Commons Artist Project: blkHaUS studios

Nature and Social Justice in Twenty-First Century Cities


Curators: William Hill, artist and educator
Conversation Leads: Ann Lui, cofounder of Future Firm


The art of collecting is a way of establishing connections to objects on a personal and social level. Many of the objects collected here were based on the natural environment and personal journeys between the object and the collector. Overall, collectors’ insights united around meaningful experiences and reflected a shared sense of place, time, intergenerational connections, and projections of the global future.

The twenty-first century has allowed for an impetus, movement, or shift in collecting. New spaces that challenge institutional forums have surfaced and allow for the interjection of formally nuanced, silenced voices. These voices question traditional ways of collecting.

— William Hill, curator

Below are the collectors' words—unedited—about their objects.

Featured image

Person Name: Adero Knott
Object Name: Love Pyramid
Maker: Merchant outside of pyramids in Egypt
Materials: Rose Quartz, Amethyst and Blue Apatite
Dimensions: 2.75 × 3 × 2.75in.
Provenance: The Great Pyramids of Giza

Adero Knott, West Loop
Love Pyramid

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Person Name: Aharon Bennoah
Object Name: Steampunk medallion

Aharon Bennoah, South Shore
Steampunk medallion

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Person Name: Anayansi Ricketts
Object Name: Zen Garden Transformation
Maker: Anayansi Ricketts (self)
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: 6 × 0.05 × 9in.
Provenance: I took the photos and wrote the poetry, and the conversations

Anayansi Ricketts, South Shore
Zen Garden Transformation

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Person Name: Angelique Grandone
Object Name: beaver log
Maker: Beavers
Materials: Wood
Dimensions: 4 × 28 × 4in.
Provenance: A Lake Michigan beach, likely brought on the waves from elsewhere nearby

Angelique Grandone, Humboldt Park
Beaver log

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Person Name: Camille Applewhite
Object Name: Shale stones (pieces)
Maker: Nature
Materials: shale
Dimensions: 2.5 × 2 × 2in.
Provenance: My office desk. Unsure. Assuming a landscape/ landscape supply

Camille Applewhite, Bridgeport
Shale stones

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Person Name: David Toledo
Object Name: Faerie Gathered
Maker: Momma Nature
Materials: Nature—seeds, water, light, earth, air, and farmer
Dimensions: 0 × 0 × 0in.
Provenance: July, 2019
The flowers have always been mine. It was grown in Wild Hollow Farm in Ashland, Wisconsin

David Toledo, Noble Square
Faerie Gathered

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Person Name: Inez Suen
Object Name: Bowl
Maker: Inez Suen
Materials: wood fire stoneware
Dimensions: 2.25 × 5.25 × 5.25in.
Provenance: I made it

Inez Suen, New City
Bowl by Inez Suen, 1998

Featured images

Person Name: Matisse Searle
Object Name: Parking lot wood chunk
Maker: I have no idea!
Materials: wood, stone
Dimensions: 11 × 3 × 1 in.
Provenance: I bought it … why? I thought it was beautiful

Matisse Searle, Woodlawn
Parkling lot wood chunk

Featured images

Person Name: Robert Carr
Object Name: Tree bark
Maker: Myself
Provenance: From a tree that is in my yard

Robert Carr, New City
Tree bark

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Person Name: Terrance Miller
Object Name: Global Trailblazer by Commercial Awards Manufacturer, 2001
Maker: Commercial Awards
Dimensions: 2.5 × 2.5 × 2.5in

Terrance Miller, Woodlawn
Global Trailblazer by Commercial Awards Manufacturer, 2001