Artists in Conversation:

Maria Gaspar

Why have you chosen to produce artwork in Chicago?

Originally from Chicago, my dream was to live in New York. I was obsessed with its vibrancy, energy and creativity.

Dianna Frid

How do you respond to global issues through your art practice?

In 1998, while visiting the countryside in The Netherlands, a friend pointed out that-counter to the laws of gravity-the water canals surrounding the fields on which we stood were actually flowing up a very slight incline. These waterways are, in fact, part of an old artificial hydraulic system of drainage and containment that has kept Holland above sea level.

Michelle Grabner

How do you balance being an artist, mother and teacher?

With absolute conviction I believe and practice Ad Reinhardt's thesis put forth in "Extreme Routine."

Dawoud Bey

What does it mean to be a Black Artist? The Ironies of Diversity, or the Disappearing Black Artist

In spite of what seems to be an acceptance of diversity as a cultural and social fact of life, both in and outside of the art world, black artists are, for the most part, still largely consigned to a narrow conceptual space in which to operate.

Wafaa Bilal

Wafaa Bilal

How did political oppression impact your art practice?

I was born in Iraq on June 10, 1966. Because a member of my family had been accused of disloyalty to my country, I was denied the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming an artist.

William Conger

An Artist's Comment on Then and Now

I began showing my work in the late 1950s by participating in competitive museum shows and invitationals in college galleries and similar venues. I didn't have a solo gallery show until 1974. I suppose that was due to youthful shyness but it was also due to the scarcity of galleries and to the refusal by gallerists to sign on artists who had not yet compiled an impressive and sustained track record.

Nicole Beck

How can artist organizations like Sculpture International support an artist's practice?

When you are working in large scale public sculpture, a support group becomes one of your most useful tools - like a smooth, hot welder or your favorite hammer and chisel. Chicago has had a really strong sculpture community for years, but it's been only since 2004 that we set it in concrete by establishing Chicago Sculpture International (CSI), a satellite organization of the International Sculpture Center (ISC).

Why should artists work with an art or business consultant?

Before I quit my day job to make a living as a full-time artist, I was the curator of a corporate art collection. Many of the issues I dealt with were the same as those of freelance art consultants. So, while I'm learning new things all the time, I feel like I understand where they're coming from more than I would if I hadn't had a job buying art with other people's money.

What are the challenges of working as a photographic artist in a world of fast-changing technologies?

As a teacher of photography (who firmly believes in beginning with the black and white darkroom) it has been interesting for me to see the speed at which this medium has evolved in these past few years. Digital technologies have changed some aspects of older two-dimensional art mediums (painting, drawing, printmaking) and have introduced newer media forms into the art world. For some photographers, however, it has totally redefined the input and output of imagery.