Review: Protest Art Exhibit Enables Visitors to Support Ukraine at Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

A popup art exhibit combining submitted protest art with contributions from visitors of all ages is making a statement in support of Ukraine at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. The exhibit is paired with the exhibit Wanting It / Both Ways, featuring the work of four artists, in UIMA’s second gallery.

The protest art exhibit, displayed in the East Gallery where work from UIMA’s permanent collection is usually shown, has a casual, spontaneous look. The amateur messages of wildly varying skill levels and creativity—but definite passion—are in conversation with the larger works of protest art, which show outcries against the war as well as images of freedom fighters, flags and a “theater of war,” constructed in tabletop size. The gallery also has a virtual exhibit of protest art.

“Theater of War 2003” by Anya Antonovych Metcalf. Assemblage 8×11.5×8. On loan from the artist.

UIMA provides tables with paper, markers and tape, plus notebooks, where visitors can create protest art or write their thoughts about Russia’s war on Ukraine and about the exhibit. 

The exhibit came about when UIMA announced a call to voice one’s protest over the war in Ukraine through various expressive mediums, such as art, writing, poetry, and material culture items for display in the East Gallery. This call was not limited to artists and creatives, and they encouraged everyone who is interested and has something to say about the current state of the world to participate. If you are interested in submitting a work, contact both curator Adrienne Kochman at adrienne@uima-chicago.org and assistant curator Christina Wyshnytzky at christina@uima-chicago.org. The staff determines which accepted works will be shown in the gallery and which will be displayed on social media.

Gallery view with work tables where visitors can create their own protest art.

The Wanting It / Both Ways exhibit in the West Gallery features work by Bill Conger, Tanya Hastings Gill, Mie Kongo and Jennifer Mannebach. The theme of their work is contending with a desire to capture a sense of the fugitive, often in fragmentary forms. The work represents “the desire to have it both ways, to hold still for a moment in time, just long enough to see what gathers at the edges before releasing it into another … state.” 

Wanting It / Both Ways installation view with Mie Kongo work in foreground.

The work is varied in media. Kongo’s three-dimensional pieces are constructed of porcelain, wood, wool felt, metal and paint, while Mannebach’s tend to be drafting film, paper, graphite and acrylic paint. Many of Gill’s pieces are thread darned into found cloth, while Conger’s work includes paintings using ink and gesso on canvas as well as framed sketch books.

The four artists will give an artist talk on the exhibit on Saturday, May 21, from 1 to 3pm at the gallery.

Jennifer Mannebach, Act as Usual, 2022, drafting film, paper, paint, graphite. 80×102 in.

Both the Ukraine protest exhibit and Wanting It / Both Ways will be on view until June 4. The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, located at 2320 W. Chicago Ave., is open 12-4pm Wednesday-Sunday. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. 

Photos by Nancy Bishop.

Did you enjoy this post and our coverage of Chicago’s arts scene? Please consider supporting Third Coast Review’s arts and culture coverage by making a donation by PayPal. Choose the amount that works best for you, and know how much we appreciate your support!

Default image
Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at nancybishopsjournal.com, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.