Gallery Network

7 Questions for Norman Teague on Using Design to Effect Change and Finding Inspiration in Community


With an eponymous design studio and an array of high-profile projects, Norman Teague is a creator to watch in 2023. An assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Design, the educator and designer’s practice centers on effecting positive social change and fostering empowerment within black and brown communities through his work. In 2017, he was named a creative collaborator on the exhibitions team for the Barack Obama Presidential Library and has partnered with major institutions ranging from the Chicago Architecture Foundation to the Art Institute of Chicago. Later this year, Teague is slated to represent the United States at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice.

We caught up with Teague to learn more about his creative process and what advice he has for those just starting out.

Norman Teague. Courtesy of Norman Teague Design Studios.

Norman Teague. Courtesy of Norman Teague Design Studios.

You opened Norman Teague Design Studios in 2019. Can you tell us about your background and what led to founding your own firm?

I grew up in Chicago’s South Side, and when I became a teenager, I began to think creatively about a career in design and craft. I became close to architecture while studying at Harold Washington College, where I studied pre-architecture and worked in various offices as a CAD consultant like Eva Maddox & Associates and The Environments Group. It was my continuing education at Columbia College Chicago where I fell in love with interior architecture, wood shop, and furniture design. It was so enlightening to learn about different career possibilities and work under Kevin Henry and be introduced to Charles Harrison, the inventor of the View Master.

I rented my first studio before I graduated from Columbia College and began working on projects and making custom work for businesses and private clients. Some years later, I decided to apply for graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was accepted with a scholarship, and my work and time thinking there allowed me to consider storytelling through my work.

While studying, I met another amazing artist, designer, writer, and advocate for the Black arts movement by the name of Folayemi Wilson. Fo and I started a much-needed design studio call blkHaUS studios as a Chicago-based, socially focused, collaborative design studio dedicated to using design as an agent of change, to uplift and transform marginal communities. The name blkHaUS is inspired by the Bauhaus, a German school of architecture and applied arts founded in 1919 on experimental principles of functionalism and truth in materials—during a time when African aesthetics contributed to the development of Modernism. I continued to work on my personal studio projects as well as expand my practice, and in 2019 we established Norman Teague Design Studios.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process—where do you start? What is the most important tool in your studio?

I have started my creative process in several different ways, but as one would imagine, we sometimes start with researching either through ethnographic community work or by looking at what the client’s space might need. I draw inspiration from my city, people, architecture, and materials. Some of the materials are discarded, but my intentions are to create work through the narrative of where those materials are from, or how I might reappropriate those narratives into something new.

My favorite and most important tool is the hand planer. Planning reveals thin layers of wood, one sliver at a time. Simultaneously, it straightens the plank of wood so it’s a better fit for joining to another plank of wood.

Installation view, "Norman Teague: Objects for Change" (2022). Courtesy of Norman Teague Design Studio.

Installation view, “Norman Teague: Objects for Change” (2022). Courtesy of Norman Teague Design Studio.

Your work was recently featured in “Objects for Change” at the Art Center Highland Park. Can you talk about the exhibition, and the inspirations or themes behind it?

Firstly, I am so thankful to have advocates like Yumi Ross and the team at the Art Center Highland Park, and that they invited me to show my work, but more so understand my intentions and aesthetics. The alignment and wise counsel of a curatorial team is crucial to the progression of my work.

This exhibition was my exploration of the various narratives that an object, born from a source of material, plays in artistry, and the ways design can probe joy through its color, function, and form. Objects play on history and future while bringing a level of pleasure from its purest visual positioning within a space and context.

The context of Highland Park was my main concern. I knew of the heartwrenching recent events, and I knew that I wanted to address the hurt, so I went above and beyond to accentuate colorful work while at the same time developing pieces—furniture, wall art, and the slip cast ceramics—that explore a narrative. Lastly, I wanted to expand in scale and proportions. This allowed for a community aspect: inviting other artists to participate in the Cabinet of Curiosities. The piece exudes the scale and harmony one might envision in Martin Puryear’s Vessel (1997–2002). And the Diasporic Wall mural drew inspiration from Alexander Girard’s custom wall mural for Irwin Union Bank, but instead used assorted African printed textiles.

