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In Progress: Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz

About the Event

photograph of two people draped in long green capes facing a mountainous desert landscape
A person stands on a path lined with tall grasses holding a large red shroud over their head
Portrait of Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz

Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz

Interdisciplinary artists Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz present an in-progress showing of their multimedia performance The Shallow Sky. The work includes video vignettes created in and around Las Vegas, original text, and music by the contemporary ensemble Eighth Blackbird. The artists journey through gypsum tailings, wetlands, planned communities, abandoned railroad tunnels, and the aging ballroom of a fraternal order as an allegory to examine the impacts of human attempts at environmental control. The Shallow Sky was developed with residency support from Rogers Art Loft/Rogers Foundation.

In Progress is a series designed to give artists, thinkers, and curators a platform for developing new works with input from audiences, and to give patrons a glimpse into the creative process. This program is organized by Laura Paige Kyber, Curatorial Assistant with the Performance and Public Practice team.

About the Artists

Susy Bielak is an artist and writer who draws upon encounters in daily life to speak to larger human concerns including history, migration, displacement, and the relationship between domestic life and disaster. With a practice centered in drawing and language, she works across media including installation, performance, photography, printmaking, and video. Bielak's work has been collected and exhibited widely, including by the International Print Center, Museo Tamayo, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and Walker Art Center, and published in Art Papers, Poetry Magazine, and New American Paintings. She was a 2020-21 BOLT artist-in-residence at Chicago Artists Coalition, and is a 2022 Spudnik Press artist-in-residence. Together with Fred Schmalz, Bielak is an ongoing artist-in-residence at Grand Central Art Center, with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Fred Schmalz is an artist and poet whose debut poetry collection, Action in the Orchards (Nightboat Books), responds to encounters with dance, music, and visual art. His recent writing has appeared in The Canary, Poetry, Conduit, and Oversound. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Grand Central Art Center in his ongoing art collaboration with Susy Bielak, Balas & Wax. He was poet-in-residence for the LA Philharmonic's 2018 FluxConcert in its season-long fluxus festival. In 2017, he collaborated with Lou Mallozzi on “Tracking Shots” for the MCA's 50th Anniversary celebration. He lives in Chicago, where he co-curates the Poetry & Biscuits reading series.


The In Progress series is supported by The New Works Initiative which puts the creative process at the heart of the MCA’s relationship with Chicago by supporting the development of new performances and creative projects.

Lead support for the New Works Initiative is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.