Olive Stefanski
And Before One, What Are You Counting?
1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
August 7, 2021 - August 29, 2021

Reception Saturday, August 7 // 6-9
Open Hours Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays 4-7 and by appointment



And Before One, What are you Counting? is a solo exhibition by Olive Stefanski featuring a series of handwoven textiles and vessels that explore the meeting between the astral and the material. In the artist's practice, the laborious processes of weaving, spinning, and dyeing are devotional practices through which they reckon with the existential reality of time and commune with the sacred, the mysterious, and the unknown. Their work asserts an anti-assimilationist perspective that values ancestral, spiritual, and intuitive ways of knowing.

In this exhibition, cosmologies of the creation of the universe and the infinite nature of divinity are explored, inspired by studying Jewish spiritual texts with a feminist, queer, and mystical lens. A monumental weaving, dyed in natural indigo with woven shibori resist technique, contemplates mythologies of the void and primordial watery depths. A meditatively detailed silver and black overshot weaving, crafted with original pattern drafting, channels chaos and the formlessness that existed before all else within the infrastructure of the universe. Both works are handwoven on the floor loom.

Through improvisational tapestry weaving, incessantly repeated dreams provide messages of ancestral grief and the opportunity to transmute and unburden. Purposeful disruptions of the woven structure speak to this journeying: while the weaving is structurally sound, intentional ruptures form the whole. The tapestries are handwoven on frame looms and crafted with handspun and hand dyed yarn, spun on a wheel and drop spindle.



Sculptural vessels are woven with basket reed plant and dyed to a rich midnight blue in a vat of natural indigo that has been nurtured in the artist’s studio for the past year. Each vessel acts as a container/non-container for empty space, that which is invisible but present. These works are inspired by descriptions of the sefirot ( ספירות ) – dimensions of the universe, written about in Jewish mystical texts such as Sefer Yetzirah – ten inscriptions of the void that divine creative force flows through.1 The forms of the baskets reference water-bearing containers, an hourglass, and the mouth of a well. Indigo is a color that evokes depths of all kinds and in all cosmic directions – the sea, the sky, the psychic unconscious, time itself, the humbling mystery unveiled momentarily through contemplation of the infinite. These baskets are the first three of a series of ten that the artist plans to make. In the words of Rabbi Jill Hammer, “the sefirot that we must contemplate are blimah (without substance): they cannot be experienced in the way we experience most things. We have to engage with them differently – not shallowly but at depth. They must be grappled with rather than seen clearly.”2

Through color, pattern, and form, the immanence of the divine is explored in different elemental forms. Jewish mystical thought teaches us that creation is not fixed, but something that is constantly renewed. The erotic queer essence of re-birth and the cyclical nature of time show themselves as integral to the nature of reality, and the ways in which we survive and continue forward.



Olive Stefanski (they/she) is an artist, teacher, and energy worker living in Chicago. They have shown their work,  both solo and collaboratively, at Fundación del Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Mana Contemporary Chicago, Links Hall, Roman Susan, Threewalls, Comfort Station, International Museum of Surgical Science, and Roots and Culture. Their work is held in private collections across the United States. In 2015, they earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, followed by a three-year apprenticeship at the Chicago Weaving School. They currently work as one of two lead artists for the Teen Creative Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. They can be found online @floatyplace and olivestefanski.com.

1 “Ten inscriptions of the void” translation is attributed to Rabbi Jill Hammer, ibid.
2 Rabbi Jill Hammer, Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah (2020), pg. 15.


Christa Donner
Studies for Simultaneous Listening
1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
July 23, 2021 - July 27, 2021

Outdoor Projections Tuesday, July 27 // 8:30-10 PM

Studies for Simultaneous Listening blends the existing soundscape of Roman Susan’s neighborhood with projected video and field recordings imagining the area's ecological past, present, and possible future. These recordings will be part of an audio walking tour guided by non-human inhabitants, currently under development for the nearby West Ridge Nature Park as part of the upcoming Navigations series. Field recordings and projections are activated around dusk each evening at 1224 W Loyola Ave, to be experienced directly in the outdoors.



Christa Donner is an artist, writer, and organizer who investigates the human/animal body and its metaphors. Her practice combines material exploration and social exchange to propose speculative models that move between the emotional architecture of our own bodies and the layered histories of the world we inhabit. Donner's work is exhibited widely, including projects for Gallery 400 (Chicago, USA), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin, Germany), BankArt NYK (Yokohama, Japan); Chiaki Kamikawa Contemporary Art (Paphos, Cyprus); the Museum Bellerive (Zurich, Switzerland), the Centro Columbo Americano (Medellin, Colombia), and throughout the United States. For more information, please visit christadonner.com.



Erika Råberg
Mirror State
1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
June 12, 2021 - June 15, 2021

Outdoor Screening Thursday, June 10 // 9 PM



Mirror State will be projected each afternoon and evening, visible directly from the street at 1224 W Loyola Ave.
This presentation is a part of 2021 Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival.

