Chicago Artists Coalition proudly presents Boondoggle featuring HATCH Projects artists, Andrew Barco, Jeff Prokash, and Gülşah Mursaloğlu.
During the Great Depression, many New Deal programs focused on putting unemployed artists and craftspeople to work, and providing government funding for public, archival, and educational projects. One such program focused on teaching simple crafts to children by which they could produce small tchotchkes to sell and raise money for their families. A typical craft was the tying of decorative, colored leather and canvas called “boondoggles” that didn't serve any purpose beyond aesthetic novelty and a sense of accomplishment in a time of extreme malaise. Like any social program, the idea came under fire from the political right who, unsurprisingly, saw it as wasting money in order to promote wasting time. The term boondoggle became immediately metaphorical for a large expenditure of effort and resources for a foolishly useless end, and that is how we use the word today.
This exhibition aims at reclaiming the word. The act of tying boondoggles was simultaneously a socially conscious and creative endeavor, and, as artists, we know better than to regard that as a waste of time. More and more, this stance becomes a critical political contention in an ideological return, where arts and social programs are first on the chopping block (right along with protections for transgender students and our environment). In this exhibition, Barco, Prokash, and Mursaloğlu create idiosyncratic problems just to solve them, needing no justification other than intellectual and emotional pursuit. The artists weave together complex meanings out of a self-imposed tangle of traditional, found, and archival materials. The improvised convolution of their installations is the very source of their ethos. Like a boondoggle, the means are their own ends.
Boondoggle is curated by Danny Floyd.
There will be a durational performance by Andrew Barco that occurs during the opening reception on Friday, April 28, from 6:00 - 9:30 pm, and Wednesday, May 17, from 6:00 - 7:30 pm. Additionally, on the evening of May 17th, the exhibiting artists Gülşah Mursaloğlu and Jeff Prokash will discuss their work in Boondoggle.
Andrew Barco is an object, installation and performance maker based in Chicago, Illinois. His work is concerned with the often strange and improbable ways ideas and habits can be transmitted across cultural landscapes and through time. With an MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Andrew’s work uses craft and industrial histories, quirky and edgy relational gestures, and philosophical inquiry to create affective and thoughtful encounters. His work has been featured in group exhibitions in Durham NC, Baltimore MD, Hartford, CT, and Chicago, IL, New Orleans, LA.
Gülşah Mursaloğlu begins her works with the experience of distance: smelling a thing inches away from her nose and then understanding it from afar with her eyes. In her installations, she works intimately with materials and objects and embeds them within precarious systems that monumentalize them, giving them responsibility. Though this new context may give the materials and objects new aspirations, it does not rewrite their humble origins. Rather, viewing her work presents an opportunity to travel over these distances: from insignificant to astounding, from a child’s play to an adult’s observation, from near to far, from the kitchen to the monument. She earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her BA in Sociology from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.
Jeff Prokash embraces the freedom of reinterpretation to suggest new relationships between the subject and the staging of the built environment. Objects are positioned to present intrinsic systems of organization, interpolating unexpected associations through the production of subjective narratives. Prokash produces a reconsidered relationship with the material world and a reorientation of the value systems that are implicated in the construction and reconstruction of the built environment.
Jeff Prokash is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and educator in Chicago, IL. He received his MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his BFA from University of Wisconsin Madison. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2015 and has received awards and fellowships including the Eldon Danhausen and Edward L. Ryerson Fellowships and the International Sculpture Center Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. He currently teaches in the Sculpture department at SAIC.
Danny Floyd a curator, artist, researcher, and educator based out of Chicago. He holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, an MA in Visual and Critical Studies, and an MFA in Sculpture both from School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). His written and studio work deals with the social aspects of perceptual realms like weather, music, architecture, and mediated cultures. Danny currently teaches in the Visual and Critical Studies Department at SAIC. He is a founding member of Ballroom Projects, an artist-run initiative on Chicago's South Side, and a regular contributor to Serpentine Magazine.