Beginning to See the Light

Public Programs at the Hyde Park Art Center marks its official launch this spring equinox with Beginning to See the Light: an exploration into the experiences and obsessions that generate collective joy & happiness. This related exhibition was curated by the inagural Public Programs Manager, Ariel Gentalen.

Written in 1977 for the Village Voice, Ellen Willis’s essay of the same name explores the ever shifting politics of freedom and the fight for equality through the lens of the radical shift felt during the 60’s rock and roll revolution, into the tumbling onslaught of rage centered punk, all while questioning how exclusionary these movements have been to those outside the cultural standard (i.e. cis, white, het, able-bodied) without uplifting alternative forms or voices.

Grounded in the essence of rock and roll, Beginning to See the Light is a visual jam session we all play within. Music has always been essential to revolution and remains a wealthspring of inspiration and hope but also a space for venting, a call to attention and a platform, that can be utilized to press for change. Or as our current day Willis, critic Jessica Hopper wrote in 2002, “Because there is a void in my guts which can only be filled by songs.”

The everyday can seem impossible, and Light seeks to make it hopeful through rotating pop up exhibitions, interactive activities, tender dialogues, and community gatherings for music, poetry, honesty, empathy and time spent presently together. Searching to foil the energy present in our current lived environment, we ask our visitors to prioritize their own joy in this moment.

This project is curious if there are new ways we want to understand the world and feel connected to each other, when we have exhausted other forms of social or online engagement. What are ways we can create happiness, and shared collective joy by taking time to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we would like to go? How can we learn to not just listen, but hear and understand? How can we manifest the change we long for in small, collective action? How to balance survival of the self and survival of the planet?

Or as Willis directs us: “I just thought that the question they ought to ask was not “How can I make them like me?” but “How can I make them hear me?”

Visit the exhibition’s Tumblr page here.

  • March 17, 2019 – July 27, 2019
  • Gallery 2 & Cleve Carney Gallery

Featured artists:

light setlist, 2019

Audra Jacot
Frances Lightbound
Caroline Liu
Victoria Martinez
Noel Morical
Michelle Nordmeyer
Eric Stefanski
Jacquelyn Surdell
Matthew Sage
Marcela Torres
Sara Wenokur

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About Ariel Gentalen

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Ariel Gentalen is a trans gender queer educator, curator, and arts organizer seeking to diversify narratives and create platforms for engaging critical dialogue among artists, artwork and audience. Their current research focuses on situating socially engaged art in theories of intersectional feminisms and utilizing exhibitions as a political platform to center voices previously excluded and underrepresented. They are currently writing in and around issues of transgender identity, masculinity, & time.

They received their BA in Art History and Women’s Studies from California State University, Fullerton and their MA in Arts Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They have also worked at the Third Coast International Audio Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, & were a 2017 Curatorial Resident at the Chicago Artists Coalition. They were the Residency and Public Programs Manager at Hyde Park Art Center between 2016-2019.