Football Practice

The Jackman Goldwasser Facade Gallery –a billboard-sized projection wall on the front of the Art Center — features the live animated digital video by Chicago-based artist Kristin McWharter just in time for the football season. Football Practice is an experiment in visualizing the archetypes, stereotypes, and desires that are enmeshed in the narratives of professional sports.The software runs in real-time with AI athletes driven by the motivations of how workshop participants reimagined players for a speculative hybrid sport. This exhibition marks the close of a two-year development process and is an opportunity to witness what new narratives this virtual team embodies as they play.

From 2020 to 2022, a series of online public workshops organized by VGA gallery and the artist engaged participants to discuss the cultural impacts they experienced surrounding American football and design their speculative players for a reimagined game. The complex discussion involves how fandom, inclusion, exclusion, gender, race, class, and consensual violence contribute to forming an American identity. These online conversations and the attributes of the players the participants designed laid the groundwork for a dynamic team of artists and developers to create the simulation software that reimagined American football.

Football Practice is programmed by VGA Gallery, a participant in the Artist Run Chicago network.

  • November 21 – December 4, 2022
    Jackman Goldwasser Catwalk Gallery


    *6-10pm daily, visible outside from Cornell Avenue

About Kristin McWharter

Kristin McWharter (b. 1990) uses performance and play to interrogate the relationship between competition and intimacy. Her work conjoins viewers within immersive sculptural installations and viewer- inclusive performances that critically fuse folk games within virtual and augmented worlds. Her software installations and performative objects incorporate experimental technologies and playful interaction to produce performances that speculate upon alternative forms of social behavior. Inspired by 20th century sports narrative, collective decision making, and technology as a contemporary spiritual authority, her work blurs the boundaries of intimacy and hype culture to challenge viewer’s relationships to affection and competitive drive within our current social context. Her work has been exhibited at The Hammer Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center, Ars Electronica, Museo Altillo Beni, and FILE Festival. McWharter is an Assistant Professor in Art & Technology Studies at SAIC.

About VGA

Founded in 2013 by Jonathan Kinkley and Chaz Evans in the lively game community of Chicago, Video Game Art (VGA) Gallery seeks to increase cultural appreciation, education of video games and new media through exhibition, study, critique, and sale. Annual programs include Exhibitions and Events featuring the work of significant artists and game developers from around the world; Education programs are comprised of talks, screenings, and student programs; the VGA fine art print collection encompasses giclees and posters of artwork from video games; and a scholarly publications program that includes the VGA Reader, a peer-reviewed journal that highlights new scholarship about video games and new media art. VGA Gallery is an Illinois 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.