Artist can’t keep up with shoot­ings

The Hamilton Spectator - - A & E - ALI­SON BOWEN Chicago Tri­bune

In 2010, Krista Wor­tendyke started tak­ing her cam­era to Chicago crime scenes, her mis­sion: to cap­ture the place each per­son was killed by gun vi­o­lence that sum­mer.

The 172 pho­tos she took have since been shown through her ex­hibit “Killing Sea­son Chicago,” fea­tur­ing a large wall of mounted pho­tos in the form of a sky­line that has been dis­played around the city, from Wicker Park’s The Vi­o­let Hour to Mo­raine Val­ley Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Palos Hills, Ill.

But this year, she said, feels dif­fer­ent. The pho­tos no longer seem to re­flect the mag­ni­tude of an even more vi­o­lent year.

“It seems sparse,” she said of the pho­tos, now part of the “This Heat” ex­hibit, which en­com­passes three rooms at the Wein­berg/New­ton Gallery through Sept. 24. So far this year, there have been 358 homi­cides in Chicago, more than twice the num­ber in “Killing Sea­son Chicago.”

“This Heat” or­ga­niz­ers ex­pected the gun vi­o­lence-fo­cused ex­hibit, pre­sented with the Illi­nois Coun­cil Against Hand­gun Vi­o­lence, to be rel­e­vant and timely be­cause of the on­go­ing vi­o­lence in the city. How­ever, with the more than 2,200 shoot­ing vic­tims in Chicago this year, Wor­tendyke is won­der­ing whether, and how, to up­date her piece.

She re­cently ex­panded her work by adding a sep­a­rate dis­play ti­tled “Blood­spot (Death by Gun),” which shows 700 prints of a blood­stained side­walk she pho­tographed af­ter the first homi­cide of 2013. She re­calls look­ing for the ex­act spot where the vic­tim fell in a Chicago al­ley only to re­al­ize she was stand­ing in dried blood. She said the prints rep­re­sent the pro­jected homi­cides this year.

The ti­tle “The Killing Sea­son” evolved from a con­ver­sa­tion with a friend af­ter she moved in 2003 to Chicago from New York. While talk­ing about the city’s vi­o­lence, her friend noted, “It’s not even sum­mer.”

Wor­tendyke re­mem­bers think­ing, “There’s a sea­son for this?”

A few years later, a man shot two rel­a­tives in her neigh­bour­hood. She be­came ob­sessed, she said, with find­ing the lo­ca­tion of the shoot­ing — the street seemed im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine as a vi­o­lent set­ting. And the house she lo­cated seemed eerily mun­dane.

“I think some­times peo­ple are sur­prised to find where these places are,” she said. “‘Rogers Park? Oh it looks like it could be En­gle­wood.’ And vice versa.”

“This Heat” also fea­tures the work of Gar­land Martin Tay­lor, who said he wants his art to re­mind peo­ple of the bul­lets pierc­ing lo­cal lives.

Bul­lets dan­gle from gui­tar strings at­tached to the ceil­ing. When a vis­i­tor en­ters the room, walk­ing through the bul­lets, they sway.

“We come in, and we get to pre­tend to dodge these bul­lets,” he said.

Tay­lor used his own hair, mixed with acrylic medium and pig­ment, to fill them, some shot from his own .38 for the pro­ject and some col­lected from ranges. Feath­ers at­tached evoke spir­its, or move­ment.

A third room in­cludes a video in­stal­la­tion by artist Ch­eryl Pope with two peo­ple silently trad­ing “In Lov­ing Mem­ory” T-shirts.

Owner David Wein­berg said the gallery, which aims to high­light so­cial jus­tice is­sues, opts not to in­clude cards ex­plain­ing the in­stal­la­tions.

“It opens up a di­a­logue,” he said.

A woman walks by the in­stal­la­tion "Killing Sea­son Chicago".

In 2010, Krista Wor­tendyke started tak­ing her cam­era to Chicago crime scenes.

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