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May 4, 2006 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
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The Space Between: Graduating student artists premier their work

Tiny models of cities that exist only in dreams, a town crier who reports the news by memory and sculptures that document the sense of division a Mexican-born artist feels living in America; the graduating MFA students in the University of Chicago’s Department of Visual Art use their own artistic language to comment on their lives and the world around them. The result is a thought-provoking exhibition entitled, “The Space Between,” which opens Thursday, June 8 with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on the mezzanine level of the Del Prado Building (the former home of the Hyde Park Art Center), 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. The free exhibition will remain open from noon to 6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays until Sunday, June 18.

The eight-person exhibition displays a diverse array of talent and media, including photography, performance art, painting, drawing and sculpture. Students in the show have completed an intensive 18-course, two-year program in which they not only examine their own artistic skill and language, but also investigate the social and economic aspects of contemporary artistic practice, as well as its theoretical, critical and art-historical contexts.

“‘The Space Between’ represents the conceptual terrain that is negotiated in diverse ways by these artists as well as the transitional moment for these artists from student to professional,” said exhibit curator and University of Chicago Art History doctoral student Dawna Schuld.

As curator, Schuld also works in “the space between,” mediating between the artists, the space and the audience, as well as the middle ground between Art History and the Department of Visual Arts.

The exhibition is co-curated Stephanie Smith, curator at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art. “The Space Between” is produced with support of the University of Chicago Visiting Committee on the Visual Arts, the Division of the Humanities and the Smart Museum of Art. More information is available on the web at

About the artists:

Sara Black engages a solo performance-based practice and also works as a member of the artist group Material Exchange. Her work examines the site of value production and considers the way materials move through existing social structures.

For Mexican artist David Hernandez Casas, practicing art is an opportunity to negotiate difference within a culture that perceives difference as a suspicious place to inhabit. The mechanism of the gaze, cultural filters, the construction of reality, the sources of prejudice and their relationship with language are some of the multiple thoughts that cross his mind when he works.

Joseph Cory’s drawings are a visual record of the connections he observes between images in his immediate surroundings. Absurdity, humor, irony and tragedy flavor his odd little worlds that track his labors to articulate fresh metaphors for the world in which we live.

Even when we’re not telling stories, there is a story to tell. We tell stories as we move through the world and try to make meaning out of the forms and patterns we find along the way, taking comfort when we’re able to make connections and find signs or symbols. Rachel Herman’s photography practice takes these everyday forms, signs and scenes and makes them slightly unfamiliar, turns them askew and makes new stories out of them.

Working in photography, sculpture and video, Maria Perkovic explores the instability of self-reflection through the lens of travel, cultural pluralism and the physical environment.

Working from a confrontation with uncertainty, Mark Rospenda allows distortions and accidents to guide his work. When he realizes what he sees, he stops to take note, but does not struggle to clarify what he’s doing. What results are glimpses of an inner world that hold themselves in a rickety balance between the ambiguous and the concrete, a reflection of an inner condition of the mind as we simultaneously perceive, build upon and reconfigure the world around us.

Grant Schexnider’s paintings draw from pornography, using this visual genre as symbol and metaphor for ordinary, daily human interaction — even elevating it to myth. He juxtaposes the genres of pornography and art history, exposing their similarities.

Jessi Shapiro’s recent drawings and paintings are the result of an intuitively driven process working with organic forms within an architectural structure so as to achieve a unique visual code. The resulting patterns and imaginary environments are indecipherable in any “literal” sense, but the viewer is encouraged to engage with the composition on a more abstract level of mass, color, space, weight and levity.
Last modified at 01:01 PM CST on Thursday, May 04, 2006.

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