An upward spiral

Young artists display their work

11/17/2012 7:10 PM

By Bill Motchan

4 Comments - Add Your Comment


UIC Spiral Workshop student teachers Valerie White (left) and Jess Rogawski with the result of their group: a piece of artwork displayed on the floor through an entire room on the 5th floor of the Cuppa Hal display.



Olivia Gude (left), director of the UIC Spiral Art program and student artist Tafka Baez with her artwork.

I never cared much for math or science class in high school. I was drawn more toward writing and art. Perhaps it’s hereditary. My mom was an accomplished painter, my dad a great portrait photographer.

The point is, some people are better suited to art. Unfortunately, our education system doesn’t always give them as much of an opportunity to pursue a creative outlet.

These deep thoughts crept into my mind this afternoon as I walked through a unique art exhibit at the UIC Spiral Workshop 2012 at Cuppa Hall in the West Loop at 400 S. Peoria. The exhibit is free and open to the public on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 19-20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It’s a great exhibit and well worth a visit. The art on display is thought-provoking and visually interesting. The program itself is also a pretty cool story.

“This is the 18th, and final year, of the Spiral Workshop,” said Olivia Gude, director of the program since its inception. “It’s kind of nostalgic.”

Alas, the Spiral Workshop has fallen victim to a sign of the times, lack of funding.

Gude said the program accepts 100 high school students from all over Chicago, and gives them an outlet for artistic, creative freedom. It also benefits UIC art students, who serve as student teachers during the Spiral Workshop.

“They’re nearly guaranteed to get teaching positions, in part through the experience they gained during this program,” Gude said.

I spoke with Spiral Workshop student teachers and students at the exhibit opening today, and they clearly have a passion for art and expressing their vision.

“Students need to have the freedom to investigate creativity,” said Christine Anderson, a student teacher in the “silent group.” Each group of 18 students was assigned a theme to help them express their feelings through art. The silent group studied works by Yoko Ono, Alan Kaprow and other artists who experimented with a medium known as fluxus, or art that is always in flux.

Tafka Baez, a senior at Jones College Prep and an artist in the “trace” group, explained to me how she and the other students in her group created art by listening to a recording of a heartbeat, and let their creativity run wild.

“We all sat on the ground in the middle of a huge piece of paper and we listened to the sounds and traced around the paper what we were feeling,” Baez said.

The Spiral Workshop has developed many working artists since it began in 1995. They include professional artists and many teachers. Olivia Gude has also been the voice of the unique art education program, speaking to groups from Canada to Copenhagen.

“The kids love it, and it’s exciting to see the work they do,” Gude said. “There’s no reason art in schools can’t be formulated into a better curriculum.”

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By Sheldon & Beverly Shabansky from St Louis, MO
Posted: 11/22/2012 12:09 PM

He never ceases to amaze us. Bill has a knack of taking any subject and making it very interesting. Hope to read more of his blogs in the future.



By Bill Motchan from West Loop
Posted: 11/19/2012 8:20 PM

Sorry, Christine! All fixed.



By Christine Anderson from Pilsen
Posted: 11/19/2012 6:45 PM

Bill, This is Christine- whom you interviewed in the Spiral Show. I was a teacher for the Silence group. I saw your article, it looks great! However, I noticed a miscommunication. My full name is Christine Anderson, not Christine Andrews. Thank you, Christine Anderson



By Christine Anderson from Pilsen
Posted: 11/19/2012 6:45 PM

Bill, This is Christine- whom you interviewed in the Spiral Show. I was a teacher for the Silence group. I saw your article, it looks great! However, I noticed a miscommunication. My full name is Christine Anderson, not Christine Andrews. Thank you, Christine Anderson