Big Chick's Photography Collection

Our friend and favorite collector/patron, Michelle Fire, joined others in conveying the glories of her life collecting photography.

Collecting Seminar: Live with Art
Milwaukee Art Museum
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Tom Gitterman of Gitterman Gallery in New York presented amazing photographs and addressed all topics related to building a photography collection. After lunch, Lisa Hostetler  moderated a panel discussion with Tom Gitterman, Michelle Fire of Big Chicks, and Milwaukee Collector,  Dr. Tony Krausen.

Images from Michelle's Big Chicks and her home.


Immortalized - Women & Leadership Archive

Thanks to B's efforts, we join many other artists in the Loyola University Libraries' Digital Special Collections.
Our work is housed in the Women & Leadership Archives which collects, preserves, organizes, describes, and makes available materials of enduring value to researchers studying women's leadership activities. The WLA strives to promote knowledge and understanding of women’s many diverse and important contributions to society through active collection development, research, and the facilitation of learning about women’s history. The Women & Leadership Archives functions as a public facility in addition to serving the Loyola University Chicago community.
A sampling of our documentation may be found in

Chicago has been home to many female artists for  years, each with her own unique career, point of view, politics, and form of expression. Whether teaching, creating art for public spaces, or making a social commentary, these women have all made contributions to Chicago’s dynamic art community. The Chicago Women Artists online exhibit provides a sampling of several women artists’ collections that have been recently acquired by the Women and Leadership Archives. The exhibit includes a variety of materials that provide an overview of ten artist’s careers: artwork, exhibition catalogs, press coverage, correspondence, photographs, resumes, artists’ statements and other unique documents. The ten featured collections include those of Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman Mary-Ellen Croteau, Kathryn Kucera, Margot McMahon, Jacqueline Moses, Lindsay Obermyer, Eileen Ryan, Susan Sensemann, SisterSerpents Artist Collective, and Mary Tobin.

This exhibit is intended to be a sampling of the WLA’s holdings related to Chicago Women Artists. We also have collections related to the following Chicago women artists: Barbara Blades, Barbara Cooper, Nichole Ferentz, Karen Hanmer, Linda Lewis Kramer, Margaret Lantermann, Silvia Malagrino, Olivia Petrides, Nancy Plotkin, Fern Shaffer, Michelle Stone, Maureen Warren and Toby Zallman. Please contact the archives at wlarchives@luc.edu for more information.


Transformation of the Body - Ovid Would Approve

The Infinity Burial Project proposes alternatives for the postmortem body that promote and facilitate an individual engagement with the process of decomposition.  The Project features the development of a unique strain of mushroom that decomposes and remediates toxins in human tissue, the development of a decomposition ‘kit’, burial suits embedded with decomposition activators, and a membership society devoted to the promotion of death awareness and acceptance and the practice of decompiculture (the cultivation of decomposing organisms).  Founded and directed by Jae Rhim Lee, the Infinity Burial Project is funded by the Creative Capital Foundation, the Institüt für Raumexperimente/Universität der Künste Berlin, and the MAK Center for Art + Architecture.


Documentation and Representation of the Body

After taking two weeks of healing scar photos, I'm comforted by some of James Elkins' thoughts on the representations of the body in art...

In the largest context of photography and disability and time passing, I  embrace....

What Photography Is -- a response to and inquiry of Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida. Elkins' argues that photography is not about representation, memory and meaning, instead he suggestion that photography informs us about how we see and what we see when we look at a photograph. "….photography is also about meaninglessness--its apparently endless capacity to show us things that we do not want or need to see--and about pain, because extremely powerful images can sear permanently into our consciousness." 


Research - Eye to Eye

After seeing our installation at the Portrait Society show, Debra Brehmer mentioned that there is a long history of eye portraiture:
Eye portraits are considered to have their genesis in the late 18th Century when the Prince of Wales (to become George IV ) wanted to exchange a token of love with the Catholic widow (of Edward Weld who died 3 months into the marriage) Maria Fitzherbert . The court denounced the romance as unacceptable, though a court miniaturist developed the idea of painting the eye and the surrounding facial region as a way of keeping anonymity. The pair were married on December 15, 1785, but this was considered invalid by the Royal Marriages Act because it had not been approved by George III, but Fitzherbert’s Catholic persuasion would have tainted any chance of approval. Maria’s eye portrait was worn by George under his lapel in a locket as a memento of her love. This was the catalyst that began the popularity of lover’s eyes. From its inception, the very nature of wearing the eye is a personal one and a statement of love by the wearer. Not having marks of identification, the wearer and the piece are intrinsically linked, rather than a jewellery item which can exist without the necessity of the wearer.
-- from The Art of Mourning Blog

Elegant Examples from Wonderwall blog
Additional eye portraits for sale:

We wish we could find better frames than the goofy and cheap Chinese shit used for the exhibition.....we can!!!

New Work - Every Day - Eye To Eye

Every Day
December 2 - January 14,2012

Debra Brehmer gave us a delightful opportunity to create new work, consider our collaboration and look at another part of our changing bodies.

For the exhibition, Every Day,  thirteen artists/photographers were invited to shoot images during a single day of their lives. The intention was to escape intent, packaging and ambitions and seek out the mundane. Each artist has been given a two-foot wide by 10-foot high space to present the project. This exhibition also loosely addresses the issues that Giotto brought to image making in the 1400's as he re-staged religious stories down on earth, within real-life settings (rather than against gold-leaf backgrounds in the netherlands of a spiritual world). 

Our collaboration does not involve shooting without intent, so, to legitimize our participation, we tweaked Debra's criteria to address what we do every day that we work together…and that is to make sure we see Eye to Eye on every aspect of our project.

