In my three days in Chicago, I saw a lot and went all over the city (and beyond). The eight artists I met with all work in different areas (some not even in Chicago), so there was a good amount of travel time and the whole experience was a whirlwind. I arrived in Chicago on Thursday, March 22 and immediately had a meeting with Rashayla Marie Brown. Brown was headed out of Chicago and doesn’t currently have a traditional studio in the city, so we met at a café at SAIC. We talked through some of the images on her website and projects that she’s working on right now. Brown also shared information about her most current project where she’ll be based in Atlanta and what she hopes to accomplish with it. It’s an intriguing project that I hope comes to fruition.

On Friday, Mach 23 my day started with a visit with Bernard Williams in his studio. Williams had some of his Bumper Sculptures displayed in his studio. We talked through some of his Car Sculptures and a few of his past public projects. His studio is also filled with his paintings, including his painting library project which we discussed briefly at the end of our visit. We spent a lot of time talking about a few upcoming public projects that Williams has on the books. Williams is working on a few projects for different neighborhoods in Chicago; extremely large-scale projects. I’m excited to see how these projects develop and if they lead to further outdoor commissions for Williams. My next Friday visit was with Joseph Grigley. Grigley was just arriving back in town after a trip and he shared information about his travels and we looked at images from a recent gallery exhibition as well as images of his White Noise project. Grigley also shared information about his Black Noise project and how he would like to see both White Noise and Black Noise eventually displayed together. After the visit with Grigley, I met with Ian Weaver. Weaver, who is currently based in South Bend, Indiana, came into Chicago so we could meet. Weaver and I talked about his interdisciplinary practice and much of our conversation centered on his Black Knights project. We also discussed the residency that Weaver will participate in this summer. My last meeting on Friday was with Arnold Kemp. Out of all the artists I met with during my time in Chicago, I know Kemp’s work the best as we overlapped in New York City and his work in the collection of The Studio Museum in Harlem (where I used to work). It was nice to have a chance to catch up and hear about how his time has been since moving to Chicago and taking the position of dean of graduate studies and professor in the department of Painting and Drawing. We also talked about a few recent and upcoming projects as well as ideas that are emerging. On Friday evening, I was able to attend a talk at the MCA Chicago between Naomi Beckwith and Hamza Walker around the MCA’s current exhibition, Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen. It was a nice added bonus of the weekend.

My first studio visit on Saturday, March 24 was with Claire Pentecost. Pentecost has a studio at Mana Contemporary so we talked a bit about the space in addition to her upcoming project. Right now, Pentecost is focused on her upcoming exhibition, The Persistence of the Unsorted opening at the Garfield Park Conservatory on April 26. Pentecost is a 2017-2018 artist in residence at the Garfield Park Conservatory. I saw some of the works in progress and we talked about how it was all going to come together. My next visit was with Juan Angel Chavez. Chavez and I talked about some of his past installations. His studio is filled with the models from many of his projects, so although the large-scale versions no longer exist, I could see a version of the works in addition to images. We talked a lot about outdoor installations, permanence and some of the limits and freedoms that can exist when working outdoors. My last visit of the weekend was in Evanston, IL with Anne Wilson. Wilson gave me some background on a few past projects, but the majority of our conversation was around a new body of work that she’s thinking through right now. We talked about a few of her past performances and video works as well. We talked about the materials she uses in her works and her experience at SAIC with the Fiber and Material Studies program.

All in all, I really appreciated the opportunity to take part in Artadia’s Art & Dialogue. The artists I met with during the studio visits were all fantastic and really engaged in the process and they all shared a lot. With all the visits I did, I was interesting in understanding if the artists had dream projects that they hadn’t yet realized. For all of the artists, the answer was yes, but they were all working towards those dream projects. The talk at SAIC was also a highlight. The audience (mostly SAIC students) were extremely engaged and had really great questions. After the lecture, a few students expressed how much they would like to have a diverse group of curators and scholars give talks and engage with them. I feel like SAIC would be a great long-term partner for Artadia’s Art & Dialogue program in Chicago as Artadia manages to engage with diverse voices in a strong way. I look forward to hearing more from and about the artists I met with during my visits.

Lauren Haynes is Curator, Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Prior to joining Crystal Bridges in October 2016, Haynes was Associate Curator, Permanent Collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem where she worked for close to a decade. Haynes is co-curator of the upcoming exhibition, The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art opening at Crystal Bridges in May 2018. Haynes has authored and co-authored several catalogues such as Alma Thomas, The Bearden Project, Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet and Contemporary Art and Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange. She has also lectured at venues around the United States including The Whitney Museum of American Art, Deutsche Bank and Texas State University, San Marcos. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators and serves on the Nomination and Governance Committee. Haynes is a recipient of a 2016 Gold Rush Award from Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.