• Aundre Larrow
  • Artist Eliza Myrie examines the separation between person and image in printed media.

“Consider not the lily of the field, but the thistle of the vacant lot,” writes curator Hamza Walker in his introduction to the exhibition “Local Metrics: Majeed, Mooses, Myrie,” which opened last week at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. The exhibit, featuring the work of three Chicago-based artists in residence at the university, looks at possibilities of change in the city.

Friday’s opening reception paired works of sculpture, ready-made, and paper art with a performance from Douglas R. Ewart and Quasar, along with special guests Ann Ward, Jeff Parker, Lester “Helmar” Lashley, and Harrison Bankhead. One visitor, six year-old Indigo Valiant, a frequent jazz concertgoer, tried to describe how she danced to the music: “It’s complicated,” she said. The Logan Center’s partitioned design allowed for a quieter exhibit space at the front of the building and a louder performance space in the back of the building. The opening reception is part of a larger series of events being put on by the Arts & Public Life program and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture at the university.

While both abstract and formally complex, the works strongly engage the environment that produced them. “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home by Now,” Faheem Majeed’s monumental billboard depicting the new mixed-income development of Oakwood Shores, critiques the ephemerality of that hopeful idea, bringing attention to the bureaucratic measures that have made a less-than-ideal transition from public housing high-rises to new developments. Cathy Alva Mooses’s works chronicle the declining population in Pilsen. A stack of unused chairs from an elementary school leans against a wall, towering over the gallery’s visitors; in another work, the dwindling population of Pilsen is signaled by holes punched in a piece of paper. Eliza Myrie’s broadside newspaper, printed with the images of one of the youth convicted for Derrion Albert’s murder on one side and his sister Rhea on the other, questions the proliferation of human images in mass media. Myrie’s other work, Chump Change, focuses on the value of small things: pennies are scattered throughout the exhibit, sometimes ignored by visitors or picked up and collected by children.

“The Chump Change work is something that I haven’t exhibited before this, but I anticipate will be exhibited many, many times in the future,” Myrie said. “My needs for figuring out if I should put pennies in a well or if I should put them on the floor was aided completely by the residency. I was able to talk to people who work for the Water Reclamation District and know how to dig a well, and then I was able to speak to them and figure out if that was good or bad for me and then I could make further decisions.”

A slide show and Q&A with Eliza Myrie are after the jump.