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Daisy Chain: Mapping Connections Between Artists, their Ideas and Creative Work

Ruth Leonela Buentello, Abigail DeVille, Hubert Massey, Shanna Merola, Scott Northrup, David Opdyke, Shani Peters, Sheida Soleimani, Jeffrey Augustine Songco

Premieres on our YouTube channel June 30 at noon. Pre-register here and we'll send you an email reminder.

From the creators of House Calls, Daisy Chain is a series of short vignettes documenting the candid and illuminating perspectives of 9 national and regional artists during this time of re-emergence. The name refers to the traditional string of daisies threaded together by their stems, as well as the contemporary wiring scheme by the same name used in electronics and engineering.  
For this Daisy Chain, nine regional and national artists with diverse experiences, perspectives, and practices were each interviewed by Institute for the Humanities Curator Amanda Krugliak. Each of them was asked the same series of questions: How do you feel you are emerging from the past year? What kind of world are you trying to build for the future? How are you thinking about responsiveness and responsibility? Are there any creative strategies you have identified moving forward?

Their answers—along with images of their work—have been “strung together” visually in video format, one artist connecting to another in sequence.
In this time of re-entry, when we are cautiously emerging from a year in isolation, and also merging back into action at breakneck speed, Daisy Chain offers the opportunity for contemplation in its assemblage of artists, art, and ideas. It explores the ties that bind us, the past and the future, and the loose ends. Perhaps as important, it alludes to surprising and new combinations, and a renewed capacity to find joy.

Ruth Leonela Buentello
Ruth Leonela Buentello is a visual artist and arts educator from San Antonio, TX. Her artistic practice is rooted in painting and often bridges other media, including community-arts and collaborative installations. Her work centers on representations from her Xicanx identity, class, gender and family relationships. Buentello received her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is working on her masters from Maine College of Arts. She is also a recipient of  the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors grant. 

Abigail DeVille
Abigail DeVille is best known for her large scale installations. Often incorporating found materials from the neighborhoods around the exhibition venues, DeVille's sculptures and installations often explore the history of racist violence, gentrification and lost regional history. Her work also incorporates performance elements that brings the artwork out of its exhibition space and into the streets; DeVille has organized these public events, which she calls "processionals," in several US cities, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New York City. DeVille earned a BFA at the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MFA at Yale. She also attended the Pratt Institute and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Hubert Massey
Hubert Massey is a Michigan artist whose distinctive fresco murals grace the halls of such visible Michigan destinations as the Detroit TCF Center, Flint Institute of the Arts, Detroit Athletic Club, and his alma mater, Grand Valley State University, where he earned an honorary doctorate of fine arts in 2012. Hubert studied at the University of London’s Slade Institute of Fine Arts and later learned the centuries-old fresco technique from former assistants of legendary artist Diego Rivera. He is one of only a few African American artists painting in the true buon fresco style.

Shanna Merola
Shanna Merola is a visual artist, photojournalist, and legal worker. In addition to her studio practice, she has been a human rights observer during political uprisings across the country—from the struggle for water rights in Detroit and Flint, MI to the frontlines of Ferguson, MO and Standing Rock, ND. Her collages and constructed landscapes are informed by these events. Merola lives in Detroit, where she facilitates Know-Your-Rights workshops and coordinates legal support for grassroots organizations through the National Lawyers Guild. Merola holds an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Scott Northrup
Scott Northrup is a multimedia artist, writer, curator, and educator who has exhibited with museums, galleries, film and design festivals, and alternative spaces in North America and Europe. Northrup is an associate professor and chair of the film and photography programs at College for Creative Studies, and is on the advisory board for the AAFF and the curatorial team for the next installment of Dlectricity. He earned an MA in media studies from The New School, and a BFA from Center for Creative Studies.

David Opdyke
David Opdyke is a draughtsman, sculptor, and animator known for his trenchant political send-ups of American culture. Born in Schenectady, NY in 1969, he graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in painting and sculpture. His work is informed by the massive industrial and corporate restructuring he witnessed growing up, namely the abandonment of the city center by manufacturing giants General Electric and ALCO. For 20 years Opdyke worked as a scenic painter and architectural model-maker. Ranging from intricate miniature constructions to room-sized installations, his artwork explores globalization, consumerism, and civilization’s abusive relationship with the environment.

Shani Peters
Shani Peters is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New Orleans, LA. She holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MFA from the City College of New York. Her practice encompasses activism histories, community building, media subversion, and the creation of accessible imaginative experiences. Informed by historical research, Peters’ prints, collages, installations, and videos consistently welcome viewers to involve themselves with the work. Her studio practice overlaps with her public, project-based, and collaborative work, in which she pushes to create environments and experiences that offer respite from painful realities—opportunities for collective momentum, learning and joy.

Sheida Soleimani
Sheida Soleimani resides in Providence, RI and is a professor of studio art at Brandeis University. Soleimani makes work that melds sculpture, performance, film and photography to highlight her critical perspectives on historical and contemporary sociopolitical events across the Middle East. The daughter of political refugees who were persecuted by the Iranian government, Soleimani focuses on media trends and the dissemination of information in the news, adapting images from popular press and social media leaks to exist within alternative scenarios. She received a BFA from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco
Jeffrey Augustine Songco is a multidisciplinary artist whose artwork explores the complexity of self-portraiture. As a gay American man of Filipino ethnicity, Songco’s artwork is a place of representation—an opportunity to perform and playfully cast himself as the protagonist of a postcolonial queer narrative. Born and raised in New Jersey to devout Catholic Filipino immigrants, his artistic identity developed at a young age with training in classical ballet, voice, and musical theater. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. After living in Pittsburgh, Bushwick, and San Francisco, he currently lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This project is supported by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Daisy Chain Artist Curation by Amanda Krugliak
Concept by Juliet Hinely and Amanda Krugliak
Production and Editing by Juliet Hinely
Daisy Chain logo by Laura Koroncey