Though highly educational and professionally generative, my time interning at the Smart Museum of Art was also deeply creatively nourishing. I designed this sticker to convey the resplendent sense of wonder, the shining star of inspiration, that shone over me when I was vetting checklists, writing labels, or taking meeting minutes. Here are some of those biggest influences:
In writing a label on Gabriele Münter’s Fall Landscape Study (1911) for the exhibition Take Care, I got to thinking more about the spiritual resonance of color and the work of depicting interior landscapes of feeling. Münter’s dynamic forms and expressionistic color palette channeled a real view of the mountains into a reflection of her own psychic world. Simultaneously, I was learning about Claudia Weiser’s practice as the Smart put on a retrospective exhibition of her work. Weiser’s drawings and the spiritualist traditions of abstraction she draws from captivated me: the mystical modernism of Hilma af Klint and Emma Kuntz. Such highly intuitive processes had a large bearing over my own.
Finally, the Chicago Imagists’ work in the 1960’s appealed to me greatly with its cartoonish humor and explosive color choices. I was particularly drawn to pieces by Suellen Rocca, such as Cha Cha Couple (1967) and Suellen’s Corness Painting (1967). While writing a label for the former, I was fascinated by the way Rocca developed a “visual language of romance and feminine happiness.” The glyphs she drew from popular media and her childhood drove me to conjure my own iconography for this sticker. Therefore, I inundated the mountain in my drawing with winged creatures of myth, caffeinated potions, abandoned beds, shuttle buses, sad clowns, and more—a pictorial lexicon of the post-adolescent anxieties and adventures of college.
Jad Dahshan is a writer, illustrator and alum of the University of Chicago. They graduated with their MA in Art History in June 2022 and BA in Art History and Chemistry in June 2021. In their time as a UChicago student they engaged the Smart Museum of Art as a Curatorial Intern for exhibitions, Take Care and Museum as Classroom. Additionally, they served on the Smart’s Student Advisory Committee and supported the Art to Live With program. We are beyond excited to have Jad as our Inaugural Alum Sticker Artist of the year and we hope you pick up their fantastical sticker at the Student Activities and Resource Fair on Friday, September 30, 2022 at the Smart Museum of Art table. This is a limited run so don’t miss out!