
Opening Sunday, May 7th, from 12PM - 4PM
On view through Saturday, June 10th
Tiger Strikes Asteroid Chicago is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Olive Stefanski that will run May 7 through June 10, 2023. We will celebrate with an opening reception on Sunday, May 7 from 12-4 PM. The exhibition is curated by TSA Chicago member Zehra Khan.
Becoming One Who Holds Many features ten abstract sculptures handwoven with plant reed dyed a deep midnight blue using natural indigo. This body of work takes inspiration from Stefanski’s study of the Jewish mystical text, Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation). Sefer Yetzirah features a mixture of poetry, meditation and magical instructions, and offers wisdom regarding mysticism, cosmology, and the complexities of Jewish understandings of divinity.
The sculptures address the concept of the sefirot, a central motif explored within Sefer Yetzirah’s cosmology. The sefirot are fundamentally paradoxical. They contain multiple meanings; they are mysterious and ineffable. Described in the text as elemental forces of the natural world, such as the six directions of space, time, water, fire and air, the sefirot are integral to the process of creation itself. They are constantly shapeshifting. The sefirot provide the hollow, voided dimensions where possibility and energy flow. Physical yet immaterial, profane and sacred, they number in ten and yet they are infinite.
Stefanski’s vessels mirror flora—they are forged and drawn out of water. Each sculpture is informed by the artist’s drawing practice, textual research, and ongoing exploration of positive and negative space within abstract form. The vessels are objects created through processes of return. They require iterative return(s) to the indigo vat to achieve their depths of blue, and the ongoing interlacement through which each woven structure arrives at its form is itself a form of return. Like Torah, these sculptures too connect with a force that is continually renewed through reinterpretation, a process of creation that will be without end.
The ten sculptures on view are living symbols and parts of a whole within transforming lineages of communal meaning-making in Jewish traditions. They offer a vision of Jewish presence and futurity, of multiplicity within unity, and an invitation to glimpse the web of divine life-giving force present in all of creation. The materials hold multiplicities. They are alive, ancient, and contemporary. They reach for touch and nurture in order to become.
Image credit: Stop Your Heart From Murmuring, Olive Stefanski, reed and indigo dye, 14 x 16 x 19”, 2022.
Olive Stefanski (they/she) is a queer Jewish artist and teacher, currently living on Potawatomi, Odawa, Ojibwe, Miami, Fox, and Illinois land. In 2021, Roman Susan Art Foundation presented a solo exhibition of their handwoven textiles and sculptural vessels entitled And Before One, What Are You Counting? which was chosen as a partner exhibition program by the Chicago Architecture Biennial. They earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015, followed by a three-year apprenticeship at the Chicago Weaving School. In 2022, their work was discussed in States of Mind: Towards an Alternative Future for Jewish Art, an essay written by Solomon Brager for Artforum that highlighted queer, leftist, and anti-Zionist Jewish artists, cultural workers and art movements. They can be found on instagram @floatyplace and www.olivestefanski.com.
Zehra Khan (she/her) is an American and Pakistani multidisciplinary artist and member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid Chicago. She received an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown in 2007. Khan has attended artist residencies including Yaddo, Ox-Bow, Studios of Key West, I-Park, Vermont Studio Center, Art Space Sonahmoo in South Korea, and Space A in Kathmandu. Her current preferred medium is hot glue, and she can be found on instagram @zehrakhanart and www.zehrakhan.com.
Scheduling & Contact Info
The gallery will be open on all Saturdays and Sundays 12-4pm, beginning May 7th and closing June 10th 2023. Questions or requests to schedule appointments outside our normal hours can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The TSA gallery is located on the 4th floor of Mana Contemporary, and it can be reached via an attendant-operated elevator or the stairs. Please contact Mana Contemporary separately in advance of your visit if you will be needing wheelchair access into the building.
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