Artist Susan Giles Transforms Gesture into Sculpture at the Chicago Cultural Center

Want More Great Coverage of Chicago's Amazing Arts & Culture at Your Fingertips? Subscribe to Clef Notes' Digital Edition Using eCoupon: PRYB2XJ7NSX7 and get 50% Off the Standard Subscription Rate!

Susan Giles’ In the Center There Were Librarians and Other Gestures is one of three sculptural bodies of work included in "Tuned Mass: Jeff Carter, Faheem Majeed and Susan Giles,” a Chicago Cultural Center exhibition. Curated by Greg Lunceford, the exhibition reimagines the liberation of sculpture and painting from the dictates of architecture.

In the Center There Were Librarians and Other Gestures is a series of 3D sculptural representations of physical gestures used to describe the architecture at the historic Chicago Cultural Center. This body of work stems from conversations with archivists, historians and librarians who previously worked inside the Chicago Cultural Center when the building was the city’s central library. Giles conducted this series of interviews during an Artist Engagement Residency at the Chicago Cultural Center in Spring of 2018, and deploys 3D motion-tracking technology, 3D printing, laser cut cardboard and gallons of Elmer’s Glue to sculpt the sweep and swoop of gestures made by the building’s visitors and staff while speaking about this monumental landmark.

“I’m interested in the hand gestures people use to describe the historic Chicago Cultural Center, because gestures are important indicators of how we think spatially,” said artist Susan Giles. “They can reveal information about our thinking that is not stated in our speech. Gestures are ephemeral and often operate in the periphery of our awareness. By making the gestures into physical objects for this show, the viewer will be able to spend time with these forms and consider them as remnants of a conversation.”

In the Center There Were Librarians opened to the public on September 8, 2018 and will remain on view at the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Rooms (78 E. Washington) through January 6, 2019.  


A large reference coral gesture, from In The Center There Were Librarians by Susan Giles and Other Gestures at the Chicago Cultural Center (photo by Kip Wilkinson).