March 2019 Artist in Residence: Isabelle Frances McGuire

Bio art by Isabelle Frances McGuire

Bio art by Isabelle Frances McGuire


LATITUDE is excited to welcome Isabelle Frances McGuire as its March Artist In Residence!

Portrait of the artist.

Portrait of the artist.

Isabelle Frances McGuire was born in Austin, Texas. They currently live and work out of Chicago, Illinois and graduated with a BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They recently completed a residency at Alternative Worksite, founded by Linda Burnham and supported by the Robert Overby Estate. Past solo exhibitions include, I’m a Cliché, Prairie, Chicago (2017). Selected group exhibitions include: At the End of the Game You Will Be Forgotten, Alyssa Davis Gallery, New York City (2018); Flat Earth Film Festival, Seyðisförður, Iceland (2018); Let Me Be an Object that Screams, Gallery 400, Chicago (2017)

McGuire’s Residency at LATITUDE is proudly supported by MOAB Paper.

Q&A of Isabelle Frances McGuire, interviewed by Noëlle Pouzar

Bio art by Isabelle Frances McGuire

Bio art by Isabelle Frances McGuire

You’ve mentioned creating a zine about the history of women artists in bio art. What adversities do you see women artists experiencing in this field?

My goals in making that zine would be to broaden the definition of bio art. One of the f***ed up things about bio art as a genre is that in most cases for a piece to be classified as bio art, it must tools that comes from a laboratory. Equipment for that kind of work is outrageously expensive, and can only be worked with the knowledge that is equally expensive to obtain in education. In my opinion, the term bio art should more broadly relate to the conceptual ideas of biotechnology and addressing concepts of the human/gender instead of directly needing to use materials that require an intense science background.

Everyone has access to biological material like bacteria, cells, and tissue and what is defined as science should never be contained to universities. Once you open up that idea and put fewer limitations on what it means to be making bio art, I think it lets other people put themselves into new contexts and new ways of thinking about making art. I wanted to do the same thing with the term women and broaden the definition, so more people feel comfortable identifying with individuals in this history. My intention is that women would mean more of the performance of femininity instead of directly relating to the body. It would include trans women, non-trans women and non-conforming people who perform she when they feel like it. Being able to look at a history book and see someone that resembles you or is interested in the same ideas as you is so important; It’s a really quick way to let people confidently participate in a conversation.

Another reason I wanted to make something like this was so that I could find people who were interested in similar things to me and I could form relationships with them. :)

The manipulation of materials feels essential to your practice. Walk us through your process of choosing items like dead dough, plastic, and sugar to craft your pieces.

All of my materials are from recipes I’ve found online. I’m interested in using food materials that have been extensively altered by human hands and ideas. I really like that relationship. It directly references the blurred border between the human and the world and kind of annihilates that imaginary line. I use products that are embedded with histories of ideas and then meant to be consumed and put back into a body.

An example of this is isomalt sugar. It is a genetically engineered beet sugar explicitly created to not spike insulin in the body. It is one of those "guilt free" sweetness. It interesting though, that one of the byproducts of its genetic makeup is that it became extremely easy to sculpt and mold. And because of that, it was adopted by the food craft community, and now there are a bunch of craft tutorials, youtube videos, and forums on how to use isomalt. The knowledge of how to use this material became a part of the crafts world collective consciousness online. Accessible information is crucial to how most of my pieces are made and materials are chosen.

How do you approach the relationship between writing and photography in your work?

Stories, especially science fiction, have had a significant impact on my work. Recently, I have been writing instructional plays that are acted out with the intention of making images. These plays create two separate pieces: one piece is the performance that takes place, the other is the images that come out of it. The pictures I make are fiction, or there is fiction influencing the way I approach them.

Images from the play H+ by Isabelle Frances McGuire

Images from the play H+ by Isabelle Frances McGuire

What are you working on during your residency at LATITUDE?

I’m going to be working on printing images from a play that I wrote titled H+, a series of shrinky dink images, and releasing a book of recipes that I use to make art.

As a Chicago-based artist, what places do you recommend people go check out?

I spend a lot of time at the library so I would recommend the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, the Harold Washington, and the Flaxman. For looking at art, I go the Renaissance Society, Prairie, and Mickey. All fun. Other recommendations are the Garfield Park Conservatory, PopKTV for karaoke because they have Bjork, EK Housewares and Gifts in Chinatown. QXY for dumplings, Tank Noodle for pho, and Gene and Judes for hot dogs.

What’s in your Netflix queue right now?

Right now I’m watching Fooly Cooly but its on Adult Swim not netflix.

View more of Isabelle’s work.

February 2019 Artist in Residence: Robert Chase Heishman

Image from Heishman’s series AWARE, 2018

Image from Heishman’s series AWARE, 2018


LATITUDE is excited to welcome Robert Chase Heishman as its February Artist In Residence!

Portrait of the artist.

Portrait of the artist.