The array of objects made for and presented were filled with vibrant, bright colors that I hoped would infuse this Highland Park audience with some sense of joy.

Installation view, "Norman Teague: Objects for Change" (2022), featuring Cabinet of Curiosities. Courtesy of Norman Teague Design Studio.

Installation view, “Norman Teague: Objects for Change” (2022), featuring the Cabinet of Curiosities. Courtesy of Norman Teague Design Studio.

Your practice traverses many realms—from art to design and furniture to teaching. Do you approach these fields as distinctive, or more holistically?

My life experiences growing up in Chicago and living the life of a design enthusiast has been a double-edged sword in some ways. Provided the opportunities and struggles on the one hand and knowing where a systematic disaster has been thrust upon an entire culture on the other has always led me to believe there were other systems that needed to replenish that same culture. I’ve always assumed design needed to be a part of filling those voids. Through my work as an assistant professor, a designer, and furniture maker, I have always viewed them as one solid practice, and the industry component would soon follow to improve upon the inequities to make some compelling difference.

Where do you most commonly find inspiration?

I find most of my inspiration through the many facets of living in the city. Brushed with vacancy, fashion, music, arts and culture, architecture, and public spaces, each give me a sense of inspiration to make, tell stories, and mingle with other fascinating people. I surround myself with good people from the next-door neighbor to artist, fabricators, architects, and retailers—each of whom inspire me to do more.

I am also highly inspired by my travels to small places like in Guatemala and Nigeria, and international cities like in Italy and Spain.

Do you have any advice for artists or designers who are just starting out in their careers?

Travel, work hard, and meet new people. Pay strong attention to how humans respond to your work.

Then, make the necessary improvements but keep it original.

What are you working on now? Are there any projects or exhibitions on the horizon that you can share with us?

I am currently preparing designs for a retailer in Chicago’s South Side called Leaders 1354 and working diligently to complete work for the Venice Biennale 2023 with Spaces organization out of Cleveland, Ohio.  I also have a solo show at the Elmhurst Museum in Illinois in 2024.

Learn more about Norman Teague Design Studios here.

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Spotlight: Ugo Rondinone’s Witty Takeover of a Swiss Museum Sees Him Curate Himself Into Art History


Every month, hundreds of galleries add newly available works by thousands of artists to the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on one artist or exhibition you should know. Check out what we have in store, and inquire for more with one simple click.

What You Need to Know: On view from January 26 to June 19, 2023, the Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Geneva is presenting their its annual Open Invitation exhibition. For this edition, Ugo Rondinone was invited to take over the MAH building and its collection to produce the immersive exhibition experience “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up.” Situated within the iconic architecture designed by Marc Camoletti (1858–1940), and heavily referencing two famed Swiss artists from the collection, Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) and Félix Vallotton (1865–1925), the endeavor posits a dialogue between the historic and the contemporary, thanks to Rondinone’s interventions. The proverbial bookends of the exhibition are two works by Rondinone, the sun (2017) and the moon (2022)—circular sculptures measuring more than 16 feet in height, the former in gold and the latter in silver—which can be used as starting or ending points for visitors as they wind their way through the galleries.

About the Artist: Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964) studied at the Hochschule für Angewandte Künste in Vienna before relocating to New York in 1998, where he currently lives and works. Rondinone represented Switzerland at the 2007 Venice Biennale alongside Urs Fischer and has become widely recognized for his monumental public commissions; his two most famous being Human Nature (2013), which was installed at New York’s Rockefeller Center and received millions of visitors, and Seven Magic Mountains (2016), an installation of boulder totems in the Nevada desert. Working across sculpture, painting, video, sound, and photography, the artist’s varied practice engages with equally diverse themes and motifs that reference the zeitgeist through, for example, contemporary parlances or the iconography of advertising. Rondinone also has a parallel curatorial practice, granting him a complex understanding of the myriad ways his work and projects interface with the public.

