OH! “This blog is about my studio practice?”

I’ve begun my MFA, 30 years after starting my BFA. It’s good to be back at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. We are asked to keep a blog about our studio practice.

What is my studio practice like? Well, it is multi-faceted. That is because I am an artist, AND an activist, AND an art teacher. These practices overlap.

STUDIO XANOI

My studio is really just a spare room in my house.

I am a mother of 4 young adults: Rhiannon, Zoe, Ossian, and Athena. 3 of them live at home (can’t make a living on minimum wage these days). Also living with us is Athena’s boyfriend Jake, and Zoe’s girlfriend Brie. Add 3 cats, 1 giant dog, and a rabbit. We are one big family! At any given time, that may include other people crashing with us. Our house is a bit nuts. So, having this room as my studio is heaven. Zoe and Brie are also artists, so we are often working in the studio together. It’s like having my own commune! (Except I pay most of the bills).

Currently, my work revolves around 2 disciplines:

Collage:

Artworks of cut magazine images. These collages revolve around sci-fi concepts of alien worlds and alternate dimensions. They signify a sense of my own alienation from the outside world and offer a vision of landscapes where I can be free. That freedom may be exciting, soothing, or terrifying depending on the world we are “transported” to. Here are two of the latest to come out of Studio Xanoi:

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Photography/Expanded Cinema:

This body of work is about using physical light and darkness to explore…  light and darkness in conceptual and psychological terms.  The process is digital photography and I am using still images for cinematic projections in installations. Here are some images from the summer Open Studios showing.

All photographs are the sole property of Valerie Xanos

ACTIVISM:

Much of my activism uses art as a vehicle. I do not do this alone, rather I enjoy collaborating with others. This awesome crew of artists included Colin Ewald, Dan Estep, Jessica Rosenbaum, and Devan Picard. As CPS art teachers anticipating a strike, we went kind of crazy building a giant Rahm Emmanuel puppet and printing T-shirts. If you know anything about Chicago, you know that our mayor is embattled on many fronts. His privatization and sabotage of Chicago Public Schools is re-knowned. Now that the strike is most likely averted, we need to figure out what to do with our amazing puppet. We figure that Rahm’s controversial actions won’t change too much. There is still the ongoing Laquan MacDonald situation (cover up of city-sanctioned murder and such).

Stay tuned for some street performance action in the near future. (Note: The T-shirt design is not mine, artist is Dan Estep)

ART TEACHING

I teach an art class at Curie Metro H.S. on the Southwest Side of Chicago. This course is designed to give artistic autonomy to the students. The Guerrilla Art class is run as a collective. Instead of being the “teacher” that gives assignments, I am part of the collective. I act as facilitator, artist, and instructor depending on how I am needed. So, in this case, my artist’s practice very much overlaps my teaching practice. My own processes and interests as an artist influence our collective work. Some of you will recognize artists we encountered during our summer LRMFA residency on the collective’s list of inspiring research. Current work revolves around social justice issues and the use of text and space in the delivery of visual works. We have a special partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art called S.P.A.C.E.  In that partnership, I work with an artist in residence whose studio is embedded in our school. Andres Hernandez is an amazing artist who has had tremendous impact already.

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We keep a blog of our work and process, so I’ll just leave this here:

Guerrilla Art Collective Blog

Follow us on Twitter @Curie_GAC

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