Chicago

Sandra Straus

Smart Gallery

It’s “Parents Night” at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, and Sandra Straus walks into her youngster’s sixth-grade social studies class. On the bulletin board are rows of notebook-paper sheets; the assignment was to “make a million marks.”

Noting that the “children’s demonstration expresses how I feel as much as any other projects I’ve done,” Straus transferred 115 of the assignment papers out of that social studies context and into an art gallery. Behind the gallery’s permanent, classical sculpture case, the notebook-paper sheets are unexpected, immediate, and refreshingly direct.

All of Straus’s recent work has demonstrated the “inside” of symbols: how their too-many-times, dried-out conventions take on new, personalized meanings in a spontaneous, real-life situation. A symbol is removed from the realm of blurry “Sure-I-know-what-that-means” cognition, removed from “Human Values,”

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