Why We Like It: Rondinone’s takeover of the MAH highlights both the artist’s unique artistic and curatorial vision as well as the institution’s premier historical collection and magnificent architecture. Involving nearly a dozen gallery rooms, Rondinone invites visitors to explore the unique juxtapositions between his work and that of the historical art and architecture of the room. In one gallery, Rondinone takes a collection of Hodler paintings of Swiss warriors and installs them on pedestals, transforming them into sculptures to circumnavigate. Elsewhere, another gallery is populated with 11 glass horses in varying shades of blue containing water from different oceans, a response to the series of paintings by Hodler depicting Lake Geneva and Lake Thun that are hung on the wall—inviting a reflection on the natural versus artificial, “the bounded and the boundless.” Together, each room within “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” presents a new facet of Rondinone’s dialectical exploration of his own artistic practice against the backdrop of a major European institution.

See inside the exhibition below.

Installation view of "when the sun goes down and the moon comes up" (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of "when the sun goes down and the moon comes up" (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of "when the sun goes down and the moon comes up" (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of "when the sun goes down and the moon comes up" (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of "when the sun goes down and the moon comes up" (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

Installation view of “when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” (2023). Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Courtesy of the Museum of Art and History, Geneva.

when the sun goes down and the moon comes up” is on view through June 18, 2023.

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Revel in the Winter Season With These 6 Snowy Works From the Gallery Network


Love it or hate it, snow is a classic hallmark of winter. Whether a smattering of fluffy flakes or a full-on blizzard, snow has long been a favorite motif for artists; either for its symbolism, evoking themes of solitude and silence, or for its compositional qualities, offering a wintry scrim through which to view the world. Where paintings like N.C. Wyeth’s Winter at Valley Forge (1934–36) engage with a specific event, portraying General George Washington’s brave encampment in frigid hues, other works take a more contemporary, humorous approach to snowy scenes.

As we approach the midpoint of winter, we’ve gathered six artworks from the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network that highlight the artistic diversity of snow. And, as always, you too can browse and discover season-inspired art on your own through the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network, which has thousands of artists and galleries that can easily be accessed with just one click.

Manabu Ikeda, Snowy Night (2020)

Manabu Ikeda, Snowy Night (2020). Courtesy of Tandem Press, Madison.

Manabu Ikeda, Snowy Night (2020). Courtesy of Tandem Press, Madison.

Weaving together themes of nature and the manmade world in his work, Japanese artist Manabu Ikeda (b. 1973) is able to create extremely detailed drawings and prints of everyday vignettes that take on the air of the sublime. His monochromatic works on paper—such as this intaglio print of a hushed suburban street—play with the relationship between the micro and the macro, which invite viewers to spend prolonged periods looking, and to immerse themselves in his artistic world.

Rafael Desoto, Noir Pulp Magazine, Dead Man in the Snow (1945)

Rafael Desoto, Noir Pulp Magazine, Dead Man in the Snow (1945). Courtesy of Robert Funk Fine Art, Miami.

Rafael Desoto, Noir Pulp Magazine, Dead Man in the Snow (1945). Courtesy of Robert Funk Fine Art, Miami.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Rafael Desoto (1904–92) initially worked at an advertising company before starting to draw interior story illustrations for pulp magazine Street & Smith’s in 1930. Soon, he was working regularly as a freelance pulp cover artist and was published widely. The gouache on board Noir Pulp Magazine, Dead Man in the Snow (1945) epitomizes his and the genre’s frank and narrative style—and renders the usually lighthearted depiction of snow decidedly macabre.

David Yarrow, LA Baby (2022)

David Yarrow, LA Baby (2022). Courtesy of Maddox Gallery, London, Gstaad, West Hollywood.

David Yarrow, LA Baby (2022). Courtesy of Maddox Gallery, London, Gstaad, and West Hollywood.

Scottish photographer David Yarrow (b. 1966) first rose to prominence with his iconic image of footballer Diego Maradona holding the 1986 FIFA World Cup, which he took when he was only 20 years old. Yarrow has continued to work as a highly respected sports photographer—including covering the 1988 Winter Olympics—as well as expanding his practice to include photographing the natural world. His nature images are recognized for their unique perspectives and compositional nuance.

Aaron Cobbett, Sean with Skates (2004)

Aaron Cobbett, Sean with Skates (2004). Courtesy of Clamp, New York.

Aaron Cobbett, Sean with Skates (2004). Courtesy of Clamp, New York.

Brooklyn-based artist Aaron Cobbett started his career in the 1980s as a window dresser at New York’s famed Bergdorf Goodman department store. Simultaneously participating in the vibrant East Village drag scene, this confluence of experiences—also within the context of the AIDS crisis—informed and shaped Cobbett’s artistic practice. Working across textile, video, installation, and photography, his color-saturated, high-concept portraits have become a cornerstone of New York queer visual culture.

