“Ojero: A Character of Culture” is a solo exhibition by artist, Sam Kirk. The exhibition runs November 2nd through January 5th with an opening reception on Friday, November 2nd from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. The reception is free and open to the public and will take place at Elephant Room, Inc. located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago
“Ojero: A Character of Culture” is not just an exhibition but also a celebration of the merging of multiple Latino traditions. The skeletons of Dia de Los Muertos combined with the superstition of Mal de Ojo, or the evil eye, create a character Sam calls an Ojero.
The Ojero is Sam’s interpretation of the process in which Mal de Ojo is given and received. Combining the traditional Halloween practices she participated in as a child and the Latino traditions that she was surrounded by, Sam created this version of a calaca. Ojeros make their way out into the world to hypnotize, bewitch and bewilder as many innocent people as they can. It’s a game complete with costumes, dancing and debauchery.
This exhibition, different from Kirk’s other Ojero exhibits, requests the participation of visitors. “Ojero: A Character of Culture” mixes in the symbols and signs of Lotería cards and includes a custom altar which visitors will contribute to in true Dia de Los Muertos fashion. The artist asks that you don’t just celebrate culture but that you provoke it by becoming a part of the show. Makeup, costumes and making mischief is highly encouraged.
As the weather gets colder and the day of the dead comes and goes, spirits are believed to be more present and aware than ever. “Ojero: A Character of Culture” is the perfect way to join in on this tradition.
About the Artist
Provocation is a common theme for Sam Kirk, a multidisciplinary and multicultural artist. It is at the center of not only her work but also her personal journey. Unintended at times and wielded at others, Sam uses art to provoke people to feel, see or understand things differently.
Throughout her academic career Sam learned about divine proportion, scale and visual aesthetics. However, when it came to creating her artwork she learned by doing, experimenting and practicing. She sought out help from other local artists in the community and learned how to create by giving her brain what it needed, hands on instruction.
After graduating with a BFA in interior architecture and marketing she got a job in advertising. At the same time she worked her way into an artist community through gallery connections and studio interactions. Using moments of mentorship as a guide, she discovered how to extend materials, play with texture and perfect her creative process as an artist.
“The way I experience painting a canvas is in my mind. I put myself into the piece. My emotions spread out on the canvas to re-experience the memories and culture that existed in neighborhoods that have since been gentrified, to re-experience people that I have met at one time or another.”
The process of placing herself into a piece started when Sam was a young girl. She painted what she knew, what she saw and that was the South side of Chicago. Her environment was full of the physical manifestations of her own multicultural upbringing. Mexican, Puerto Rican and European heritage gave her an identity she loved and celebrated. Experiencing these cultures in the people and places surrounding her let her brain and imagination sink further into them.