This exhibition includes recent photography by Helen Maurene Cooper and installation‐based work by Maria Gaspar. Each artist takes a critical and self‐reflexive investigative approach, using urban cultural detritus as material to explore identity, gender and history. Cooper explores the many worlds of nail art in both Chicago and Philadelphia. Her photographs depict friends, colleagues and students wearing acrylic nails, while posing and performing a related identity in front of airbrushed backdrops.
Gaspar’s installations, on the other hand, are comprised of debris often associated with parades, festivals and celebrations that are essential to the lives of Latin American immigrants in the U.S. Her projects are informed by her own identity as a Latina artist and also by her work for the Public Art Group, creating projects in many of Chicago’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Often using the color brown, symbolic of mud, re‐birth and skin, Gaspar’s tactile sculptures burst with celebratory colors that, along with the brown layers, reflect the layered, emotional and temporal unfolding of events.