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June 09 – September 02, 2018


Juan Ángel Chavez, a Chicago based artist, works with repurposed and found materials to create interactive installations, assemblages, and sculptures that often speak the universal language of human survival, resourcefulness and adaptation.

Born in La Junta, Chihuahua Mexico, Chavez moved to the US with his family at 13. He's currently an active artist in Chicago and a leader within his community. Engaging in public art practices, Chavez has created a series of murals and mosaics throughout Chicago’s neighborhood schools and community centers. His work is also part of the City of Chicago’s public art collection with prominent works in libraries and transit systems. In 2001, Juan began a “non-permission” art installation initiative. Utilizing found objects to create sculptures and assemblages, Chavez changed the notion of the abandoned urban space. This influenced other artists to reclaim the often deserted and boarded up buildings in urban environments. Because of this endeavor, he was awarded the The Richard H. Driehaus Individual Artist Award. Since then he has focused on the creation of large scale installations that transform galleries, museums and cultural centers into interactive environments.

Stayin’ Alive features a variety of work including: Gramophone, a 12ft3 installation, two assemblages titled Chief Wonder and KOKA, as well as a variety of prints. Encompassing the nostalgia of sound and place, Gramophone is built with its own disassembly in mind. The piece comments on the temporality of shelter and refuge as it hangs from the center of the gallery, creating a tent-like structure. The assemblages made of fishing line and rope come from Chavez’s memory of time spent fishing in Mexico as a kid. Chavez recalls how his line used to get tangled. Now, as line and rope entangle within each assemblage, a connective thread of human migration, adaptability, and influence within the urban sphere appear. Binaries of dystopia versus utopia, tension versus suspension, and human needs versus wants are symbolically played out.

Chavez’s work often looks at how the objects, tools, and materials we use shift over time. As technology advances, even language can be additional material we discard. The prints within the show—some of which were done in collaboration with artist Cody Hudson—are the result of discarded font and type. Blending the line of where material ends and language begins, the prints demonstrate how language, like the material and objects, can be a utilized as a form of resourcefulness. Juan Ángel Chavez has exhibited in various local, national and international exhibitions and has been nationally recognized by several prestigious awards: Richard Driehaus individual artist award, Chicago, Illinois Arts Council, Individual Artist Fellowship, Louis Comfort Tiffany award, NY, Artadia individual artist award, NY, 3ARTS award in the visual arts category, Chicago, Joan Mitchell Award for painter and sculptures, NY, and most recently the Joyce Foundation award.

He continues to create new bodies of work and developing ideas for large scale projects. In the meantime, Chavez teaches as a professor in the Sculpture Department of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, inspiring and encouraging others to see the inherent and creative possibilities within the environments they inhabit.

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