Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Deb Sokolow

Deb Sokolow will be working onsite at the MCA on April 7, 2009 from 11 am - 7pm.

Deb Sokolow's elaborate drawings map relationships among various people and places in her apartment complex, neighborhood block, and office, chronicling her feelings about them. Using materials common to office supply closets such as highlighter, pen, correction fluid, pencil, thumbtacks, in addition to found images and other materials, her penetrating observations of human behavior and folly offset the often comical tone of her storytelling. Sokolow received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute in 2004.

To see more of Sokolow's work check out her website:

1. Could you describe an average day in the studio? Do you have any routines?

An average day in the studio involves drinking a pot of tea, eating peanut butter sandwiches, gazing out the studio window at the 8 lines of train track (I'm always hoping to see hobos) and browsing through news headlines on the Internet. If I see anything interesting, especially a story relating to drug lords, politics, or scandal, I bookmark it for future reference. Then I start in on whatever long-term project I'm working on at the time. Right now, I'm working on a commission for the Spertus Museum, but I'm also trying to working on some smaller, unrelated drawings and books.

2. What do you collect and how does it inspire you?

I like to have a lot of mystery and spy novels lying around the studio. Reading them from time to time helps when I'm trying to write in the voice of my paranoid narrator.

3. What do you like to listen to/watch while creating?
I listen to the radio pretty much non-stop; One of my favorite radio shows is "On the Media" on NPR, which often focuses on the political, behind-the-scenes aspects of media coverage. I'm also a big fan of Joe Frank's haunting radio narratives.

4. What are some of your favorite websites/blogs to visit? - a great resource for information on the mafia, haunted places, military leaders, and conspiracy theories. - an amazing online archive of time lines - a website where you can type in any Chicago address to find a list of reported crimes that have recently been committed in that area.

5. What would you consider to be Chicago ’s best kept secret?
During the more temperate months, there are wild flowers and grasses growing along what appears to be an unofficial biking/walking trail next to the 8 lines of train track outside my studio window. These tracks travel through the heart of Chicago. One of these days I'm going to take the trail and see where it goes.

6. What is your favorite piece in the MCA collection?
Aernout Mik's "Refraction" video installation, but I also dig Richard Prince's "Good News, Bad News" screenprint on canvas.

7. What do you do in your studio when you are procrastinating?
I surf the Internet and read about conspiracy theories. My current favorite conspiracy theory is about the New World Order headquarters being located beneath Denver International Airport. The theory claims that several clues placed throughout the airport indicate this, including a creepy, apocalyptic mural in baggage claim. I haven't been to the airport but have seen images of the mural, and it is definitely creepy. I'm planning a trip out there to investigate it further.

8. Who (living or dead) would you invite to a cocktail party?
Ted Koppel and Oliver Stone. I'd like to hear what their different perspectives are on who killed JFK. I'd also ask them advice on what news stories I should be following right now.

9. Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, several.

10. What's the last great book you read?
"Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press" by Alexander Cockburn (Author), Jeffrey St. Clair

The revelations in this book about the CIA are incredibly disturbing.
11. What do you do when you hit a creative block?
I watch tv. There are some excellent dramas like "The Wire", "Deadwood", "Mad Men" and "Battlestar Galactica" that are rich with ideas about the narrative form.

12. If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?
I think about this a lot - If I wasn't an artist, I'd be running a business where people would pay me to go into their homes and play with their cats (no litter scooping would be involved in this endeavor). Either this, or writing for a television drama.

Christa Donner: Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Christa Donner was onsite work this last Tuesday March 3rd for this month's installment in the WIP program. It was fabulous watching as she worked on her large scale work- painting and drawing on the floor while chatting with museum visitors.