CAPE Summer Artist WORKROOM Studios 2023

 In The CAPE Blog

Join CAPE and the Summer Artists Arturo Barrera, Jessica Mueller, Joe Barcelona, Thomas Collins, Joseph Spilberg, Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek.

WORKROOM: The CAPE Studio Session
This summer, the CAPE gallery transformed into an open-form studio for CAPE teachers and teaching artists to have space to explore artworks in all disciplines related to their arts-integrated classroom investigations. They expanded on current art projects, experimented and incubated ideas and inklings not possible given the constraints of the school schedule. They built on collaborative work with partners internal and external to CAPE.
The WORKROOM studios bring the work to life for you. Many teaching artists will be on hand to engage you into the work, and provide additional context for you to see how they have developed a concept that will go right to class this year.
Artist Conversation and Workshop New Date! Wednesday, September 6th, 6-8pm. Jessica Mueller and Tony Collins will discuss their works in progress, and Jessica will facilitate an art-making activity.
Regular WORKROOM Hours: July 11 to Sept. 1, 2023, Tuesday through Friday, 11am – 5pm.  Interact with artists, see projects develop, and witness the space transform as concepts materialize, happen, and shift.
Reception: Friday, August 18, 6-9pm.  RSVP and Program details here

CAPE Teaching Artist Joe Barcelona

CAPE Teaching Artist Tony Collins

CAPE Teaching Artist Jessica Mueller

CAPE Teaching Artists Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek

Don’t miss the reception – interact with Qureshi and Zacsek!

Watch video of experimental electrified tools by Qureshi and Zacsek!


Watch Joseph Spilberg’s sound in motion!



Artist Arturo Barrera plans to to work on a series called, The “18th 80’s (A Pil”sin” Experience) Series”, which has several layers of meaning. First, the “18th 80’s” meaning comes from the place/street (18th street) and time (1980’s) I grew up in Pilsen. The second part of the title, “A Pil”sin” Experience” comes from religion and violence that was part of the neighborhood at that time. These are the images I want depicted in my paintings. As an artist, I used the sharp clean lines to produce a sense of stillness in my artwork. The lines, flowing from top to bottom, create motionless in the paintings. The placement of the contrasting colors creates a sense of loneliness and that life has left the places I am painting even though we know people visit these establishments all the time.

Artist Jessica Mueller will use the space to work on an ongoing project, “MotherWords.” “MotherWords” first came about in 2018, after countless trips to big box stores, looking at that all-too-familiar line of home decor items with inspirational sayings that never seemed to fit my family’s experience. I decided to create my own interpretation with the language of my family and community. I began embroidering store-bought washcloths to gift and exhibit when a friend asked if she could have a set for her daughter who was struggling in college being so far away from home. She used the washcloths to clean her face every morning. Reading the words while washing was like hearing her mother’s voice at the start of each day, helping her cultivate a positive routine and outlook. The gift of this story motivated me to make more, continuing to spark heartfelt connections whenever I share them. I’m currently producing a limited edition of 100. All fabric is sustainably sourced.
The WORKROOM will allow the time and space to further develop MotherWords and evolve the A/R P project: the Power of Words + Perseverance, as we plan to work with the same students next year asking: What are the uplifting words we need to hear and see daily? How can problem-solving through embroidery translate into problem-solving and perseverance in our daily lives?”

Artist Joe Barcelona would like to round out his current practice of writing performance scores. “Due to the constriction of content and tone required during the academic year, I would like to use my time at Workroom to explore themes in my personal work that I am unable to access during a typical teaching schedule. This includes a series of medium to large-scale fountain pen illustrations, personal and audience-participatory performance scores, and paper weavings of text excerpts and personal writings combined with illustration and photography. The content of these works primarily concerns medical and psychiatric experience, memory, and links to memetic cultural media (primarily referential to film and writing). Particularly, there is a zine I’ve been developing that I would like to push further in terms of content and universality that I believe could strongly benefit from the collaboration fostered by Workroom.”

Thomas Collins, aka Tony, is a local graffiti artist from the westside of Chicago. I am passionate about the world of art and empowering others to see the world through the eyes of an artist. My goal is to use my voice and my work to empower and encourage young creatives to take up space in this world. Art was the catalyst that helped me to overcome my learning disability. I struggled with spelling and reading comprehension, visuals helped me to learn. Art was my outlet and, in many ways, saved my life.

My work at CAPE is more than a job; I see an extension of myself in the students I am blessed to teach. Providing guidance to young creatives brings things back full circle for me. The kids at cape have stories that are similar to my upbringing; I want every child to know they can accomplish all they set out to do. I hope to help students reach their full potential artistically while motivating students to make good choices.
The WORKROOM will be utilized:
• as a workspace for creating and displaying new artworks and concepts (gallery).
• to create projects to bring back to the classroom
• as a collaborative space to engage with the artists

Joseph Spilberg  will be exploring digital music in the space. “I have been exploring the ways in which music can be created communally to break out of capitalist structures that exist for music making that we inherited from 20th century American culture – the tradition of an audience/performer dynamic, I am interested in how that hierarchy can be flattened. Last year, Jordan Knecht turned me onto the Don Cherry biography ‘Organic Music Societies,’ and I have been toying with these ideas ever since. I want to explore how to create music collaboratively that does not require classical training on an instrument, utilizing highly accessible digital technology such as phone apps, outdated tech from Craigslist purchases, etc., using intuitive approaches to traditional instruments, and/or making music with everyday household objects, found materials or the body. I began with these music making experiments at home with my own kids, with friends and also in my CAPE classes, often as warm-up games, but am hoping to expand on this practice and developing these approaches with students (parents and children) next year. In particular, I am interested in how I (as well as non-musician participants) can draw from lived experience, emotions and imaginary narratives to serve as foundation for music composition, avoiding the trappings of genre specific motifs and techniques.”


Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek “We’ll establish a freeform lab for exploring materiality and technology. We would like to experiment with physical computing (such as a Makey Makey device) and/or digital computing (such as coding) from a more experiential perspective. We’re also open to exploring and working across several other disciplines. During this collaboration we’d like to look more closely at the topic of materiality through the lens of our different artistic practices. Betsy and I would like to use this time to deconstruct Karen Barad ideas further and how they could be used as a framework for our lab. We are really excited by the different types of public engagement this project could generate. Once we create some modules there are endless possibilities for individuals to reshape and recreate new works with our physical or digital stuff!

WORKROOM Images – Timeline

Wednesday, 8/16/23


Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek created electronic implements of art

Watch the short video demonstrating new electrified tools!

Electrified Pieces by Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek


Monday, 8/14/23

Joseph Spilberg

Niema and Betsy have added complex pieces

Jessica Mueller installation

Arturo Barrera prints and paintings

Joe Barcelona soft sculptures

Joe Barcelona zine detail

Monday, 7/17/23

Niema Qureschi and Betsy Zacsek

Joseph Spilberg

Arturo Barrera – The “18th 80’s (A Pil”sin” Experience) Series”

Jessica Mueller – MotherWords and the Power of Words + Perseverance

Monday, 7/10/23

Jessica Mueller

Arturo Barrera

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