Fantásticolismo: Curated by Cristobal Alday


Do you see yourself yet? Look past the flower bed. You are closer than you think. Gushing out in a tormentous motion and falling harder with each passing moment

Janhavi Khemka
                       Yae Jee Min
José Santiago Pérez
                  Roderick Sawyer 
Hope Wang
         Payton Harris-Woodard

Curated by Cristobal Alday

Opening: Friday, April 14, 2023, 6-9PM
On View: April 14 – June 1, 2023
Address: 9th floor, Mana Contemporary
2233 S Throop St, Chicago, IL 60608

fantásticolismo,  a group show featuring works by Janhavi Khemka, Yae Jee Min, José Santiago Perez, Roderick Sawyer, Hope Wang, and Payton Harris-Woodard, curated by Cristobal Alday. For this exhibition, Alday thinks through the relationship between the visual arts and poetry by juxtaposing the artists’ works with written proses as a curatorial response.

Program support by Monira Foundation and Mana Contemporary. 

Artists and Curator Bios: 

Janhavi Khemka (b. 1993, Varanasi, India) Khemka is an interdisciplinary artist in India and Chicago. She attends the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in pursuit of a Master of fine arts degree in print media. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Painting and printmaking from the Faculty of Visual Art, Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India (2015) and a Master of Fine art in printmaking from Graphics Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati University in Santiniketan (2017). Her current artistic research has an intersection of traditional printmaking, animation, fiber arts, and performance. She has exhibited her artwork in regional, national, and international galleries and institutions throughout the United States, India, Norway, Korea, and the United Kingdom. She has participated in national and international exhibitions, artist residencies, given lecture, and attended national printmaking conferences and taking the workshop. Currently she got an award Printmaking Today Graduate Award for Winter Issues Magazine in December 2022 from Cello Press Limited, Witney, UK. In 2023, she got a select to present a Solo exhibition, at Comfort Station Logan Square, Chicago, IL. She has recently been invited to attend four-weeks to thirty-nine-week residencies at Vermont Studio Center, at Vermont in US, Kala’s Artist in Residence Program at Berkeley in CA, and Bodies of Work, University of Illinois Chicago at Chicago, IL.

Yae Jee Min (b. Jinju, South Korea) Yae Jee Min is an interdisciplinary artist. She holds a MFA and BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in psychology from Boston University. Using intersected methodologies  of painting and craft, she investigates nostalgia through abstraction and materiality. Through whimsy and childish haphazard zones, she creates spaces in which memories, nostalgia and identity both engage and entangle with one another. Whether it is dealing with specific moments of domestic spaces, sleep deprivation, mental illness, and femininity; her work confronts these spaces of familiarity with whimsicality to allow viewers into the moment safely, allowing polemic thoughts to be buffered by notions of blanket warmth. Her work has been exhibited internationally and nationally including Seoul Museum of Arts, Torrance Art Museum, and DfbrL8r Gallery.

José Santiago Pérez (he/him) is an artist and educator based in Chicago who traces his ancestry to the Nawat people of Kuscatlán (El Salvador). He weaves plastics into containers of time, vessels of memory, portals for speculation, and spaces of belonging José is a 2022 resident fellow at the Lunder Institute of American Art and a 2019-2020 HATCH resident at Chicago Artists Coalition. His work has been supported by an Illinois Arts Council Agency grant, a DCASE Individual Artist Program grant from the City of Chicago, and a Chicago Artists Coalition SPARK grant. Solo exhibitions in 2022 include Portalisms at Boundary in Chicago and Shimmerings of the Not Yet (T)Here at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids. José has presented craft and performance based work in group exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. Features and reviews of his work have appeared in Artforum, Basketry+ Magazine, Sixty Inches from Center, Newcity Art, Art Intercepts, Other Peoples Pixels, and the Archives + Futures Podcast. He holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he teaches in the Fiber and Material Studies department.

