With work by: Abena Motaboli, Lucia Calderon Arrieta, Ryn Osbourne, and Olive Stefanski
We are fluid beings, filled with energy that cycles through the mind and body, just as water dissipates and returns to its original source, changing forms. Artists Abena Motaboli, Lucia Calderon, Olive Stefanski, and Ryn Osbourne engage with water as material, and as an essential transformative force, a psychic metaphor, and container for movement.
In Confluence, the artists seek transformation through their work, engaging with water as a space of intimacy and transcendence. Through labor- intensive, meditative processes, including dyeing, staining, stitching, rinsing, and weaving, the artists bring their metaphysical explorations into reality for the viewer to experience, creating space for new understandings to emerge and finding wholeness from many parts. Many of these processes involve water as a means to transform or create the object.
Confluence is grounded in the artists’ exploration of their vulnerabilities and offers a contribution to the conversation on process and materiality.
Abena Motaboli is a Southern African born educator, visual artist, and writer based in Chicago. She grew up in Lesotho, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, before moving to the U.S, where she obtained her bachelor's degree in Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago and at L'institut Catholique de Paris in Paris, France.
Her practice is interdisciplinary, performative, and experimental. She is inspired by plants, nature, and our living world. Motaboli finds joy in using pigments of the earth, working with flowers, learning about the plants around her, and creating art from ephemeral materials. She is also interested in tracing the route of colonialism through plants such as tea, coffee, and dandelions, while deeply listening to them. Her use of tea stems back to her childhood, where she grew up surrounded by numerous tea ceremonies and storytelling with visitors over tea.
With a strong commitment to social justice work in the South and West sides of Chicago and being an immigrant, her artwork comments on displacement, immigration, the African diaspora, and the loss of the sense of home. She invites the audience to find a space to contemplate through installation, abstract work, or through vivid bright colors in mural work.
She has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibits such as SOFA Chicago, Bhavan Gallery based in London, Woman Made Gallery, DIFFA Pop-Up Gold Coast Gallery, and Aqua Art Miami to name a few, her work is also placed in private collections throughout the U.S. This spring, she has a few poems published with Northeastern Illinois University’s SEEDS Literary and Visual Arts Journal.
Lucia learned to sew from Abuelita and learned to call it fiber art from Academia.
Lucia Calderon Arrieta (she/they) is a fiber artist + anti-racist educator residing in the traditional unceded lands of the Potowatomi, Peoria, Miami, Ojibwe, and Oglala Sioux (So-called Chicago). They investigate boundaries of identity through depicting emotional blobs and using skin conditions like bruising and eczema as metaphors for trauma held in a racialized body. Their most recent body of work is inspired by undersea ecosystems that find balance though constant flux. Their bruised soft sculptures become denizens of the deepest, most pressurized, darkest crevasses, yet find their way through these waters by creating alternate systems of nourishment and touch.
Calderon Arrieta holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from Birmingham-Southern College. They have worked as an educator in many capacities, including their current roles at The Art Institute of Chicago and Lillstreet Art Center. They previously held roles as part-time lecturer at Chicago State University, teaching artist at the Allied Media Conference, and facilitator for incarcerated artists with the Youth Arts Alliance!. Calderon Arrieta has shown work in venues including The Hyde Park Arts Center (Chicago, IL), the South Haven Art Center (South Haven, MI), Durbin Gallery (Birmingham, AL), Flophouse Gallery (Berkeley, MI), and SOFA 2014 (Chicago, IL).
Ryn Osbourne (she/her) is a Chicago based artist and arts administrator. In her work, she confronts and expresses complex and intimate emotions through an intuitive, movement-driven, cyanotype process.
From 2015-2017 she was a member of MINT Collective in Columbus, OH working and exhibiting with a collective of artists out of a former meat packing warehouse and experimenting with the cyanotype process. In 2016, she took part in a residency, "Dark Matter," at Port Gallery in New Orleans, and was strongly influenced by intuitive drawing exercises led by artist Heather Hansen. In 2020, she completed the Hyde Park Art Center's Bridge Program where she began writing short poetic texts corresponding with her prints.
Ryn has exhibited at The Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, IL) as part of the Bridge Program, City Center Gallery ( Columbus, OH), Satellite Contemporary (Las Vegas, NV), and has been commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH). Her work is in private collections in Chicago, IL.
Olive Stefanski (they or she) is a queer Jewish artist and teacher who makes weavings currently inspired by Jewish mystical texts and practices related to cosmology and creation, time, the void, death, the divine feminine, and dimensions of the universe. They live and work on Potawatomi, Odawa and Ojibwe land (Chicago, IL).
Both solo and collaboratively, they have shown their work at Fundación del Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Mana Contemporary, Links Hall, Roman Susan Art Foundation, Threewalls Gallery, Comfort Station, International Museum of Surgical Science, Roots and Culture, Heaven Gallery, and Chicago Textiles Week. Their work is held in private collections across the United States and in the collection of Compound Yellow in Oak Park, IL.
They hold an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.They continued their education in floor loom weaving in a textile apprenticeship at the Chicago Weaving School from January 2017-March 2020. In addition to their studio work, they currently work as one of two lead artists for the Teen Creative Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.