RS1 is the first collection shared by Roman Susan, introduced in October 2018 with works donated by Roman Susan directors Kristin and Nathan Abhalter Smith, Ruth Hodgins, Siobhan Leonard, Madhuri Shukla, Polly Yates, and Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson. This first collection includes collage, moving image, painting and drawing, photography, and sculpture created between 1959 and 2018.
Kristin Abhalter Smith | Air Dancer: Ekstasis | Nylon textile with fan | Dimensions Variable | 2017 | RS1–01
Air Dancer: Ekstasis was created by Kristin Abhalter Smith for the July 2017 exhibition EKSTASIS at Demo Project in Springfield, Illinois. This soft sculpture is one of a series of characters evoked as a part of Abhalter Smith’s ongoing visual design opera. The work was donated to Roman Susan by the artist in October 2018. This work requires electricity and may be hosted outdoors.
Kristin Abhalter Smith has an MFA in Technical Theatre and Design from the University of Minnesota, and a background working for Theatre and Film Production. As an individual artist, her installation work was featured in in the Soap Factory’s Art Shanty Project, and her sculpture and painting have been exhibited in Chicago at the Peanut Gallery, Art on Armitage, and elsewhere. Kristin has been a visiting artist at the School of the Art Institute, a teaching artist for Woman Made Gallery, and a tutor at the Howard Area Community Center. Abhalter Smith started Roman Susan in 2012, and has been the creative director of the organization since its incorporation in 2016.
Elston Elston | Transparent Geometrics | Paint on illustration board | 34’’ x 24’’ | 1959-60 | RS1–02
Transparent Geometrics by Elston Elston was painted between the summer of 1959 and the winter of 1960. The work was purchased from the Edgewater Antique Mall in September 2017 by Nathan Abhalter Smith, and donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation in October 2018. This work requires wall mounting.
Elston Elston (1925-2016) earned a Bachelor degree from Yale, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting and sculpture from the University of Chicago. She taught art in Chicago Public Schools from the late 1940s well into the 1980s, beginning at Austin, Waller, Hyde Park, and Sullivan, before landing at Senn High School for the final 29 years of her career. Elston ran her own art academy for 15 years, and exhibited and sold artwork throughout her lifetime. She was a part of the the group of artists and youth who created the bricolage mosaics that adorn the Lake Shore Drive underpasses at Bryn Mawr, Foster, and Belmont, and a large-scale mural created by Elston can be seen at Senn High School. For more information, visit romansusan.org/elston-elston.
Polly Yates | Untitled | Photo collage | 10.75’’ x 9.25’’ | 2013-14 | RS1–03
This work is part of The Landscape Series by Polly Yates, a body of work recontextualizing found travel photographs. Utilizing clean-cut abstraction within familiar, albeit distant photographed scenes, Yates’ repetitive methods draw out subtle estrangements underlying the nature of perception and memory. This work was purchased by Kristin Abhalter in 2015, and donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation by Kristin and Nathan Abhalter Smith in August 2019. This work requires wall mounting.
Polly Yates received her Fine Art Sculpture BA at Wimbeldon School of Art in Surrey, and obtained her Fine Art MA at Central Saint Martins, London. Yates organized FOR THE THUNDERCLOUD GENERATION a transient, artist-run window gallery in Edgewater, Chicago. Yates was a member of the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors from 2016 to 2019 after creating numerous projects with Roman Susan, including a solo exhibition Unhomely (2014) and an artist-led workshop series Draw a line (2014-2015). Yates was a member of the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors from 2016 to 2019.
Joanna Furnans | Genuine Fake Reward | Digital video | 2017 | RS1–04
Genuine Fake Reward was created as a part of the fundraising launch for Genuine Fake – a dance choreographed by Joanna Furnans. The video was first screened at Roman Susan in March 2017, and features Elise Cowin, Tia Greer, Alyssa Gregory, Lindsey Lee, Sarah Ellen Miller, Zachary Nicol, and Amanda Ramirez. The work was donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation by Kristin and Nathan Abhalter Smith in October 2018. This work may be screened once every six months. Screenings should be accompanied by a dinner party featuring a program of video works from local dance artists and a discussion centered around independent dance, live performance, and funding structures in Chicago; the dinner will be organized by the host, the video program and discussion may be organized by Roman Susan.
Joanna Furnans is an independent dance artist based in Chicago. She has performed nationally and internationally in the work of fellow independent dance makers and her own work has been supported by the Walker Art Center, the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Chicago Moving Company and Links Hall. She is co-founder of the Performance Response Journal and a freelance dance writer, contributing to the Windy City Times, Art Intercepts, and See Chicago Dance. Joanna’s practice shows a concern with the multifaceted representation(s) of “self” within the framework of contemporary/experimental dance and traditional performance presentation. Furnans joined the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors in 2020.
