Spudnik Press plants ‘Roots’ in divided terrain
Yassaman Mossavi’s current show at Spudnik Press, “Roots,” loads meaningful personal weight on a simple title. Her exploration could be thought of as a tree whose roots grow through a nearby sidewalk, a natural space entangled with the synthetics of culture. Print is where the two meet.
“For Moussavi, etching is a dance of covering and uncovering, building and destroying whatever she imagines onto her copper plates,” read the curatorial notes for the show. “In this sense, printmaking bridges her inner and external worlds. Moussavi also crafts an intimate relationship between her medium of choice and the visual message she wants to communicate by making her own paper.”
Born in Tehran, Iran, and educated between her home country and Texas, Moussavi is well aware of political divisiveness and the violent language that comes with it. In resistance, she “dreams of growing roots and connecting with the self, nature, and people.” It’s a firm reminder that these roots aren’t just a matter of where we come from but also an omen of what comes next. Through April 21, The Annex at Spudnik Press, 1821 W. Hubbard St., Suite 302; www.spudnikpress.org
NMMA connects dots between immigration, labor movements and art
Of the more than 200 buildings constructed for the World’s Fair in 1893, only two still stand in place: the Palace of Fine Arts, aka the Museum of Science and Industry, and the World’s Congress Building, which is now the Art Institute. Something even more influential to come out of this era was an influx of immigration, with the city’s first Mexican neighborhood forming in the early 20th century near the steel mills and rail yards of South Chicago. This moment is the loose starting point of “Arte Diseno Xicago,” an exhibition hosted by the National Museum of Mexican Art as part of Art Design Chicago.
Traversing through decades of artwork, photographs and objects, the show highlights the early artistic involvement and influence of Mexican immigrants and artists in Chicago, beginning with the Columbian Exposition and expanding into the Civil Rights Era of the 1970s.
As the curatorial notes point out, emerging railroads of the late 19th century created a connection between the border and the industrial Midwest, with Chicago’s reputation for successful labor organizing attracting artists and workers alike. The show’s roster speaks to the endurance of this politically-charged history: Margaret Burroughs, Carlos Merida, Diego Rivera and Maria Varela are among those curated by Cesareo Moreno in this show. The rich array of media does away with the single-story narrative that often comes with portrayals of immigration, and instead hoists up the evolving alchemy between medium, location and identity.
On wider scale, Art Design Chicago has pulled together more than 60 cultural organizations for a year-long initiative that also includes public programming and scholarship. They aim to showcase the role of immigrant communities, frequently overlooked in historical discussions of influence, in Chicago’s creative development, and how Chicagoans’ social and political activism served as a driving force in breakthroughs in art and design. Through August 19, National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St; nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org