Friday, July 9, 2010

"Creating Change" at "Visual Narrative" ...The Author's Perspective

The Visual Narrative exhibition—currently on display at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago—will conclude in just two weeks. Prior to the close of the exhibition, there will be another event which ties into the idea of the "Narrative". I've invited two Chicago area authors to present their most recent projects. In an attempt to begin a dialogue for personal and social change, Jan Baiden and Cheryl Jefferson will discuss the ideas contained within their recent books. The lecture and discussion will be held at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, which—not so ironically—happens to be the venue for the national juried exhibition titled, “Visual Narrative”. The event will take place on Wednesday, July 21, at 6-8pm.

Utilizing Gallery 180 as the venue for a literary event seems obvious due to the content of the current show. Evoking emotion and initiating change is the purpose for the creation of fine art. Visual artists—as well as writers—want to communicate and connect with people. Their work becomes the voice by which they can question, document, inform, or proclaim a personal perspective. Artists ask questions and attempt to explore ideas …ideas which may remove the audience from their comfort zone. The exhibition, “Visual Narrative” seems to ask who we are as a society and how we relate to one another. The authors do the same but also consider the personal perspective. Baiden suggests that we seize the day and Jefferson discloses current-day criminal traditions. Inspirational, educational or provocative… an observation of the human condition will be evident in the narratives presented by our guest authors as they attempt to begin a dialogue for personal and social change.

Jan Baiden’s book, Snapshots, contains the author’s memoirs in a series of inspirational stories defining an amazingly adventurous life. The book is filled with numerous passages exploring life lessons, while containing an underlying prompt to consider opportunities as they arise. The stories seem to highlight the idea that when one door closes another opens… and what appears on the other side is always another adventure.

Choice and the potential for change is what brought author Cheryl Jefferson to write Death of a Raks Star, Book One of her Breaking Criminal Traditions Series (Copyright 2010 Cheryl Jefferson), due out in 2011.
"Worldwide, millions of women live too close to their bones and too far from their dreams because they were born into cultures of criminal tradition. Criminal traditions are real-life rituals that result in the death or maiming of thousands of women each year. These practices have been in place for centuries and the dark legacy of using them to protect male power by controlling females continues today. The mission of my novels is to expose this cycle, the passion of my life is to break criminal tradition. The initial step," Jefferson explains, "is using fiction to raise reader consciousness because consciousness is the first step toward change."

Both authors paint powerful stories of humanity. Like the visual artists, the writers look at who we've become and how we relate. The question remains—Can we create change through the power of narrative? I believe social and self awareness may be the answer.

The book lecture and discussion, “Creating Change” will be presented at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago on Wednesday, July 21 beginning at 6pm. This event is free and open to the public. Gallery 180 is located at 180 N. Wabash—at the corner of Lake and Wabash—in Chicago’s Loop.

The current exhibition “Visual Narrative” a national juried exhibition of fine art that tells a story—will conclude on July 22nd. Additional information about the show can be found at The gallery is open Monday-Thursday 8am-8pm; Friday, 8am-5:30pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; closed Sunday.

Above left: Jan Baiden, Right: Cheryl Jefferson

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