Ash

/   Literary

The Winning Entry to F Newsmagazine's Fiction Contest

In Brief

/   News

US Military in Cuba, Defense Against Pence, SAIC's Sexual Assault Policy, and More

Back To The Future Moment

May 20, 2014
/   Tech

This is just a place holder for people who need type to visualize what the actual copy might look like if it were real content. Don’t speak from a pulpit. Instead, imagine you’re in someone’s front room, having a one on one with them. After all, you may well be in their sitting room, and

Exploring “Europe’s Most Expensive Chapel”

August 24, 2014
/   Arts & Culture

Lisbon’s Igreja de São Roque (Church of Saint Roch) sports a deceptively plain white facade, but the interior of the 17th-century building is home to some of the most prized (and allegedly expensive) Catholic art and architecture in all of Europe.

Pzzzt – The Buzz from Albania

July 29, 2014
/   Art Review

The narrow mouth of a communist-era air-raid shelter beneath an apartment building is the home to Tirana’s independent artist-run gallery space.

Compasses Not Maps

September 11, 2014
/   Technology

Speculative Design shies away from design for mass consumption, which relies on generalizing about groups of people to create one profitable solution. Charlesworth explained her past jobs in design consulting and service design as something she found “ethically difficult.”

Alternative Art Spaces in Chicago

August 5, 2013
/   Feature Stories

Where They Began and Where They Are Now


With identities as diverse as the neighborhoods they occupy, alternative art spaces operate on the same basic premise: to share contemporary art not exhibited in Chicago’s established art institutions.

Writing in the Margins

March 28, 2011
/   Miscellany

Archival writing projects fill a critical void in Chicago By Ania Szremski, Arts Editor Illustration by Alli Berry “If the press took more of an interest in the hundreds of art students in the universities and colleges, they may have more of a reason to stay after graduation. But with the seemingly apathetic

Why was Mubarak Late?

February 10, 2011
/   The Blog

"He's changing his facebook relationship status to 'it's complicated.'" This and other gems from Twitter today as the world waited in vain for Mubarak to step down.

Arts of Life Award Show

January 20, 2011
/   The Blog

Chicago not-for-profit group that facilitates art making for developmentally disabled persons to host award show/benefit next month. Tickets available for sale now.

This month, Paula Calvo interviewed the winners of the Dimensions of an Artist Grant, which was sponsored by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Student Government. The three artists talked about their work and production for their upcoming exhibition hosted by the school’s Student Union Galleries. Paula’s chat with Melissa Leandro is reproduced below; Paula’s interviews with Sheika Lugtu and Laura Anne Gordon can be read online as well.

Photos courtesy of the artist.

Melissa Leandro

Why is it important for you to expose multiple layers in your work?

My art practice is an extension of myself, specifically my memories, family histories, and mementos gathered along the way. In the same way my personality has multiple layers, so does the manifestation of my art practice. I bounce between drawing, textiles, and sculpture when developing my work. This flexibility in material choice reflects my attitudes toward cultural identity. I choose to experiment with how I identify and expose myself through the scope of culture, nationality, class, and gender. These characters are not black and white, but lie in a world of grey. As a first generation American, I’m interested in my personal duality within culture and language.

I’ve found that I often parallel the disparity of English and Spanish by intuitively overlaying contrasting materials to find unlikely combinations of process. For instance, in my weavings, I often build up multiple layers of fiber (plastic, paper, felt, yarn) and fuse them together to create a new substrate. The materials are often cheap castaways that have a relationship to domestic objects, like upholstery, tablecloths, and polyester fabric. Through the process of weaving, elements of the original materials are hidden, exposed, and thus fragmented. The goal is to be left with a piece that evokes a certain kind of “homey” aesthetic — specifically, how dissimilar components can manifest thoughts of nostalgia, family history, and tradition through use of pattern, imagery, and textures.

Mancha (stain), 2014 Jacquard Weaving, Natural Cotton. 41” X 45.5”

Mancha (stain), 2014
Jacquard Weaving, Natural Cotton. 41” X 45.5”

How does Spanglish and growing up in Miami translate into your choice of materials?

