The Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to present Stay alive, a solo show featuring BOLT Resident, Jeffrey Michael Austin.
Arrayed in a deliberate configuration throughout the center of the space, carefully tended plants dare us to question whether they belong. This space is for them, we see. An assiduous steward has furnished light, water, and humidity to address their needs; such is their authority that it feels likely we’ve wandered in on accident. An initial take on the ostensible “grow operation” commandeering the Chicago Artists Coalition's project space asks, “What else can an exhibition venue be?” A startling alternate to the way a space devoted to the exhibition of art is typically leveraged, Jeffrey Michael Austin’s installation signals a moral dimension -- one that appears to reject art's alignment with luxury commodity and embrace instead a utilitarian, even survivalist functionality.
Stay alive reveals the artistic voice as subsumed to the survivalist imperative: functionality complicated by sly evidence of the artist’s touch. Drawings and words in condensation on mirrors, typically momentary and futile, become permanent through Austin’s deft material manipulation. Regarding ourselves in the misted mirrors, furnished for the amplification of both light and self, in what state do we capture our own reflected images? Hilariously, alarmingly: which do we concern ourselves with more?
This exhibition has been made possible with support from the Luminarts Cultural Foundation.
Jeffrey Michael Austin is an interdisciplinary artist, musician and educator based in Chicago. Through a variety of sculptural and installation processes, Austin composes situations characterized by instability, impermanence and illusion -- inviting from their visitors an urgent sense of empathy, mindfulness and openness to the unknown. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including such venues as the Hyde Park Art Center, Ed Paschke Art Center, Le Carreau de Cergy (Paris), Kunstenfestival Watou (Belgium), The University of North Texas Art Galleries, Lehr Zeitgenössische Kunst (Berlin), The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Fondation Vasarely (Aix-en-Provence), The Mission, The Franklin, Terrain Exhibitions and Manifold, a partner of ACRE Artist Residency. Austin studied at Columbia College Chicago and the Burren College of Art in Ireland before eventually receiving his BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently working as Deputy Director of The Chicago Perch and as one third of Growing Concerns Poetry Collective.