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Commodification of Modernism

  • Curators: Folayemi Wilson and Norman Teague

Conversation Leads: Lynne and Ty McDaniel


This convening and exhibition consider how the

potential for market value changes the ways we

collect. What is it about modernism that has caught

the imagination of design aficionados and collectors

and elevated its aesthetic to elite, enduring status?

Person Name: David Brown Object Name: Blocks and Stripes, 2004 and Blocks and Stripes, 2003. Maker: Irene Williams Materials: Cotton blend, polyester double knot Dimensions: 0.5 x 12 x 10in. Provenance: Ordered book online.

- David Brown, West Loop

Blocks and Stripes, 2004 by Irene Williams

I’m interested in the quilts. I first saw some of them in Houston.

Person Name: Eric Hotchkiss Object Name: Wu-Tang Forever Maker: Terrance Tatum Materials: Steel Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 5in. Provenance: Created at CVCA (formerly CVS High School).

- Eric Hotchkiss, Englewood

Wu-Tang Forever by Terrance Tatum

Person Name: Janet Dees Object Name: Appetizer dish Maker: unknown Materials: plastic Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.25 x 6.75in. Provenance: I bought it in a vintage store in Evanston, Illinois. I don't know who made it or where it originated.

- Janet Dees, Rogers Park

Appetizer dish

This is one of about 16 dishes I have collected, in different colors, across different vintage shops in the Chicago area over the last couple years. I first bought six in yellow and then began to see them in different stores.

This is emblematic of my obsession with collecting vintage glassware, dishes, and serving items. I am a curator and art historian by profession, but when it comes to collecting things for my home I like to do it more intuitively rather than taking the approach of a scholar or connoisseur.

Partially because it is representative of the type of things I collect, and it also was portable—and sturdy—not in danger of breaking like the glass and porcelain items in my collection.

Person Name: Layne
Jackson Object Name: Kiwanis International Paper Weight Maker: Unknown Materials: Glass, velvet, floss Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 3in. Provenance: It came from my grandfather's closet. I know he was a lifelong member of the Kiwanis as well as other more secretive groups.

- Layne Jackson, Ukranian Village

Kiwanis International paperweight

It represents the mysteries that my elder relatives carried. Their world was understanding DNA and space for the first time.

I realized that I have kept it in order to keep my family close as have moved. It speaks to my 6-year-old self.

Person Name: Lindsay Austin Object Name: Robot Maker: Hans (made in China) Materials: Plastic Dimensions: 2 x 1 x 1in. Provenance: At a small market while traveling domestically (U.S.)

- Lindsay Austin, Bronzeville


When I purchased this object, it caught my attention based on the wind up function and being a robot.

It represents simplicity and interaction in a playful way.

Person Name: Lynne McDaniel Object Name: Pepper Grinder Maker: Dansk Materials: Tea Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 3in. Provenance: An Orange Moon Gallery

- Lynne McDaniel, Kenwood

Pepper Grinder

Acquired at a Hyde Park estate sale.

- Maggie Taft, Unknown

Photographer Baseball Card

The photographer Arthur Siegel is a favorite of mine. Typically we think of artists as serious creatures but this photographer baseball card project by Mike Mandel offers a nod to the humanness of artists and a play on how art and artists are collected. In his photograph and the ‘stats’ on the card’s back, Siegel embraces playfulness and runs with it.

It speaks directly to tonight’s conversation about modernism (Siegel) and collecting (baseball cards).

- Pablo Celorio, Bronzeville

Chess Horse

I bought it from Lynne McDaniel, while I was working one of her estate sales. She is one of my first friends I made in Chicago.

I don't collect objects, but this one is very representative since before I got it, it kind of called me like Jumangi.

- Renata Graw, Bucktown

Time to Process

I made this clock to remind me that time is fleeting. A meditative I eject about time itself. Always moving.

It reminds me that every object is human made.

- Zala Langston, Aubrun Gresham


African art as modern historical sculptures that inspire modern artwork today.

About the Quotes

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