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NO SUCH THING AS STRANGERS. Based on in-person interviews with Springfield residents, this series explores how individuals create and define the meaning of “home” in both a local sense and when considering the world as a broader, global place to live. These paintings and corresponding outdoor sculpture (Shifting Foundations) delve into a wide range of topics including memories, personal narratives, social issues, and how a city experiences change over time.

A free online exhibition book is available here.

ANATOMY OF AN ARTIST AND THEIR ARTIFICIAL SELF. In the midst of expanding media attention surrounding artificial intelligence, some voices have expressed concern about the risks that this set of technologies, highly dependent on the collection of data, impose. Within these voices, some describe dystopian scenarios similar to plots from 20th-century science fiction novels. Other voices, less alarmist than the previous ones, are skeptical about the true capacity of these technologies and point out that the success stories around AI, at least for the moment, have been overstated to benefit the voracious commercial interests of large companies and investors. Yet, regardless of the overall perspective taken on the topic, AI technologies are already deeply impacting and transforming human behavior at individual and collective levels: how people spend their leisure time, how people communicate with each other, how preferences are shaped, how information and misinformation have influenced a variety of collective actions, and how decisions are made, from judges making decisions about parole to people choosing clothing sizes when shopping online. 

This exhibition, consisting of a series of hand-made paintings made by artist Lelia Byron and an installation of images produced through the use of AI technologies made collaboratively with Nicolás García Trillos, Professor in the Statistics Department at UW Madison, seeks to explore the relationship between AI technologies and the creative process of an artist and, more broadly, examines a fundamental question: how does a creator respond when they see their own creation come to life and find themselves being shaped by their own creations? 

The exhibition is structured in three parts that evoke the architecture of Dante's Divine Comedy. Byron and García Trillos use this allusion to Dante and his work to convey a path that begins with isolation and confinement and rises up toward reunion and expression. The allusion also allows them to explore the inversion of roles that is latent in the relationship between human beings and AI: creations can become creators that can then acquire the ability to shape their creator, who in turn becomes a creation. All in all, the visitor to this exhibition is invited to embark on a creative journey emulating that of the artists', who, like Dante, have gone in search of personal and mysterious corners of the anatomy of their human condition.

This exhibition is supported by the Anna Ballarian Visiting Artist Series.

A free online exhibition book is available here.

FOLLOWING THE THREAD. Rauma, Finland. Based on photographs and interviews with lace-makers from Nyplääjät ry, the murals around the energy station create a link with the mural on the water pumping station, forming a "Lace Pathway" in the park. Following the "thread" of a previous project in Rauma, the murals use lacemaking a metaphor for the making of social fabric.​ Thank you to RaumArs and Finlandia Foundation for supporting this project.

TIERRA DE MUJER SERIES. What goes into growing coffee? In Huila, Colombia, a group of approximately 300 women farmers are working to produce high quality coffee beans from their own microlot farms through environmentally sustainable methods. These women are part of the Mujeres Cafeteras program within the Coocentral Coffee Cooperative, which has about 4,000 families each with their own small coffee farm. While traditionally most coffee farmers are men, this initiative is shifting labor for women in the program from working on household tasks to being entrepreneurial leaders. The paintings are based on interviews and touch on themes related to labor, land ownership, and a deep connection with the earth. 

¿Qué hay detrás del arte de cultivar café? En Huila, Colombia, un grupo de aproximadamente 300 mujeres campesinas trabajan en sus microlotes y producen café de alta calidad usando métodos ambientalmente sostenibles. Estas mujeres forman parte del programa “Mujeres Cafeteras”, una iniciativa de la Cooperativa Coocentral que reúne a cerca de 4000 familias de la región. Si bien tradicionalmente la mayoría de campesinos cafeteros son hombres, esta iniciativa está cambiando los roles laborales de las mujeres de la zona quienes han dejado de dedicar todo su tiempo a completar tareas del hogar y se han convertido en emprendedoras del café.