Ryan Gander, Upside down Breuer chair after a couple of inches of snowfall (2017)

Ryan Gander, Up side down Breuer chair after a couple of inches of snowfall (2017). Courtesy of Esther Schipper, Berlin, Paris, Seoul.

Ryan Gander, Upside down Breuer chair after a couple of inches of snowfall (2017). Courtesy of Esther Schipper, Berlin, Paris, and Seoul.

Exploring themes around his longstanding disability, which requires the use of a wheelchair, British artist Ryan Gander (b. 1976) creates artistic interpretations of the challenges he faces in his personal life. His ongoing research into the myriad ways he must navigate the world is reflected in the wide range of mediums he employs and approaches he takes—such as labyrinth-like installation pieces that viewers must gingerly traverse. Conceptual at its core, Gander’s work often evokes a degree of playfulness and levity through his choice of medium and composition, which is juxtaposed by more solemn abstract themes.

Michael Fratrich, Quintessential Vermont (n.d.)

Michael Fratrich, Quintessential Vermont (n.d.). Courtesy of Tilting at Windmills Gallery, Manchester Center.

Michael Fratrich, Quintessential Vermont (n.d.). Courtesy of Tilting at Windmills Gallery, Manchester Center.

The practice of self-taught artist Michael Fratrich (b. 1983) centers on depicting rural and vintage American landscapes and scenes. His signature style evokes traditional folk and colonial painting styles, and his work engages with an “underlying American spirit.” Largely inspired by the rural countryside of Vermont, where he currently lives and works, the snowy scene in the cozy Quintessential Vermont embodies the picturesque beauty of fresh fallen snow.

Explore and discover more artists and artworks with Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network.

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Spotlight: In Leah Gordon’s Empathetic Photographs, Haitian Carnival Culture Bursts Forth in a New Show Spanning Decades


Every month, hundreds of galleries add newly available works by thousands of artists to the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on one artist or exhibition you should know. Check out what we have in store, and inquire for more with one simple click.

What You Need to Know: Ed Cross, London, is currently hosting the solo show “Leah Gordon: Kanaval,” which will be on view through February 18, 2023. The selection of black-and-white photography is drawn from a long-term series that Gordon begun when she first visited Haiti in the early 1990s. With images taken over a 25-year period using a vintage analog camera, the works together offer insight into the rich and complex culture and history of Haiti’s southern commune, Jacmel. The exhibition follows the recent reissue of the book Kanaval, by Here Press in November of last year; it features more photographs, as well as oral histories centered on the Carnival season in Jacmel. Later this year, Gordon’s documentary film Kanaval: A People’s History of Haiti in Six Chapters will be shown in select cinemas in November, as well as on BBC 4’s Arena on November 27, 2023.

Why We Like It: What sets Gordon’s work apart from straightforward documentary photography is her reciprocal approach—which has been referred to as “performed ethnography”—to the subjects of her images. Engaging directly with the people and places she focuses her lens on, and communicating through the shared language of Krèyol (also known as Haitian Creole), the sitters maintain their authority and are paid for their time. {Fittingly, 5 percent of the profits from the current show will be used to purchase art materials for Atis Rezistans—Resistance Artists—a collective based in Port-au-Prince.) Collecting oral histories alongside capturing the costume, dress, and setting of the participants and attendees of Jacmel’s annual Carnival celebration over decades has resulted in a dynamic, multi-perspective visual exploration of the vibrant community and culture. Additionally, through this project Gordon has been able to engage with broader themes of history and politics, and bring to light the influence the past—from precolonial society to 18th-century revolt and 20th-century U.S. interference—on modern-day Haitian culture. Of the project Gordon said, “This is people taking history into their own hands and molding it into whatever they decide. So, within this historical retelling we find mask after mask, but rather than concealing, they are revealing, story after story, through disguise and roadside pantomime.”

According to the Gallery: “We are honored to be working with Leah Gordon to present this show. Her iconic work, carried out over two decades, painstakingly and respectfully reveals the layers of meaning behind an extraordinarily rich cultural phenomenon, the study of which unlocks the unique and important history of Haiti, with all its tragedies and triumphs.” —Director Ed Cross

See featured works from the exhibition below.