Robert Chase Heishman is an artist whose practice is wide-ranging. He lives and works in Chicago. Informed by his work as a set designer, Heishman approaches photography spatially, treating the threshold of the photograph similar to a theater proscenium. His work ruminates on the architecture of the image and point of view, often utilizing the forced perspective of the camera to build elaborate tableaux. He holds his MFA in Studio Art from Northwestern University (2012), and BFA in Photography and Art History from the Kansas City Art Institute (2008). He has collaborated with a number of artists, notably Merce Cunningham (Dance Company), Sigur Rós, Radiohead, and Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz.

His work has been exhibited and/or screened at McIntosh Gallery (London, ON), The Tetley (Leeds, UK), H&R Block Artspace and Paragraph Gallery (Kansas City), Propeller Centre for Visual Arts (Toronto, ON), Open Space (Baltimore, MD), Goldmine (Pittsburgh, PA), and widely around Chicago at ADDS DONNA, Sullivan Galleries, LVL3, Roots & Culture, Document, Chicago Manual Style, Gallery 400, and Johalla Projects. Grants, awards, and residencies include LATITUDE Chicago's Artist In Residence program in February 2019, the 2016 Silver Eye Editions from Silver Eye Center for Photography (Pittsburgh), 2015 project grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. His work is in the permanent collections of the BNY Mellon Collection, Walker Art Center, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Heishman’s Residency at LATITUDE is proudly supported by Canson Infinity Paper.

Q & A

What are you curious about?

As an author of photographic images, I'm engaged in a process of translating something real into something representational and flat. I'm forever curious about this translation of an embodied point of view to a singular, mechanical point of view. The shift of the fullness of an experience into an image-form is like grappling with the loss on an eye. This compels me to enrich the sensation of my photographs so that I construct and embed them with content that assists viewers in seeing and feeling an image more robustly.

In your project, Indefinite Free Time, how do you go about setting up the compositions for your still lifes?

I work from reference images of artworks by Guantanamo Bay detainees, generally shot on the cell phones of their lawyers. These reference shots are used to source materials and begin assembling the compositions in my studio. As is the case with most of my work, the construction of the image hinges on aligning all the objects so that the arrangement flattens out pictorially in the camera. The last step is designing the lighting so that it matches the referential artwork's depth and emotion.

What influences outside of the arts inspire your approach to making work?

I am more often than not inspired by stories that I read or listen to. A few years ago, I did preliminary research for a future project about man-made earthquakes happening in Oklahoma. I had read an article that talked about the fracking industry and how Oklahoma has been rocked by earthquakes as high as 5.4 magnitude. Man-made earthquakes causing damage to the earth and people's homes felt like such an emblem of what is happening to our planet due to the greed of capitalism. I felt compelled to make something about this, so I drove down to Oklahoma to try to experience an earthquake. Though I never experienced one over the course of a few days driving around the state, I was able to conduct interviews and take some reference photographs while I was down there. For me, being an artist is like being an experimental documentarian. My approach is to try to experience the thing and find how best to translate the experience.

Image from Heishman’s series AWARE, 2018

Image from Heishman’s series AWARE, 2018


Tell us about the collection, Private Birthday Party. How did finding these rare slideshow images that document mid-century queer spaces evolve into a collaborative research initiative?

Private Birthday Party came about purely by chance. I was working on a project in my undergraduate days at the Kansas City Art Institute and happened to go to a scrapyard to look for objects that told a story. Among all the scrap metal and junk was a slide carrousel containing photographs of drag balls in Kansas City. The date stamped on the slides ranged from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Independently of me, and about a year or so later, my dear friend Michael Boles found another set of slides. It wasn't until I was graduating from my masters program at Northwestern University that Michael and I pieced together our slide collections, realizing that we both had photographs of the same people from the same queer parties of the mid-century, in middle America. We founded Private Birthday Party as an independent research initiative so we could begin identifying individuals in the photographs and who the photographer may have been. Many of the people connected to the era of the PBP material are getting quite old and we are preserving their stories by conducting oral and video interviews, with the help of our friend, director Kevin Schowengerdt. With 6+ years of research conducted, I am pleased to say we are finally on the heels of producing a book.

What will you be working on during your residency at LATITUDE?

I will primarily be developing my project AWARE by making prints onto adhesive material and collaging those prints into a physical space. I will also be printing new works from Indefinite Free Time, scanning slides and other found negatives from Private Birthday Party, and will inevitably be inspired to start another project while in the lab.

Are there any books, movies, magazines or podcasts that you recommend readers check out?

We consume an abundance of information these days, so this is a hard one for me. I would recommend meditating with the app Headspace – it's been helping me navigate life and art making. Recently, I have been revisiting an exhibition catalog of the collaborative practice of Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler called 'America Starts Here'. Their work has always had great resonance with me; this book in particular is one that travels with me to all my studios as it is a reminder of what art is capable of.

View more of Robert’s work.