This work was created  on 4 November 2011, at 30,000 feet on the Airtran flight from NYC to Milwaukee.

The Invention of Middle Age

Podcasts from Slate.com have been entertaining in these dark, immobile days. New York Times reporter, Patricia Cohen, was recently interviewed about her new book,  In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age.  It is a social history of midlife touching on biology, psychology and culture. The conversation was wide ranging and she sets the stage for our consideration of Ovid's "songs of transformation" addressed in All Things are Always Changing.

Other articles from Cohen's New York Times oeuvre  address midlife:
For all things flow; all things are born to change their shapes, and time itself is a river, flowing on an endless course.

meditations on Venus
Part I: Meditations on Venus,   All Things Are Always Changing      2005-2010


30 Years - The Dinner Party Project in Chicago

The graphic design for the 1981 exhibition of the Dinner Party Project in Chicago was Barbara's post-graduate magnum opus. It was life-transforming for all those who where were involved. We honor all of our mentors and now bear witness to the wonderful community that was formed and that has endured over the past 30 years. Thanks for the website, Barb! In 2007, Chicago's sculptural installation was placed on permanent exhibition in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in the Brooklyn Museum.

Embracing the Change

The blog for those  with Advanced Style even if we are "invisible."  The longer you look at these, however, you wonder if things have changed at all -- there have always been idiosyncratic fashionistas. What would Cindy Sherman think?

The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists

It seems Surrealist women artists had to put in about two decades of Muse work, before they had the time and space to really start cranking out their own work. Unburdened by defining the movement, they could work, live, breath and define themselves  surreal in the post-war years. Two opportunities:
In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women artists in Mexico and the United States
Los Angeles County Museum of Art 
Resnick Pavilion   January 29, 2012–May 6, 2012
and the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico
"While their male counterparts usually cast women as objects for their delectation, female Surrealists delved into their own subconscious and dreams, creating extraordinary visual images. Their art was primarily about identity: portraits, double portraits, self referential images, and masquerades that demonstrate their trials and pleasures."

 Remedios Varo - Muerta_Rescusitando, 1963

 Remedios Varo, Troubador, 1959
Art Institute of Chicago
February 25- June 3, 2012
"Born Lucy Schwob to a family of French intellectuals and writers, Claude Cahun is best known for the staged self-portraiture, photomontages, and prose texts she made principally between 1920 and 1940. Rediscovered in the late 1980s, her work has not only expanded our understanding of the Surrealist era but also serves as an important touchstone to later feminist explorations of gender and identity politics."

Claude Cahun, Aveux Non Avenus, PL. I, 1929/1930

Claude Cahun, Self-Portrait, l927

A Table of Contents - Dorthea Tanning

Current favorites  from Dorthea Tanning's first book of poems, A Table of Contents, published in 2004. 

He told us, with the years, you will come
To love the world.
And we sat there with our souls in our laps,
And comforted them.


Blackwidow and bluedaughter will precede a bronze fortune. Wait ninety-one dawns.

Try aulic apples and eco-similies when up a tree. On the next moon's round you will hear a new note.

A fixed star burns the edges of frayed identity. Look underground for knockout denouement.

Swarming doubt surrounds your final forfeit. Your aura is now in orbit. Wear its disguise.

Learn the Erynnian language of thorns. Make a pact with chaos. From then on you won't care.

The faces in the mirror have learned to talk. If you listen they will slash your past ignite your future.

In ten days your eyes will see a glaive. Take it as a sign of promise. Your beauty will explode.

Mix wine with semen and ectoplasm. Throw it out. You shall be richly rewarded.

Wild rapture spins over your personal landscape.  Do not hold your breath in the fire. This sign is bliss.

Entrance to Hell demands grit. After nine days in the ashes you will be walking on air.

Go mad and and you will not become truly insane. Tomorrow you will be chosen.


you ride the night machine
witlessly in bedlam,
breathing on my scree,
my panting outdoor movie,
its paid admission being
my square root,
my flashbulb
socket-pinned and joyless.

Insomnia, my cousin,
you have sired nightly
indecent vertigo.
I lie haggard as you drag
your insane engine past 
across the floor,
slamming doors
on all my four dimensions,

leaving me high day
to shred the clotted dream.
Cousin, I repeatedly
betray you with its debris.

Those Who Understand the Myth, Dorthea Tanning August 25, 1910 – January 31, 2012

...There was a muddy center before we breathed.
There was a myth before the myth began,
Venerable and articulate and complete.

 After holiday gifting her second anthology of poems, Coming to That (Graywolf Press, 2011), we are sad that Dorothea Tanning died at her home in New York City on January 31, 2012.  She was 101 years old. Aunt Anna Cordelia was the same age and studied at the SAIC as well. Did their paths ever cross?  Well, at least in my life's history.

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College before studying painting in Chicago. In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona.
Birthday, 1947 
Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out. By 1956 Max and Dorothea moved to France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included an intense five‐year adventure in soft sculpture.
Reclining Nude, l969-70
Max Ernst died on April 1, 1976. “Go home,” said the paint tubes, the canvases, the brushes. Returning to the United States in the late 1970s, she gave full rein to her long felt compulsion to write as well as paint. Her poems have since appeared in a number of literary reviews and magazines, such as The Yale ReviewPoetryThe Paris ReviewThe New YorkerThe Boston ReviewThe Southwest ReviewParnassus, and in Best Poems of 2002 and 2005. Her published works include two memoirs, Birthday and Between Lives, a collection of poems, A Table of Content, and a novel, Chasm.