Leah Gordon, Lansè Kòd | Gason Bó Lanmé-a (Rope Throwers | Boy by the Sea) (2000). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Lansè Kòd | Gason Bó Lanmé-a (Rope Throwers | Boy by the Sea) (2000). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Madanm Lasirén (Madame Mermaid) (2003). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Madanm Lasirén (Madame Mermaid) (2003). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Pa Wowo (The Way of Wowo) (2004). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Pa Wowo (The Way of Wowo) (2004). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Nèg pote Wob fè Fas Kache: Deye (Man Wearing a Dress Hiding his Face: Front) (2004). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Nèg pote Wob fè Fas Kache: Deye (Man Wearing a Dress Hiding his Face: Front) (2004). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Lanmò (Death) (2019). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon, Lanmò (Death) (2019). Courtesy of Ed Cross, London.

Leah Gordon: Kanaval” is on view at Ed Cross, London, through February 18, 2023.

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The Art Renewal Center Is Honoring the Best of Realist Art—by Sending the Winners of its Annual Competition to the Moon


The Art Renewal Center (ARC), based in New Jersey, has maintained a mission of promoting and preserving the tradition of realist art since its founding in 2009. A core tenet in both the ARC’s inception and ongoing operation is the transmission of technical skills—from Old Master to contemporary—needed for creating representational art, as the genre’s presence in schools and studios has dwindled. Today, there are over 85 ARC-endorsed schools and art programs, and an extensive collection of online resources, that together with ARC’s exhibitions and partnerships are bringing 21st-century realist art to the fore once again.

This month, on January 2, the ARC announced the winners and finalists of its 16th International ARC Salon Competition—the largest competition in the world dedicated to contemporary representational art. The salon ultimately received over 5,400 entries from 75 countries.

The top honor of best in show—accompanied by a $25,000 cash prize—was awarded to Mark Pugh for his work An Unsatisfying Ending (2021). Speaking of his work, Pugh said, “With most of my paintings I try to tell a story. Here a young girl has torn up the pages of a book she was not happy with, while hiding it behind her back. I wanted to make sure the look on her face matched the story being told. The sunflowers behind her reflect her mood, and mirror her stance.”

Other notable entries included Chanel Cha’s Dreaming (2022), first-place winner in the Portrait category; Narelle Zeller’s The Weaving (2022), first-place winner in the Still Life category; and Césare Orrico’s Bifronte (2021), first-place winner in the Sculpture category. Together with the other first-place winners and finalists, these honorees exemplify the creativity and diversity of today’s realist art, as well as the thriving community of artists the ARC has fostered. The organization acquired 11 works, valued at more than $80,000, from the competition for its permanent collection, exemplifying the ARC’s commitment to supporting and preserving realist art and artists.

This summer, an exhibition comprising between 75 and 100 works from the competition will be shown at Sotheby’s flagship galleries in New York, running from July 14 through July 24, 2023. Additionally, the winners’ and finalists’ work will be included in the Lunar Codex‘s “Polaris Collection,” wherein images of the work—either as laser-etched nickel microfiche or on memory cards—will be added to a time capsule on the Griffin lunar lander. The Griffin will be launched and livestreamed by SpaceX in late 2023 and will place the time capsule on the moon.

See a selection of first-place winners below.

Chanel Cha, Dreaming (2022). First place, portrait category. Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

Chanel Cha, Dreaming (2022). First Place, Portrait. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

Narelle Zeller, The Weaving (2022). First Place/Still Life. Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

Narelle Zeller, The Weaving (2022). First Place, Still Life category. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

Jake Gaedtke, Midnight Shadows (2021). First Place/Landscape Category. Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

Jake Gaedtke, Midnight Shadows (2021). First Place, Landscape category. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

Césare Orrico, Bifronte (2021). First Place/Sculpture Category. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

Césare Orrico, Bifronte (2021). First Place, Sculpture category. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

Jim McVicker, Begonias and Sunlight (2021). First Place/Plein Air Painting. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

Jim McVicker, Begonias and Sunlight (2021). First Place, Plein Air Painting category. Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

See all the first-place winners and learn more about the Art Renewal Center Salon here.

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