Ruth Hodgins | Forest | Ceramic | 9’’ x 5’’ x 5’’ | 2012 | RS1–05
Forest by Ruth Hodgins is ceramic sculpture inspired by European children's construction toys. The work was donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation in July 2019 as a gift from the artist and the host of Hodgins' initial work in the RS1 collection. This work requires assembly by the host.
Ruth Hodgins was born and raised in Scotland, moving to the US to pursue training and education in the contemporary arts. She received her BA from the Glasgow School of Art and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has exhibited at Biennale Internationale de Céramique d'Art, Vallauris, France; Paradox Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Stroud House Gallery, UK. Hodgins is currently an associate curator and archivist at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, overseeing the care, use, and scholarship of the historic Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection. Hodgins joined the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors in 2016.
Siobhan Leonard | Unbound | Digital print of video stills | 2013-2019 | RS1–06
Unbound (Capture Community Revisited & Let Free – Excerpt of October 10, 2013) by Siobhan Leonard originates from a public drawing initiative Capture Community Project undertaken at Roman Susan in October 2013. With 80+ contributors creating a portion of the work, Leonard processed daily collaborative drawings into a nine minute stop-motion video. A new iteration of this project compiles the stills from one day – October 10, 2013 – into a single image. The work was donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation by the artist in October 2018. This work requires wall mounting.
Siobhan Leonard has a BA in Digital Cinema from DePaul University and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an advocate for arts and education, working as a volunteer for grassroots community initiatives and freelancing as an art handler and videographer in her hometown of Benton Harbor, Michigan. Leonard joined the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors in 2017.
Madhuri Shukla | rabbits and rats | Cut paper, acrylic on paper | 2018 | RS1–07
rabbits and rats was created in September 2018 by Madhuri Shukla specifically for inclusion in this collection, honoring two of the prominent creatures of Rogers Park. The work was donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation by the artist in October 2018. This work requires wall mounting.
Madhuri Shukla was born in London, and grew up in Florida. She received a BA in Urban Studies and Fine Art from New College of Florida, and an MA in Theories of Urban Practice at the New School in New York. In Chicago, Shukla was the Managing Director at Chicago Public Art Group. Shukla created two solo exhibitions with Roman Susan – Pedestrian (2013) and Dog Days (2015). Shukla was a member of the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors from 2016 to 2019.
Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson | Dishrag Mnemonic | Dishrag from host's home, cotton, water putty, rock from the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal next to Cook County Jail | Dimensions Variable | 2018 | RS1–08
Dishrag Mnemonic by Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson developed from a previous work Liquid Mothers created for a May 2017 exhibition at St. Charles Projects in Baltimore, Maryland. This ongoing performative sculpture morphs from site to site, rock to home, home to soil. At the conclusion of each hosted period, portions of the work are to be returned to the earth, and then remade for each subsequent hosted location. The work was donated to Roman Susan by the artist in October 2018. This work requires a dishrag donated by the host, wall mounting, and an afternoon spent outside.
Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She teaches photography to teenagers at the Lutz Center for After School Matters, and has taught with many other art institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist Residency, Columbia College's Center for Community Arts Partnerships, ArtReach Chicago, and Johns Hopkins University's Baltimore Youth Film Arts. Along with a variety of collaborative projects between 2014-2018, Anderson created the solo exhibition Qualiascope at Roman Susan in November 2014. Zeleny Anderson was a member of the Roman Susan Art Foundation Board of Directors from 2018 to 2019.
Elizabeth Fiersten and Polly Yates | Paper Plate Series, Floor Piece Nº 1 | Powder coated steel | 16” x 21.5” x 19.5” | 2018 | RS1–03–D2019
Paper Plate Series, Floor Piece Nº 1 was created by The House of Frankie Lou, a collaboration between Elizabeth Fiersten (Manifold) and Polly Yates (numbskullduggery). Their functional sculpture line made its debuted at NeoCon 2018. This work was deaccessioned back to the artists in August 2019 at their request; the work was replaced in the collection at that time by an untitled photo collage created by Yates from a body of work examining landscape and travel photography.
Elizabeth Fiersten is a co-owner and operator of Manifold, a studio that has been designing and producing refined metal furniture, sculpture, and accessories since 1999. Manifold houses a manufacturing workshop and storefront gallery at 4426 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago. The direct connection between the workshop and the gallery reinforces Manifold's guiding mission: to overtly preserve the link from the object presented to the process of its crafting.
Ruth Hodgins | Swan | Digital video | 2015 | RS1–05–D2019
Swan by Ruth Hodgins is a digital video filmed on the grounds of the Milngavie Community Library and Education Centre in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. The work was first screened as a part of the Streetlight silent video series at Roman Susan in April 2015, and then shown in the current 4 minute version with sound design by Kit Rosenberg in the exhibition Nothing Named Nine Times in August 2015. The work was donated to Roman Susan Art Foundation by the artist in October 2018. The video will be delivered with a Sony Trintron Monitor and DVD player, and plays on a loop. This work was deaccessioned to the first community host at the request of the artist; the work was replaced in the collection at that time by a ceramic sculpture created by Hodgins in 2012.