photographs of women from India hanging on a wall
An installation shot from the current exhibition at Ruschwoman, Surekha’s “Smell is the Last Memory to Go.” Credit: Courtesy Ruschwoman

In August 2021, the new art gallery Ruschwoman announced its arrival with the group exhibition “Speculative Magenta Hauntology.” The lead image in the exhibition was by the late artist Chiara Fumai. In the photo, titled Annie Jones Reads Valerie Solanas, Fumai was dressed as the famed bearded woman Annie Jones; behind her, large, bold letters read, “A Male Artist Is a Contradiction In Terms.” It was a fitting summation for the self-described feminist-aligned gallery, not least because Fumai was a formidable feminist artist deeply interested in the occult and in disrupting patriarchal norms. It perfectly encapsulated the curatorial and strategic aims of the space, which include radical inclusivity, a turn toward the provocative, and a politics of care and support.

Operated by art world power couple Matt Morris and Eric Ruschman in La Villita, Ruschwoman could be considered a return to form for the duo, who cut their teeth running the collective gallery U.turn Art Space in Cincinnati. Ruschwoman is a counterpart to the perhaps more commercially minded gallery, Ruschman, located in Irving Park. To date, Ruschwoman’s exhibitions have been inspired. “Bells for Her” included three artists who use archival materials as a powerful component of storytelling. A solo exhibition by the Indian artist Surekha consists of dozens of portraits from photo studios in India, showing young women seated before a mirror, to show off their hair braided with jasmine. Field & Florist is providing flowers and fragrance to activate the space.

While Morris and Ruschman do not entirely eschew the trappings of the art world—noting that “we must all find ways to survive and thrive” in the current power structures—their experimental, coquettishly defiant project space is a much-welcomed disruption of business as usual.

2100 S. Marshall, Unit 105,
Surekha, “Smell is the Last Memory to Go,” through 4/3. By appointment only, email

Best of Chicago 2021 is
presented by

Green Thumb

sponsored in part by

Goethe Institut
Chicago History Museum

Refer to the closed final ballot to see all the categories and finalists that were voted on.