Maggie Crowley: Playmate

In her first solo exhibition in Chicago, artist Maggie Crowley presents a new series of large figurative paintings in acrylic on silk in which she examines her admiration and personal connection to the service industry. Uniforms and accessories, like safety vests, helmets, and coolers, identify public workers and render them visible, while conducting labor that is considered invisible. Crowley considers this contradiction as it relates to the value placed on essential work – a discrepancy recently heightened in the US by the pandemic.

The exhibition title, Playmate references the portable Igloo cooler beloved by laborers. The artist chose the object as a symbol of care, foresight, and independence of the skilled work force. Maggie Crowley is an alumni of the Art Center’s exhibition Ground Floor 2014 and co-founder of the alternative gallery, Produce Model.

Image above: Maggie Crowley, Sidewalk Closed, 2020, acrylic on silk woven, 78 x 50 inches (approximate). Courtesy of the artist.

  • April 12, 2021 – July 10, 2021
  • Gallery 5


    This exhibition is partially supported by an artist grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

Maggie Crowley: Playmate

Previous work by Crowley combined neon tinted abstractions of figures in domestic settings. Reflecting on this shift in her work, Crowley states, “My most recent body of work focuses on the figure in motion and totems of production. Raised by a hairdresser and an ironworker, I am interested in labor and its relationship to value and visibility. The neighborhood I live in is constantly in motion with construction workers, builders and city sanitation employees. Professionals rely on hi-vis clothing to decrease the risk of injury while also having the peace of mind to perform a given task. I am interested in exploring this specific “peace of mind” that seems inextricably tied to service, ritual, agency and performance.”

About Maggie Crowley

Maggie Crowley (b. 1987, Ottawa, Illinois) received her M.F.A. from the University of Chicago in 2013, her M.A. from Eastern Illinois University in 2011 and her B.S. from Illinois State University in 2009. Crowley has exhibited in numerous venues including the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, the Evanston Art Center, the Hyde Park Art Center, Area: Lugar de Proyectos in Caguas, Puerto Rico and 65Grand in Chicago. Her work has been featured in the prestigious journal New American Paintings in 2017 and 2013. Since 2014 Crowley has co-directed Produce Model Gallery in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The gallery is dedicated to programming and exhibitions featuring Caribbean and Latinx artists. Crowley serves on the board of the International Children’s Media Center (ICMC) in Chicago, helping to facilitate education programs for prisons, jails and at-risk students in Chicago.



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