Spanglish, for those not familiar with the term, is the use of both English and Spanish words when having a conversation. In Miami, it’s quite common for people to speak in English but regularly use Spanish words or phrases as a form of slang. Although I don’t live in Miami anymore, I still occasionally use Spanglish, and process thoughts and memories in both languages. As time progresses, it becomes difficult to differentiate whether memories were in one language or another — things are lost in translation.

For myself, this mixing of languages has often led to the creation of new slang words. I believe this correlates to the mixing of material textures in my practice. I combine natural with synthetic, bright with muted, digital with the analog, in the same way Miami was a collision of cultures, music, food and so on. In the larger context, there was also a huge contrast between the rural landscapes of Costa Rica and the more urban, party town that is Miami, Florida. I find comfort in merging the physical qualities of a very rural landscape with the rich, hyper-extreme colors that surround my life in the US.

Threshold no. 2, 2014 Synthetic weaving, plastic, rubber, electrical tape. Heat fused. 58” x 42”

Threshold no. 2, 2014
Synthetic weaving, plastic, rubber, electrical tape. Heat fused. 58” x 42”

As a bilingual Latina woman, what are your expectations for your own work and upcoming exhibition?

I’d like my work to constantly generate — or branch off — into new ideas. My process of making and thinking through ideas never completely ends. I often go back and forth with imagery and process by using recurring marks and patterns from finished or in-progress works. A project that starts off as a cyanotype on paper may be translated into a jacquard weaving, but in between the processes there are several iterations of the same base image. It’s a never-ending process that motivates me to keep making work. I’m focused on spending time in my studio, having a dialog about my practice, as well as learning about other artists.

Untitled, 2014 Toner Transfer on Wood. 23”x34”

Untitled, 2014
Toner Transfer on Wood. 23”x34”

How do you challenge “traditional woman’s work”?

My practice involves craft-based processes that were once, and at times still are, largely under the umbrella of domestic female roles or female pastimes: sewing, embroidery, crochet, knitting and weaving, to list a few. I believe the marginalized status of women throughout history has a huge effect on the lack of recognition from the “fine art world” when it comes to noting value in other materials. Particularly materials and processes deemed as craft. For example, I believe cloth is large part of who we are; we have an intimate connection to this material because it physically lives on our bodies and moves into our spaces. To our [craft artists’] benefit, craft has always been a social practice: It’s about communicating skills to each other, passing them down, and refining the techniques. This plays a huge part in my work as I think about traditions: what gets carried on from my own family history, and what fades away through distance and time. I see the “fine art world” as being largely dominated by male painters and sculptors, even now. We still have a long way to go before we see an equal number of female artists being represented and exhibited in galleries and museums. However, I am optimistic the change is happening now!

What artist are you a big fan of?

Too many to list, but here are a few I’ve been thinking about lately: Ann Hamilton, Christy Matson, Lilli Carré, Ebony Patterson, Rachel Uffner, Amanda Ross-Ho, and José Lerma.

Jessica Barrett Sattell

Design & Tech Writer. Web Editor of F Newsmagazine + Arts Journalism Grad Student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Alexia Casanova

Marseille - London - Mexico - Chicago. Arts Editor of F Newsmagazine. Arts Management Grad Student at SAIC.

Troy Pieper

A writer and editor based in Chicago, Illinois. I provide fresh, compelling arts and culture content to a variety of publications and write powerful, targeted copy for a range of institutions.

Alyssa Moxley

Alyssa Moxley graduated SAIC with an MFA in Sound. Using multiple voices, microphone techniques, field recording, music, sound design, and speaker placement, she plays with memory as both a personal and shared medium.

Sarah Wheat

Sarah is the Social Media Manager for F Newsmagazine as well as a graduate student in Modern and Contemporary Art History at SAIC.

Kimia Maleki

Kimia Maleki is a master’s candidate in the Department of Arts Administration and Policy at SAIC.

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