Curated by Eva M. Olson, How to Describe a Suspect featured seventeen provocative artists from Chicago and the Midwest, whose visual languages span a variety of media. The exhibition included fiber art, collage, sculpture, photography, painting, and portraiture. Olson, called upon the artists to use the concept of self-portraiture in the broadest interpretation to clarify, define, parody or obscure identity issues. In the exhibition artists arranged an eclectic array of clues for the viewer to decipher. Each self-portrait presented wit, irreverence, quirkiness, obsession, eccentricity, and physiognomy to present the artists ever shifting and complex self-identities. Artmaking in late-20th- century America is often viewed as a suspicious venture.
How to Describe a Suspect was a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the identity of seventeen provocative artists from Chicago and the Midwest, as told in their own unique visual languages. “I wanted to involve a group of artists whose visual expressions span a variety of media,” said curator Eva M. Olson. “How to Describe a Suspect includes fiber art, collage, sculpture, photography and painting. It pushes the boundaries of portraiture. Artists often charge that critical attempts to pin down their identities by searching for clues in their work can be reductive or misleading,” said Olson. “Self- portraiture allows artists the power to define themselves–to clarify, parody or obscure identity issues as they wish.” In How to Describe a Suspect, artists have arranged an eclectic array of clues for the viewer to decipher.