Have you ever wanted to be famous? Like, Oprah famous? Maybe your aspirations are less stratospheric. Perhaps you’d like to be recognized as the best pick to host the talent show in your hometown. Maybe you have delusions of making a group of thirtysomething men into the next hot boy band. Or, it’s conceivable that you want to be in a position to grant social acceptance on behalf of your entire race. These are examples of the particular dreams pursued by the artists exhibiting in As Stars At Daybreak this fall at the Chicago Artists Coalition.
Casey Smallwood presents videos that meditate on Edwards Place, a historic house museum in Springfield, Illinois. By merging actual accounts from the site with a contemporary missing persons case, Smallwood employs local aspiring actors to perform the experimental narrative.Danny Volk shows photographic and video documentation from his experiences as the manager for "Still Boys," a Toronto-based boy band, and the psychosexual intimacies that complicate their relationship. Stephanie Graham exhibits ephemera resulting from the nomination process of the “Select Black Experience Council,” an organization established by the artist and aimed at nominating, acknowledging, and legitimizing non-Black allies who should receive a “Black pass.”
The exhibition’s title, As Stars At Daybreak, comes from Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and refers to a paradoxical situation: The slow vanishing of something much in the same way that the mystical cosmos appears entirely present, until the moment it recedes inexorably into the light of day. The title also plays on a sense of stardom, but precisely at the moment when that illustriousness slips from one’s grasp. Graham, Smallwood, and Volk all play with the desires and trappings surrounding that fame.
Stephanie Graham makes photos and films drawing from her fascination with relationships, subcultures, social class, and suburbia. Stephanie recreates situations from her personal experience and the experiences of others often times using herself as the subject. In this way, Stephanie’s images are a performance, retelling stories to the viewer. Stephanie studied Film and Photography at Columbia College Chicago and currently works in film and television production.
Casey Smallwood creates lens-based performances in order to study and articulate an as-yet inarticulate space navigated by the performer. The viewer’s relationship with the performer relies heavily on cinematography, carrying its own wavering perspectives between viewer and narrator that give and take away the idea of viewer agency. Casey Smallwood received an MFA from the University of Chicago in Visual Arts and a BFA from Missouri State University in Photography.
Danny Volk got his BA in Theater Studies at Kent State University in 2006 and his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2014. Volk’s work assumes that superficiality is the essential truth of objects and actions and uses theatrical semiotics to explore the social world.
Jaxon Pallas is an artist, archivist, curator, and educator primarily concerned with projects at the intersection of the personal, the popular, and the political. He organizes shows as curator for the City Colleges of Chicago under the name Pedestrian Project. His other projects include the Teen Creative Agency at MCA Chicago and the Institute for Encyclopedic Amalgamation. He earned a MFA from the University of Chicago and BA degrees from Rice University.