What is Heaven? What is Hell? How do you get there? Do they even exist? These are questions that collectively occupy human consciousness. These themes often appear in self-taught, folk, and outsider art, driving highly stylized and charged work, in various media. Currently on view, HEAVEN + HELL is an exhibition presented by not one, but two organizations: Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, the only non-profit organization in the U.S. that is devoted to only displaying the work of self-taught and outsider artists. Co-curated by Molly Tarbell, Exhibition Curator, from LUMA, and Jan Petry, Exhibitions Chair at Intuit the exhibition features 165 works of art by American artists. Franciscan Friar, Catholic Priest, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies, Jerry Bleem also accompanies the bunch with an essay written for the exhibition catalog.
Outsider art, also known as "Naïve art" can be defined as art made by self-taught artists who have never been institutionalized or have little to no contact with the art world. The show itself seeks to explore wide range of expression regarding these concepts, as they’ve been invented, wildly imagined, influenced and inspired by popular media, the Bible or any other religious upbringing.
Personally, I find this show very intriguing. I love the idea of these two organizations collaborating and the parallelism between the way they compliment one another to the way Heaven and Hell also conceptually compliment one another. The physical displacement of the exhibition in two separate locations is a great method for getting Chicago to see more art spaces in the city.
In conjunction to the exhibition, LUMA and Intuit have put together a series of lectures, events, and film screenings that will last through the end of June.
Literal Interpretations of Hell
(from the Heaven + Hell film series)
Thursday, April 12 at 6pm
Location: Intuit, 765 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
A film featuring, Jigoku (“The Sinners of Hell”) 1960, directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Commanders of the Cool with Professor Robert Farris Thompson
Saturday, April 21 at 2pm
$10/$5 for Loyola members, students, faculty, and staff
Location: Roosevelt University, Congress Lounge, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
This lecture will explore a Yoruba image equivalent to heaven— an underwater city, Ode Kobaye, where those who lived correctly and generously on earth are rewarded by being transformed into immortal stones of water.
$50/$45 Loyola members, students, faculty, and staff (includes lunch)
Location: Graceland Cemetery, 4001 N. Clark St, Chicago
A tour at Graceland Cemetery— an ideal location for studying post-life from the aesthetic, historical, religious, and philosophical perspectives. Lunch will immediately follow the tour at Deleece Restaurant (4004 N. Southport)
For additional information on Heaven + Hell visit
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
or Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)