Chicago Artists Coalition STAY ALIVE Preview – Is It a Mirror or a Canvas?

Chicago Artists Coalition STAY ALIVE
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Michael Austin

Chicago Artists Coalition Project

Chicago artist Jeffrey Michael Austin, one of ten recipients of the 2016-17 Bolt Residency, opens STAY ALIVE on Friday, June 23rd. This exhibition is the result of a year-long opportunity brought to completion at the Chicago Artists Coalition in the West Loop.

Reality or Illusion?

The title was born out of the tension of opposites, between hope and despair, activism and complacency. The basic question asked is, “What does it mean to be a human in these days?” The exhibit’s environment becomes a cocoon, literally a greenhouse and an embodied metaphor, which asks visitors the above question of identity.

The gallery is to be transformed into an “industrial grow” operation, a type of plant farming technique whereby participants walk through soil, plants and grow lights and “stumble into” the art exhibit. From a humidor-type feel one will enter the main hall in which steamed surfaces have been created as if misted mirrors hang throughout the space. Upon these varied canvases will be “written” words, images or swipings as one would find in a bathroom.

Chicago Artists Coalition STAY ALIVE
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Michael Austin
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Michael Austin
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Michael Austin

Smoke and Mirrors

The modern crisis of identity is explored further in this main gallery of “hall of mirrors.” In our times, “Where do we find ourselves?” Again, tension between the narcissistic (gazing at our own reflections) and the empathetic (oneness with others and our environment) is explored. Rather than focusing the project on a created “thing,” Austin has given birth to a work of art that comes to life in the space which as many meanings and answers to his questions as there will be visitors/participants.


Opening reception on Friday, June 23rd, 6-9 pm.

The exhibit is open through July 13th.


Chicago Artists Coalition
219 N. Carpenter, Ground Floor


The opening reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Joseph Anthony Rulli is a transplanted Hoosier, living in Chicago since the fall of 2006. A 1987 graduate of the University of Notre Dame (BA, History) and a 1992 graduate of St. Meinrad School of Theology (MDiv) he taught Social Studies, Religion, Philosophy and History at the high school level. He began writing as a career upon his arrival to his second city and has had two short stories published, a stage play performed, an electronic tour book published online and The Chicago Haymarket Affair, his first print book released in October.

Joseph Anthony Rulli
Photo courtesy of Nathanael Filbert

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