‘Amid Kinship,’ culminating exhibition of U. of C. artists-in-residence, is open through end of August

Brandon Breaux poses with his oil painting “Mirrors.” (Photo by Aaron Gettinger)

Staff writer

The University of Chicago Arts + Public Life and Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture artists-in-residence have been hard at work at the Washington Park Arts Block since the Herald profiled them last winter. Their culminating exhibition, “Amid Kinship,” opened on July 26, and Brandon Breaux and Amina Ross talked with the Herald about their where their practices have taken them.

Breaux was happy to have 10 months to create work and spend more time in the studio. “I’m still really searching in my work,” he said, adding that he had made much of the program’s civic engagement component and, having earned broad exposure from having drawn Chance the Rapper’s album art.

“In the process of creating work, I’m aways experimenting, I’m always expanding,” he said. “And there are a lot of things that I’ve done that I revisit, and I realize want to keep them with me.”

While in residence, Breaux kept exploring elements of the South Side’s vernacular. “I worked basically on finishing whatever I started during this residency and beginning new things.” He’s thinking about pursuing a master’s degree and is interested in incorporating more portraiture and performance into his art.”

Amina Ross and writer Cherlnell Lane pose with “Fountain Body 1 (Catharsis),” a 3D animation piece set in a window. (Photo by Aaron Gettinger)

The interactive newsstand he detailed in a January interview remains unbuilt, though he plans a “Meditation on Time” at the Invisible Space in Chatham, 8550 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

Breaux’s painting “Mirrors” “explores personal identity and narrative around the self,” he said, hence the name. “Working with that language and also speaking about the exotic, bringing these exotic plants and exotic things. They’re different, and putting light and putting focus on them, elevating those aspects of identity, those elements of life experience, from my perspective on the South Side.”

Last December, Ross discussed plans to have students keep dream journals and analyze them together. Over the year, Ross convened collectively-led, hours-long “dream circles” with Washington Park writer Cherlnell Lane, who led a workshop on “dreaming while awake,” complete with instructions written as a recipe.

“If you can dream anything that you want to dream that isn’t materialistic, what would it be?” Lane asked. “I like recipes better, because they not only tell you how to get to the finished product, but they also tell you what you need to get to the finished product.”

Around a dozen people came to each workshop at the Arts Incubator, each with their own exercise to try out. Ross said the dream circles were a good way to rethink how to plan life. “I think so much of the ways that popular notions of self-help are like, ‘Here’s your goal. Find your target. Go get it.’ It’s almost like a singular vision.” Goal-mapping-as-recipes led Ross to think of what she needed to achieve goals, “knowing that recipes are flexible,” and they created a zine to document the dream circles.

Artist-in-residence Jarvis Boyland’s portraits are also on display.

“Amid Kinship” is on at the Arts Incubator Gallery, 301 E. Garfield Blvd., through Aug. 30. Applications closed for the next artists-in-residence cohort on July 28; the next program focusing on themes relevant to South Siders, race, ethnicity and community engagement begins on Nov. 4.