Erika Råberg is a Swedish-American visual artist and writer who uses both still and moving images to explore the subtle relationships built into her surrounding environments, whether on the farm in rural Sweden which has been in her family since the 1600s or in and around Boston, Massachusetts, where mythologies surrounding the founding of the United States provide rich material. Råberg has shared work widely in Chicago, including at the Elmhurst Art Museum, ACRE Projects, Roman Susan, Chicago Artists Coalition, Sector 2337, High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary, Filter Photo Festival, Ballroom Projects, and the Swedish American Museum. She has also shared work in New York, Boston, and Baltimore, as well as internationally in Stockholm, London, Berlin, and Iceland. For more information, please visit erikaraberg.com.

Onion City is one of the premiere international festivals exclusively devoted to experimental film and video. Onion City was founded in the 1980s by the Experimental Film Coalition and run by them for many years. Chicago Filmmakers assumed responsibility for the festival in 2001, and expanded the size and opened it up to video work as well as film. It is generally 8-10 programs over four days and features roughly 60-70 works from around the world. Aside from the competition programs, there are occasional special presentations of new or old films of note or guest presentations. Screenings take place at Chicago Filmmakers and other venues around mid-June. For more information, please visit onioncityfilmfest.org.



Elena Duque
Colección Privada
1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
June 8, 2021 - June 11, 2021

Outdoor Screening Saturday, June 12 // 9 PM

A filmed inventory of a private collection. That can be understood as a dubious art collection, but also as a compilation in the spirit of philately or archeology, or a series of objects and documents that constitute a kind of sample book of memories. The emotional catalogue of a life transformed, again, in a collectible item.



Colección Privada will be projected each afternoon and evening, visible directly from the street at 1224 W Loyola Ave.
This presentation is a part of 2021 Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival. 

Elena Duque is a Spanish-Venezuelan filmmaker, curator, writer and teacher. As a filmmaker, she has completed several animation and experimental short films, such as Cómo hacer un fanzine, exhibited in the art center CA2M in Madrid, De cara a la galeria, that premiered in Curta 8 (Curitiba, Brasil), La mar salada, programmed in the festivals Transient Visions (New York), Moving (Kioto) and Florida Experimental Film Festival, Pla y Cancela, selected in Verín and D'A in Barcelona, and in the exhibition Cibermujeres in the Neomudéjar Arts Center in Madrid and Valdediós (2019), part of the Official Section of Punto de Vista Festival in Pamplona, and selected in festivals such as London Animation Film Festival, Les Inattendus (Lyon), Milwaukee Undergrounfd Film Festival and Experiments in Cinema. For more information, please visit cargocollective.com/elenaduque.

Onion City is one of the premiere international festivals exclusively devoted to experimental film and video. Onion City was founded in the 1980s by the Experimental Film Coalition and run by them for many years. Chicago Filmmakers assumed responsibility for the festival in 2001, and expanded the size and opened it up to video work as well as film. It is generally 8-10 programs over four days and features roughly 60-70 works from around the world. Aside from the competition programs, there are occasional special presentations of new or old films of note or guest presentations. Screenings take place at Chicago Filmmakers and other venues around mid-June. For more information, please visit onioncityfilmfest.org.



Michael Mac and Amanda Maraist
sounds from another room
1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
June 5, 2021 - June 6, 2021

Performance Saturday and Sunday at 8 PM

sensational memory incorporates some wrong information.
this is our sensational mobility.
realizing you're just playing a game of telephone with the rest of the world
listening to weight 
and listening, waiting.



sounds from another room is a collaboration between Amanda Maraist (movement performance, devising) and Michael Mac (composition and performance). This hour-long performance digs into instinctive somatic responses to sounds, semi-autobiographical soundscapes, and the nonsense of memory.

This live performance is safely viewable through the windows, from the street. Outdoor seating will be available during the performance. Admission is free – we will be gathering food and monetary donations for The Love Fridge Chicago and Rogers Park Food Not Bombs during the show if you find yourself willing and able to donate.



Amanda Maraist is a movement deviser, improviser and performer from the Texas Gulf Coast. She has most recently performed in Chicago with Khecari and Ayako Kato / Art Union Humanscape. She participates in several other collaborative processes with movers, musicians and artists; imagining the body as a sloppy archive and aiming to incite coincidence in performance. Through authentic movement practices and meticulously rendered improvisational scores, she welcomes unwieldy processes with a DIY demeanor. For more information, please visit amandamaraist.com

Michael Mac is a Chicago-based musician, engineer/producer, and founder of Pallet Sound recording studio. He got his start making music with the experimental pop band, Oshwa. His musicianship and engineering can be heard on works by artists such as Tasha, Tenci, Claude, The Curls, The Slaps, Burr Oak, Ester, and many more. His work has appeared on NPR Music, VICE, The FADER, Pitchfork, Stereogum and Consequence of Sound. For more information, please visit michaelmac.org.

sounds from another room Performance Guide (PDF); preview images courtesy of Ash Dye.