The preparation for Nomadic Studio dates back all the way to December of 2009—about seven months before the opening. We learned that our exhibit was to be part of a larger citywide initiative about the artists’ studio and what that meant to us. And while we were artists, more importantly we were all educators with years of experience between us. In context: Teaching is an oddly transient career; you regularly pack these little kits of materials for the day’s class and lug it from home to classroom to room to room and then back home again. Lather, rinse, repeat. We wanted to focus on this aspect of modularity and mobility while still being able to set up at ‘home base’ and get things done. With that in mind, we landed on Nomadic Studio as a title and set out to populate it.
Without going too far down the rabbit hole of the ensuing brainstorm, we gathered up a list of artists, organizations, musicians, educators, and most importantly spaces that reflected what a movable studio could entail. If the walls of the gallery space were our canvases, we organized everything into Studios (recreations of actual spaces), Portable Studios (modular art kits that moved in and out of the space), Artists (whose work would change thematically monthly), and Events (a chance for the public to participate either on premises or in a satellite space). The attached illustration “Nomadic Studio Floor Plan” was the first draft of us trying to distill this all down into something.
For a first draft, compared to how it actually played out…we got incredibly close! It ended up being both a lot bigger and richer than this first stab. But with very few exceptions, we got everything we wanted and more. It was an exciting time, and they all made this thing hum. Salut.
In the end, we created and re-created modules of the following studios: Gwen Ihnat + Brian McNally’s ‘Rumpus Room’ basement recording studio, our own ‘SITE Office’ with an attached ‘Workroom’, Ian Bennet’s ‘Anode’ gallery, the late great Eric Utech’s ‘Community Garden Canoe’, a ’Black Public Radio’ broadcast booth, and a ‘Convertible Stage’ which changed to look like two Chicago venues that had recently closed down. Both Marshall Preheim’s “A\V Aerie” and Mark Oster + Rich Fessler’s “Union Rock Yards” would get a second run at the last night they were open. The bands that played the nights they closed down all agreed to an encore.
And we haven’t even scratched the surface of the portables!
All that’s forthcoming, of course. Thanks for getting this far.
Ten years and a day,