Tender Irritant

Claire Ashley, Judith Brotman, and Cameron Clayborn
Monday, December 20Wednesday, January 12


Tender Irritant is the reaction to Soft Allergy.  

This presentation is born out of the collaboration of individual practices. In a series of call and response interactions, where edges are present yet hard to determine, the artists in this exhibition have pushed and pulled, upending and uplifting each other's practices. Meeting every three weeks over zoom since 2020, the artists developed the show virtually and by trading material and works in the mail along with toiling in their studios. 

This work is created from material made for the related exhibition, Soft Allergy, on view now at Columbia College’s Glass Curtain Gallery, where each artist has worked on, embellished, painted, sewed into, and/or incorporated work inside of another’s object. These actions spur a number of comfortable and uncomfortable relationships that are optimistically dark bringing out issues of gender, race, and material. Produced in the same manner as Soft Allergy, the work in Tender Irritant acts as a phantom appendage functioning as both companion and vigorous reaction. 

Tender Irritant will be viewable only through the street-level windows of SAIC Galleries from December 24 to January 3. In-gallery visits will be available by appointment from December 20–23 and January 4–12.

This project is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency with the National Endowment for the Arts.


Soft Allergy
November 11, 2021–February 18, 2022
Glass Curtain Gallery–Columbia College Chicago
1104 S. Wabash Ave., 1st Floor
Gallery Hours:
Monday–Wednesday, Friday, 9 am–5 pm
Thursday, 9 am–7pm
In observance of the holidays, the gallery will be closed from December 20, 2021, to January 5, 2022

Tender Irritant
December 20, 2021–January 12, 2022
SAIC Galleries
33 E. Washington St.
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm

Cameron Clayborn was born in 1992 and was raised in Memphis, TN. He lives and works in New Haven, CT. Clayborn’s practice addresses the relationship that vulnerability has to power. His work is materially rooted, and combines elements of Postminimalism, craft, performance, and spirituality. He has exhibited nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions and venues including Art Basel Statements with Simone Subal Gallery in Basel, Switzerland, where Clayborn was awarded the Baloise Art Prize, Simone Subal Gallery in New York, and Boyfriends in Chicago. He has shown in group exhibitions at venues including Bradley Ertaskiran in Montréal; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Stuttgart, Germany; Casemore Kirkeby in San Francisco; FIAC with Simone Subal Gallery in Paris; Mildred’s Lane in Beach Lake, PA; Magenta Plains in New York; and Heaven Gallery in Chicago among others. Clayborn will be mounting a solo exhibition in 2022 at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

Judith Brotman is a multidisciplinary artist and educator from Chicago. Her work frequently occupies a space between abstraction and figuration, deterioration and regeneration, elegance and awkwardness, generosity and obligation. She has exhibited at venues including Indiana University Northwest; Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, MN; Hampshire College in Amherst, MA; The Society of Arts & Crafts in Boston; Asphodel Gallery in Brooklyn; and the DeVos Art Museum in Marquette, MI; as well as Smart Museum of Art, RUSCHWOMAN, Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Threewalls, Slow Gallery, Chicago Cultural Center, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Chicago, Chicago Artists Coalition, Hyde Park Art Center, and Gallery 400 all in Chicago. Brotman’s work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Illinois State Museum, and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection as well as in many private collections. Brotman received her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies where she currently teaches.

Claire Ashley received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland. Originally from Edinburgh, Ashley is now based in Chicago. Currently, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Contemporary Practices and in the Department of Painting and Drawing. Ashley’s work investigates inflatables as painting, sculpture, installation, and performance costume. Her works have been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries, museums, site-specific installations, performances, and collaborations at venues including Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, England; Art Basel in Kassel, Germany; Rockelmann & Partner in Berlin, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR; Illinois State University Galleries in Normal, IL; DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA; ICEBOX Crane Arts in Philadelphia; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Additionally, her work has been exhibited in Scotland at The House for an Art Lover in Glasgow, gallerA1 in Edinburgh, and the Highland Institute for Contemporary Art in Inverness.


[Work pictured: Cameron Clayborn, (judith, claire, and me), 2021, paper, velcro, and vinyl, 13" x 12.5" x 11.]