Now & There

MFA Thesis Exhibition 1 | March 22-30, 2019

  1. Tamara Becerra Valdez, Photo documentation of NENO at Cullerton Street, as part of an ongoing series of "paper squeezes" recording names written in concrete in Chicago, 2017, courtesy of the artist.

Now & There, the first of two University of Illinois at Chicago Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibitions features the work of Leticia Bernaus, Stella Brown, Daniel Carroll, Malte Stiehl, and Tamara Becerra Valdez. With close attention to the connection between place and identity, each artist examines the overt complexities ever present in memory, whether collective or personal, actual or imagined. Memory, often considered a mercurial human function, is one that wavers and is ever-changing. Although fluid in nature and multi-layered, memory follows specific and real paths, shaping our understanding of ourselves and one another. Likewise, nostalgia remains in constant flux, susceptible to the analysis of remembering and forgetting, unaware of its successive distortions, vulnerable to manipulation, predisposed to being long dormant and periodically revived. Through their unique practices, the artists in Now & There negotiate memory, and as an extension- nostalgia, as a site to explore untold, unseen or forgotten histories.

Leticia Bernaus


The work of Leticia Bernaus (b. Argentina) displays
an intriguing take on the conflicting contemporary
link between nature and culture. She superimposes
materials and formats, fading the boundaries between
animal and mineral, industry and culture, documentary and
fiction. Representation is a fundamental concern, which
is evident through her use of diverse mediums. Bernaus
works with moving image, performance, photography,
and writing in order to explore contemporary issues of
climate change, displacement and belonging, diversity,
and forms of colonialism. She is the recipient of several
awards and fellowships including Iila-Fotografia 2017,
Renaissance Photography Prize 2017 (finalist), Photoalicante
2016, Mosaicografía 2016, and the University Fellowship at
the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work has been
exhibited internationally in Argentina, Brazil, United States,
Spain, England, and Italy.

Stella Brown


Stella Brown (b. 1986 Chicago, IL) is a Chicago based artist
and curator. Through an interdisciplinary research-based
art practice, her work explores narratives within natural
history, geology, culture and our current ecological position
within the Anthropocene using modes of collection,
documentation, and display influenced by natural history
museums, scientific collections and the model of the store.
She has recently shown work at Goldfinch Gallery, the
Museum of Contemporary Art, Triumph, Slow Pony Projects
and Comfort Station (Chicago) and at the University of
Wisconsin (Madison). She has presented curatorial projects
with Efrain Lopez Gallery (Chicago) and Shoot the Lobster
(New York).

Malte Stiehl


Malte Stiehl is an interdisciplinary artist who creates installation-
based works that explore the notion of material agency through
organic interplay between image, object, and the viewer. The
installations serve as experimental setups in which rigorous
investigation of human perception is accompanied by free formal
improvisation. Materials degrade and transform over time,
developing a life of their own. The inaccuracies and difficulties
which result from the translation of an idea into a physical thing
play a defining role in the process. Stiehl was awarded a DAAD
post-graduate scholarship in 2017.

Danny Carroll


Danny lives and works in Chicago. His films have been shown in
galleries and screenings both nationally and internationally. He
holds a BFA in visual arts from the New School and is currently
finishing his Master’s degree in Moving Image at the University
of Illinois at Chicago. He has also completed residencies at Lazuli
and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Tamara Becerra Valdez


Tamara Becerra Valdez uses video, printmaking, photography,
and installation alongside an adoption of methods in archaeology,
ethnography, and archives to consider how historical topographies
can be discovered in traces and fragments in the urban social
landscape. Through intervening methodologies and chance
encounters, she observes the uses, meanings, and functions
of discarded and abandoned materials. The ephemeral nature
of human behavior leaves an impression in her work. Valdez
earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at
Austin (2008). She has held positions in programming and special
collections at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural
Heritage, Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum,
and The Harry Ransom Center. She has worked in field-based,
ethnographic projects in Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, and Mexico.
In 2017, she served as a Graduate Research Fellow supervising the
artistic and creative direction in the collaborative, multi-disciplinary
project, “Political Ecology: Platform Chicago,” supported by the
Institute for the Humanities (UIC) Humanities Without Walls
consortium and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.