Roderick Sawyer has always been artistically inclined, but it wasn’t until he started taking photo/video classes in high school that he knew he wanted to continue to navigate the world as an artist. Sawyer started attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and began to combine his visual work with writing through the completion of a thesis titled “The Power of Personal Narratives Within Black and Brown Communities Through Graffiti” for his undergraduate degree in the BA in Visual & Critical Studies program. After graduating in 2018, Sawyer took time off from school and worked as a Children’s Associate in the Chicago Public Library to learn about early literacy, explore his love for the Spanish, and to work with kids. In the summer of 2019 Sawyer combined his interest in language learning with photography by embarking on Arquetopia’s self-directed photography residency in Puebla, Mexico. Once back in Chicago later that year, Sawyer joined the Field/Work Residency through the Chicago Artist Coalition. He has gone on to be a part of CAC’s HATCH residency program in 2021-2022, a studio member of the Fulton Street Art Collective, and is currently teaching art at the Washington Park Arts Incubator and the Hyde Park Art Center.

Hope Wang is an artist, arts facilitator, and entrepreneur based in Chicago, IL. She runs LMRM “loom room,” a floor loom rental studio where she hopes to broaden accessibility to weaving equipment for fiber artists in Chicago. Her practice is intrinsically tied with equity in the arts and she strives to complain about it regularly. Wang believes artist’s pay is an equity issue, and her research interests include structures for better practices in the creative sector. Wang is also an organizer of Chicago Textile Week 2019 and 2021, a cross-disciplinary exposition connecting and strengthening textile communities throughout the city. 

Contending with sloppy traces of human activity around sites of industrial labour, her studio work explores memory, loss, and longing in the ever-shifting architectural landscape. Her practice encompasses painting, prints, photo collages, textiles, and artist books. Wang received her BFA (2018) from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a 2021 recipient of the gener8tor Art Accelerator Grant as well as a 2022 recipient of a DCASE Chicago Individual Artist Grant. She has attended the Digital Weaving Lab Residency at Praxis Fiber Workshop (Cleveland, OH); The Weaving Mill WARP Residency (Chicago, IL); and Spudnik Press Cooperative Fellowship (Chicago, IL). Her work has been exhibited nationally at McHenry County College (Crystal Lake, IL); Savannah Center Gallery for Contemporary Arts (Gary, IN); Friend of a Friend Gallery (Denver, CO); Heaven Gallery (Chicago, IL); and Elijah Wheat Showroom (New York City, NY), amongst others.

Payton Harris-Woodard’s (b. 1996, Chicago, IL) earned her BA from Columbia College Chicago, and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.Recent exhibitions include Ultra Local at Van Der Plas Gallery, New York, NY, Generations at Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL; Exit Counseling at Green Gallery in Milwaukee, WI; and Ground Floor Biennial at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago,IL. Her writing and artwork has been published in Hyperallergic Magazine, F News Magazine, Stellium Literary Magazine and Hand papermaking Magazine where she published an interview with Howardena Pindell. Awards include the New Artist Society Full Merit Award at School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Black Writers Fellowship with Hand Paper making Magazine; and, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Fellowship.

In a larger societal and historical context, Harris-Woodards work investigates the complexities within the autonomy of the black female body through an autobiographical sense. She observes photographs of herself, and fantastically invented spaces to explore/create a personal catharsis that exists within both a historical and personal past, of being inside the body, and simultaneously reconciling with reflection, isolation, and difference in the physical plane Through transformation and control, the works celebrate the sticky bits of finding one’s own voice, and existing across virtual, real, casual, and academic spaces. Through the medium of paint and paper, she navigates various colors and patterns, and sinuous matter to create a personal symbology that highlights a selective convoluted narrative. The partially slit brown figures incompletely expose the most humanistic aspects of the body, while placing emphasis on the monstrous qualities of one’s psyche. In the viewer’s face, she juxtaposes ideas of beauty, while reclaiming a self-consciousness journey of self-examination.

Cristobal Alday (he/him) is a Queer Latinx creative from the south side of Chicago. He focuses on photography, and film particularly dealing with queerness, familial dynamics, and space. Utilizing archival family photographs and influences from around the city, he creates a form of communicating history of the past, present and what could be the future. 

He is an independent curator and writer. Using collage making and poetic responses, he reflects on artists, their works and exhibitions and focuses on the collaborative aspect of projects and art making through audience interaction via online platforms such as Instagram and in person. He has held previous positions at the Art Institute of Chicago-Prints and Drawings Department, Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University: Art Theory and Practice Department, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago Artists Coalition, and Johalla Projects. He exhibited at Fundación Universidad del Cine (Universidad del Cine), Buenos Aires, Argentina; Fulton Street Collective, Chicago Illinois; the Chicago Artists Coalition; and Tempus Projects, Tampa, Florida.