The Research and Development Lab (RaD Lab) program is a mentored approach to the Outside the Walls program—an artistic exhibition installation that lives in one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. In RaD Lab, the artists spend a year researching, developing and testing their project for Outside the Walls. Over this time, each artist/artist collective will present their idea to their communities/neighbors, stakeholders, and interested publics. This engagement with neighbors is an invitation into the artistic process and an opportunity for artists, and Threewalls, to listen to residents who will live with the art work for 3 months. This is also a time for building relationships, identifying or confirming location, securing permission, and design programs to support the exhibition installation.
Artists selected for this program have a collaborative and generous spirit in addition to a steady studio practice. They are completely open to including lay persons into their artistic and creative process and to developing relationships with various stakeholders.
There are three important outcomes for RaD Lab: one-on-one artist support; building community excitement for the exhibition through intentional engagement; and a deeper connection to the Chicago community, thus expanding support for the arts and Threewalls’ ecosystem.
The 2017 RaD Lab artists are:
Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist negotiating the politics of location and geography through installation, sculpture, sound, and performance. Gaspar is the founder of large-scale art projects City As Site (2010), and The 96 Acres Project(2012-Present), which examines the impact of incarceration through artistic interventions at the Cook County Jail located in her native community in Chicago. Gaspar’s work has been featured at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY; Artspace, New Haven, CT; African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; and the Alpineum Produzentengalerie in Luzern, Switzerland. Gaspar is the recipient of a Creative Capital Award, a Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist As Activist Fellowship, and a Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award in Art and Activism from the National Museum of Mexican Art. She recently completed a residency at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX. She is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Photo Credit: Nuova Photo
Balas and Wax
Balas & Wax is the ongoing collaborative art practice of Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz. Their work mines social histories, texts and archives—using poetry, ethnography, and multimedia production to create writing, installations, performances and public works. Bielak creates narratives that straddle the historical and contemporary. Researching paradoxical situations and uncanny relationships that she encounters in personal and public life, Bielak responds to social issues with material experimentation and collaborative practices. Schmalz is an artist and poet whose recent work focuses on textual response to encounters with dance, music, and visual art.
Black Athena Collective
Founded in 2015 by artists Heba Y. Amin (EGY) and Dawit L. Petros (ER/CA), the Black Athena Collective is a research and artistic laboratory for experimentation that engages political discourse and territorial logics connected to the African continent. It looks specifically at the architectures of migrancy and the various frameworks of space and territorial demarcations in relation to errant bodies. The collective draws from challenges posed by Martin Bernal’s thesis which questions methodological assumptions embedded within Western historiography.Through multi-disciplinary perspectives including geography, sociology and history, the Black Athena Collective raises the question of migration as a crucial principle for imagining new conventions of territory.