EXPO Chicago Rhona Hoffman Gallery presents CADASTRAL SHAKING (CHICAGO V1 )Review - Segregation Snapshot
Working alongside members of the Chicago printmaking community at Spudnik Press Co-Operative, artist Amanda Williams brings CADASTRAL SHAKING (CHICAGO V1) to Expo Chicago.
For those of us who live in Chicago, we know that the persistence of Chicago’s segregation can be illustrated by something as everyday as riding the Red Line from Hyde Park to Boys Town. In Cadastral Shaking (Chicago v1), 2019, Chicago artist Amanda Williams explores themes of racism and segregation by demonstrating and reshaping the history of Chicago’s redlining practices.
Cadastral Shaking, on display at the Rhona Hoffman EXPO booth, not only illustrates the history of Chicago, but it’s production draws from Chicago’s local printmaking community. The print is a product of Chicago nonprofit Spudnik Press Co-Operative’s publishing program that includes artists like Candida Alvarez, Paul Nudd, Steve Reinke, and Brendan Fernandes.
This blind debossment, screen and relief print directly addresses the practice of redlining in Chicago. The ghost print is an image of a relined map from the Federal Housing Administration. The red zones demarcate which zones are risks for housing loans because the federal government has deemed them hazardous. The redline practices at play in this reimagined 1930s map, systematically lowered property value and those economic side effects are still felt today.
In Cadastral Shaking, Williams, a South Side Chicago native, has created a sort of anti-map. Together with Spudnik Press, she cut out each individual zone and shook this puzzle of government draw districts apart. “She’s been trying to think about how can we shake up segregation,” Angee Lenard Spudnik Press Co-operative founder said.
The process of anti-mapping in the piece invites us to consider how we might structure our lives and neighborhoods without the hand of government and bias. “Her (Williams) work often relies on operational things that she does and she tries to figure out a process that mirrors the ideas that she’s working with,” Lenard said. “She’s talked about letting things land organically instead of letting them land by human hand and bias. She wanted to figure out an operation to symbolically undo what has historically happened in Chicago.”
The nuances in meaning and composition of Cadastral Shaking also stem from the fact that Williams is a multimedia artist and doesn’t focus solely in print. “I really like working with people who are newer to print or don’t focus solely on printmaking because I feel like they approach print in such a different way,” Lenard said. “ I don’t want to discredit printmakers, but […] when I invite artists who aren’t printmakers and are more conscious of material choices and how that mirrors process choices and how that mirrors the content of their work, there’s a stronger connection between the two sometimes because printmaking isn’t their medium.”
While Chicago is a unique case study for segregation, unfortunately, it’s narrative mirrors many other American cities. While speaking with the representatives of Rhona Hoffman Gallery, they noted how collectors from New York and Los Angeles spoke about how they related to the William’s print and see similar issues of systemic racism and segregation in their own cities.
Castral Shakings currently sits in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office calling out government’s hand in making Chicago the segregated city it still is today. This writer hopes it asks her to question the value systems of those who pull the strings.
For more information on Rhona Hoffman Gallery: Rhona Hoffman Gallery website
For more information on Spudnik Press Co-Operative: Spudnik press website
For more information on Amanda Williams website
Photos courtesy of EXPO Chicago Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Ally Hembree is a graduate from the University of Puget Sound, where she studied Printmaking and Communication Studies. At Puget Sound she expanded her love of music as a DJ for KUPS FM .