KT Hawbaker

  • Cass Davis, Revival II, 2016, Jacquard woven cloth, 13 x 28 ".
    picks November 03, 2020

    Cass Davis

    Perhaps it’s just a reflection of my teen-goth impulses and the season we’re in, but I’m convinced that Cass Davis’s newest show, “Out of Time,” is plagued by dark spirits. As in any truly terrifying story, trauma is the real apparition here. The ghosts of Davis’s sordid evangelical childhood suffuse the gallery, as do the failures of the American dream. As curator Pia Singh notes in her essay accompanying the exhibition, the artist examines the “complex specters of patriarchal oppression,” showing how these demons “hold a different yet intertwined capacity to haunt entire lifetimes.”


  • Jenn Smith, Being a Wheel (detail), 2019, ink-jet prints, graphite, ink, paper, found objects, 5 3/8 x 12 1/2'.
    picks November 27, 2019

    Jenn Smith

    Wobbly and geometric all at once, Jenn Smith’s fervently painted canvases are the epitome of “organized chaos.” The artist seems to say the same of her primary subjects: conservative Christianity and white Jesus (the bearded dude who just wants to love you lest you wind up sandwiched between fire and brimstone). On a wall of her one-room show “Soup Kite Laser Church,” at Flatland, Being a Wheel, 2019, is installed as two enormous circles full of found and handmade objects—pamphlets, ink-jet prints, graphite and ink drawings of abstract shapes—that unveil her process and her personal relationship

  • Betsy Odom, Birkenstock, 2018, black cork, leather, buckles, paint, rabbits' feet, 10 x 4 x 3".
    picks March 15, 2019

    Betsy Odom

    Like the queer communities that came before her, Betsy Odom speaks in code. Folded handkerchiefs allude to Hal Fischer’s “Gay Semiotics,” 1977. Birkenstock, 2018, is a rendition in drag of the shoe closely associated with lesbian culture. The open-toed sandal evokes summer—a loose, sweaty season between the fixed points of propagation and death, a time for slumber parties, summer camp, and self-actualization, all before heading back to the intellectual locker rooms of high school. There’s also the subtlety of Bandaids, 2016, a set of four strips of leather arranged like pasties that suggest a

  • Yvette Mayorga, Mexi Pocket, 2017, acrylic piping on canvas, diamater 20”.
    slant September 28, 2018

    On the Ground: Chicago

    I DECIDED I WOULD SOMEDAY MOVE TO CHICAGO when I was in the ninth grade, as I stood in a hotel bathroom scrubbing a henna tattoo off of my arm. Prom was coming up, and my Pentecostal boyfriend thought the shooting star I’d acquired at the Navy Pier looked “trampy.” We were on our high school’s band trip to the city, marking my first adventure without my parents, who were back at home in Iowa, on the brink of a poisonous divorce. The illusion of freedom that Chicago offered was intoxicating, and I began to see a city I could aspire to: She had neither time for controlling men nor other people’s