Students at the Material Alchemy booth

2024’s EXPO x SAIC Presents Emerging Artists and Curators

EXPO CHICAGO, the international exhibition of modern and contemporary art, is the largest midwestern art fair, and continuously cements Chicago as a global art center. Returning this year, the fair took over Navy Pier’s Festival Hall with lots of chances to connect with School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) artists–including the annual EXPO x SAIC booth. The exhibition, Material Alchemy, featured artists who experiment with the transformative capacities of their chosen materials—and the works were both created and curated by SAIC students. From found objects to an ever-changing wet-clay vessel, the pieces on view explored the ways materials evoke emotion, memories, and ideas beyond their physical forms.

Material Alchemy presents work by students Rex Delafkaran, Eugene I-Peng Tang, and Sangwoo Yoo. The artists manipulate and transform each object, removing its original context, and offering each a new lifecycle—enabling each artist to become a modern day alchemist. The exhibition was curated by current students Gemma Kim, Maya Ortiz Saucedo, Anna Vetoshkina, and Charles Clark III, and was chosen from a number of proposals submitted in SAIC’s Advanced Curatorial Practice course taught by Bana Kattan (MA 2011).

Here, you can meet the featured artists, learn about the pieces on view at EXPO x SAIC, and find out more opportunities for encountering SAIC artists at EXPO. 

Wet-clay vessel

Image courtesy of Megan Kirby.

Rex Delafkaran
Sculpture MFA
Maintenance Against All Odds (A pedestal strong enough to hold the weight of histories)
Hot Bowl (Swallowing the Sun)

Rex Delafkaran is an Iranian-American artist and dancer. Her work engages with hybrid forms, narratives, and language. Maintenance Against All Odds (A pedestal strong enough to hold the weight of histories) is a wet-clay vessel that visitors are asked to maintain with an accompanied spray bottle of water. Throughout the time of its display, the vessel is kept from hardening. It remains malleable and incomplete. 

Installation view of Reframing Documentary

Image courtesy of Megan Kirby.

Eugene I-Peng Tang
Photography MFA
Untitled #3
Renovating Kinship
The Display of Remnant

Eugene I-Peng Tang is a Taiwanese artist based in Chicago whose work considers intimate encounters and unconventional relationships. Through a collection of prints and found objects, Reframing Documentary investigates the balances and imbalances within social structures and non-biological kinships. 

Installation view of Portrait of Loss

Image courtesy of Megan Kirby.

Sangwoo Yoo
Sculpture MFA
Portrait of Loss (ghost)(#untitled)
Portrait of Loss (screwed)
Portrait of Loss (ghost)(#strata)
Portrait of Loss (#horizontal time)

Sangwoo Yoo is a Korean artist currently based in Chicago. His sculptural and installation practice merges his interests in nature and archaeology. Portrait of Loss (ghost)(#strata) is a collection of prints and sculpture made from a discarded christmas tree and plants. Broken down into dust that emits pine scent, along with self-made paper prints, each object will fade through the exhibition’s duration, and later return to the earth. 

EXPO featured more SAIC community members throughout the weekend, many of which are listed below: 

Conversations included SAIC community members Professor Emeritus Candida Alvarez, Omar Velázquez (MFA 2016), Stephanie and Bill Sick Professor of Fashion, Body and Garment Nick Cave, Theaster Gates (HON 2014), Crown Family Professor of Painting and Drawing Michelle Grabner, Jenny Kendler (MFA 2006), and John Paul Morabito (MFA 2013). 

IN/SITU features large-scale sculpture, video, film and site-specific works. This year, Claudia Peña Salinas’ (BFA 1999) Atli Temoayan series was one of the works on view.

OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project
For the 10th edition of the citywide public art initiative OVERRIDE, 10 artists were featured, including Yuge Zhou (MFA 2015), Judy Ledgerwood (MFA 1984), and Jada-Amina (BFA 2020).

Curatorial Initiatives
These initiatives featured Lecturer Alberto Aguilar (BFA 1997, MFA 2001), Lecturer Alexandria Eregbu (BFA 2013, MA 2022), and S.Y. Lim (BFA 2017).

Screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center
Through the week, there will be additional EXPO programming throughout the city, including a screening at SAIC's Gene Siskel Film Center.