Intimate Matter

Collage image


The School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago is excited to announce our 2020 MFA Thesis Exhibitions.


Featuring artists:

Sabrina Huchthausen

Spencer Hutchinson

Ej Nussbaum



Onyx Montes

All exhibitions to take place in Gallery 400, an integral part of both the University of Illinois at Chicago’s and the city of Chicago’s vibrant contemporary arts scene.

Sabrina Huchthausen

Black and white photograph of a young woman with medium length curly brown hair


Sabrina Marie Huchthausen (b.1993) is an artist based in Chicago, studying at The School of the ArtInstitute of Chicago’s Early College Program (2010- 2012), and receiving a BFA (2016). Much of her work circulates themes of portraiture, proximity, human essence, matter, and how it relates to sensation in painting and human connection. Her evolving city based work (Stockyard Institute*), imagines a practice of building relationships as an artist rooted within portraiture, where outside of the studio, these community projects forge unique social exchanges between the artist, the subjects, and the site.
*Stockyard Institute was founded by Jim Duignan (c.1995), artist and professor of Visual Art in the College of Education at DePaul University.

Artist Statement:
As an artist I process circumstances and relationships in my life. My work however inhabits an in-between, a liminal space between the sensual and the grotesque. The physical treatment of my work mimics past transactions, complicated relationships, fond wishes, and the insecurities change inhabits. The work offers a conflict to sort out in the complicated, complicit, maybe imaginary, exchanges I need with my subjects. The current works question the conditions and constraints of portraiture within the language of painting. Within this practice, the exchange of presence is crucial in rendering something that goes beyond capturing the visual information of the picture plane. Within this moment of occurrence,  the artist and subject are aware of one another, creating the presence that inhabits the final portrait. If the subject is outside of physical proximity, this exchange cannot happen to enforce and provoke what is captured. The artist can only show a re-representation of likeness and is only answerable to their recounts and biases. Within this shallowness, there is an indication that portraiture is rooted within the social, being “as much about the exchange between the observer and subject, as it is about the subject itself.” In an attempt to bridge this proximity, in order to paint a portrait that renders human connection, I follow a system of translation. Modeling the foundation of the painting in the physical likeness of the subject, this process, oscillating between the digital and the analog, generates a visual surrogate for the subject similar in function to an effigy. This is then abstracted by the leftover materials of the relationship. It is an attempt to conjure human interaction, functioning as a labyrinth of inputs and outputs to navigate in the painting.

Spencer Hutchinson

Black and white photograph of a young man with glasses and short curly dark hair.


Spencer Hutchinson is a 2009 BFA Graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied Painting, Sound, Video, and 3D animation.  His work has been shown nationally and internationally in Sacramento CA, Chicago, IL, Knoxville, TN, Mexico City, Ravenna IT, Assisi IT, and Manchester, UK. He is a resident of Chicago, Illinois.

Artist Statement: My work traverses the gulf between sound/music, painting, and architecture. By focusing on repetition, rhythm, texture, and tone I am able to create visual works that evoke the sonic as well as sonic works that evoke the visual.

Non-negotiable truth: My non-negotiable truth compels me to always keep an open mind and to listen to opinions and arguments that I may disagree with. By keeping an open mind, I am able to let my own ideas evolve by constantly testing them and seeing how they hold up in the real world. I believe that not doing this leads to develop habits of thinking that are rigid and easily broken when put to a true test. It is something that has served me well for many years.

Cpach – Autechre
Stone in Focus – Aphex Twin
Your head my voice – Aphex Twin
Garbagemx36 – Autechre

Ej Nussbaum

Black and white photograph of a young woman with blonde hair.


Ej Nussbaum (b. 1992, Houston, Texas) is a time-based artist. She earned her BA in Labor Studies and Material Culture from Hampshire College.  She works primarily with analogue and digital time machines. Current questions that guide her practice include: How can you break up with an eating disorder?  What is a film-performance or performance-film? How do written words conjure time differently than moving image and sound? How is time political? What is the relationship between symbolic and material change? What forms of collaboration are equitable for all people involved?

Non-Negotiable Truth:

We are all capable of infinite change and growth.  Celebrate our potential to grow and become through accountability in every community you’re a part of (ie don’t be polite at dinner parties).  Feel your feelings. Don’t be an asshole to yourself or others.


Fiona Apple – Limp
Fiona Apple – Get Gone
Fiona Apple – Oh Well
Fiona Apple – Anything We Want

Curator: Onyx Montes

Black and white image of a young woman with long curly dark hair.


Onyx was raised in Mexico and lived in Amsterdam and Seattle before moving to Chicago in 2015. She studied art history and women, gender & sexuality studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is currently pursuing her MA in Museum and Exhibition Studies at UIC and is part of the inaugural Arts & Culture Leaders of Color Fellowship by Americans for the Arts. Onyx is involved as an educator at the Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago and works as the social media manager for Hyde Park Art Center. A recent project she is proud of is the collage and art history workshop she developed and taught for incarcerated women in Mexico. She is an avid reader and well traveled with 19 countries and counting. Her interests include museum education, swimming, grunge music, eating tacos and thrift shopping.

Kendrick Lamar – XXX.FEAT.U2
Plush – Stone Temple Pilots
3 Strange Days – School of Fish