Loyola University Chicago

Department of Fine and Performing Arts

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Alumnus Featured at the Chicago Cultural Center

Alumnus Featured at the Chicago Cultural Center

Furtive, installation view, Chicago Cultural Center [courtesy of Filter Photo]

Karolis Usonis is currently featured in Furtive, a three-person exhibition curated by Jennifer Murray, Loyola faculty and Executive Director of Filter Photo, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Usonis presents work alongside Daniel Hojnacki and Krista Wortendyke.

Furtive is a photography-based exhibition that explores the complexity of memory, both personal and collective. Through an examination of place, archive, and the intersection of perception and knowing, three artists ask us to reconsider what we think we know based on our past experiences, communal knowledge and memories. 

[Quiver, installation view, courtesy of Filter Photo]

For Furtive, Usonis is showing four triptychs from his Quiver series (2016- ), which he started in the summer of 2016 as a response to finding his father's photographic archive chronicling his millitary service in the USSR during the 1980s. Usonis delved into this archive as well as his own, employing a process of scanning, cropping, recontextualizing, and close reading, resulting in the exhumation of divergent personal mythologies of what Usonis refers to as "Lithuanian masculinity." 

[Untitled, 2018, courtesy of the artist]

Reflecting on the evolution of Quiver, Usonis recalls cropping into the scanned photographs "in order to anonymize the figures and simultateously remove most of the facial expressions." This depersonalization allowed him to focus on the embodied gestures of male figures in military and recreational contexts, drawing out queer content through visual mis/reading of the images. 

Usonis continued to develop the Quiver series through coursework and critical conversations with Loyola faculty members Jennifer Murray and Noritaka Minami. They encouraged him to clarify his thinking through visual research and reading critical and queer theory. Critiques and contact with photography instructor John Steck Jr, who was an artist in residence at LATITUDE while Usonis did an internship there in 2016-2017, also influenced Usonis' thinking. In addition, joining a critique group of local Chicago artists helped him gain insight into how the series was being seen and understood by others.

The emphasis on a liberal arts education at Loyola broadened Usonis' frame of reference and informs his development as an emerging artist. He notes the significance of being exposed to a wide range artists, thinkers, philosophies, and English poetry as a Loyola undergrad. 

When asked what advice he'd give to an incoming Fine Arts major, Usonis recommends: 

Double major if possible. Pick something like music, history, philosphy - whatever strikes your fance. But keep an interest apart from the visual arts alive, and Loyola will help you find the resources that can help bridge the two post-graduation.

Also, use the library. It's an invaluable resource: photography books, interviews with artists, exhibition catalogs, and so much more is preserved in that chilled basement for us to rummage through, inspire ourselves with, and obsess over.

 

Furtive is on view at the Chicago Culture Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries through April 7, 2019. Admission is FREE to the public. 

This exhibition is presented through DCASE‚Äôs ArtsSpace in-kind grant program and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.