After a year of pandemic uncertainty and separation, the Evanston Terrain Biennale arts festival’s theme, Keep in Touch, is about connecting artists with one another and with their communities.
The Terrain Biennale runs from October 1st to November 15th and features 23 unique art installations in different neighborhoods. This year, Evanston’s exhibitions are part of a coalition of 51 locations around the world that display artwork. Terrain was founded by the late artist Sabina Ott and aims to put local art in the spotlight.
The festival provides artists with unique locations to display their art, including street corners, front gardens and public walls. Yeefah Thurman, owner of Dropn Pearls Hair Artistry, said she loved the idea of bringing art to the public. Her piece, an interactive library box, tells a story of how white propaganda fuels anti-black sentiment.
“The purpose of (my) play is to encourage conversation … and promote racial healing,” Thurman said. “If my advocacy were segregated in some kind of high-end art gallery, who would the message really reach?”
Thurman, who comes from a long line of civil rights activists, said advocacy is important to their work. Art gives her a platform to share stories from marginalized communities, she said.
On October 3rd, Terrain at 1100 Florence Ave. a public viewing of Thurman’s works. The artist remembered witnessing a particularly heartwarming reaction to her work.
“On the front of my piece is a mirror that says, ‘Look at yourself, what do you see?” Said Thurman. “A little girl came by with her mom and said, ‘Look, mom, I can see myself!'”
The audience is only half the equation: Terrain also gives artists the freedom to explore it. Kathy Halper’s sculptures entitled “Dog Park” show three dogs talking to each other as neighbors. Halper said her art aims to encourage people to recognize their humanity and bring neighborhoods together.
Terrain was one of the first times Halper played with sculpture.
“(Sculpture work) was a new thing for me,” said Halper. “I learned so much doing these three. Now I really have the feeling that I understand how to do it. “
The art of Natan Diacon-Furtado also includes experimentation. His final display is a product of a collaboration – after creating 11 intricate postcards inspired by the global patternmaking of the South, he sent his art to local artists Alice George and Shawn Decker who created the display.
Since his postcards are presentable in any direction and order, the end product is the result of the arrangement of George and Decker. The piece is featured at 1324 Ashland Ave.
“Alice and Shawn get (the postcards) and can choose how they are presented to the world; it’s like your curation and my piece, ”said Diacon-Furtado. “There aren’t many places where artists collaborate with their venue.”
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