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Meet Amanda Assaley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Assaley.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
This past May, I received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where I focused in Sculpture and Fiber & Material Studies. While at SAIC, I was the co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine with Karmel Sabri. In collaboration with other artists, activists, and organizations such as Syrian Community Network and Arab American Family Services, we organized monthly public events and panels advocating for the rights of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and Arabs within the United States. In 2017, I attended the Yale School of Art at Norfolk Residency, and this summer I was a resident at ACRE in Steuben, Wisconsin. I also founded Zakaib, a project space located in Avondale, Chicago, which I am so excited to expand this upcoming year with Karmel Sabri as my co-director.

Please tell us about your art.
I desire to belong, have friendships, and safety for my community, but also I desire the tiger chairs in Coco Chanel’s home, the gold swan faucet in Liberace’s bathroom, and to feel like I’m both the woman and the dog made of seashells.1 The work I make navigates this situation by using materials such as silk, plastic, and gold lamé to engage a conversation about what seduces us and how.

My work questions what I desire and the processes of such desire. I consider how my cultural desires and feelings of belonging are constantly co-opted to signal synthetic material desires. Even if I loved a material thing in the first place, my feelings must now navigate the thing’s context, value, and aura within a capitalist market. I’m trapped to now desire the process, rather than what could have occurred from those desires. Because of this, desire is futile.

With my work, I am looking to escape this coercive framework and allow my desires, both practical and frivolous, to effectively work towards what is important to me as someone trying to figure out how to collectively create a better world.
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1 Katharina Fritsch, Woman with Dog (Frau mit Hund), 2004, Modern and Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
What is “going on in the world today” has been going on for a long time – since the beginning of colonialism. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the racism in the US and throughout the world, the xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy towards refugees and asylum seekers – none of this is new. Nearly as long as there has been a United States, the US has interfered in other countries. The destabilization of countries in the Middle East and Latin American has been a multi-billion dollar business plan for the US. Any person’s daily life is affected by the existing power structures that do the awful things we are seeing in the news. The work I do happens to directly address some of these issues, but even if it didn’t, my work would always be in context to the world that it exists within.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am exhibiting a collaborative work with Qais Assali at 6018 North in the show Living Architecture, which opens September 3rd and is on view through December 23rd.

Living Architecture is a large-scale, multidisciplinary exhibition, with public programming including performances, tours, workshops, and conversational dinners that highlight the influence and impact of immigrant artists on Chicago. The exhibition responds to the current political climate to highlight how Chicago was built with immigrant labor, particularly in the arts, and is continuously shaped today by exemplary immigrant artists. With over 50 contemporary artists, Living Architecture illustrates a living and evolving legacy between past and present Chicago immigrants’ work in art and design. Living Architecture is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art exploring Chicago’s art and design legacy, with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. Living Architecture is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Living Architecture is co-curated by Teresa Silva and Tricia Van Eck. A variation of Living Architecture will travel to the Chicago Cultural Center May 4, 2019 to July 28, 2019.

I will also have an exhibition in 2019 with ACRE Projects. And stay tuned for future projects happening at Zakaib!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Amanda Assaley

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