Liz McCarthy: The Pen






















Liz McCarthy: Pens

November 5 – December 9

Exhibition reception TBA

“The Pen” uses clay and carpet to create a site for material play. The rug in this installation acts as a synthetic ground and compositional confinement for the sculptural clay pieces. The carpet is an artifact of a Midwestern suburban home, where the carpet exists as a material for making the space comfortable, safe, and clean to protect the body, but is also produced from man made materials derived from petroleum, synthetic material designed to repel naturally occurring materials. The clay, pulled from the earth’s crust, acts in resistance to the surface, by marking and embedding itself into the synthetic fibers, producing a filthy site of production.

The clay objects that emerge in “The Pen” are collaborative experiments in form, celebrating the act of mess making and material play. For this particular installation, students and community members are invited to participate in “clay play”, shaping the materials with suggested gestures and forms from the artist that reference ceramic hand-building traditions. After the initial “Clay Play” building of forms, the material, comprised of wet, dry, and fired clay, shift and change on the site as the clay dries and crumbles.

Liz McCarthy works across disciplines to explore themes around the materiality of human bodies, and their complicated physical and psychological relationship to a material world. Through research and studio intervention, she explores how different materials develop meaning through use and origin, and how physical performance can be used as an agent to re-inscribe meaning. Liz McCarthy received her MFA from the UIC studio art program.  Her work has been included various group and solo exhibitions internationally at venues such as ACRE Projects, Heaven Gallery, Roots and Culture, Mana Contemporary, Gallery 400, ExGirlfriend Gallery, and Threewalls. She has visited as a resident artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts, ACRE, High Concept Laboratories, Ox-bow and Banff Centre. In October of 2017 she will be hosting a “Whistle Hangout” performance at the MCA (more info here:

Project made possible by Ceramic Supply Chicago

RAC FlexSpace: Paula Henderson

September 5 – October 7, 2017
Opening Reception: Sunday, September 10, 3-6pm

With her recent series Groundwork, Henderson returns to her ongoing interest in abstraction within a post-modern framework. In contrast to the self-contained formalism of modernism, she focuses on prosaic, schematic patterns of formal appeal that operate simultaneously as social signifiers.

In the Groundwork paintings, Henderson utilizes the distinct patterning from the soles of shoes to think about the very particularity and variety of design that goes into the literal marking (and marketing) of our movement on the ground. In her artist’s statement about this body of work, Henderson notes:

“I record these patterns as I find them, oftentimes a chaotic mix of partial prints and in other sites ordered, discernable designs. This manufactured residue that marks us routinely across space in time, though on the one hand quite ordinary, fascinates me as vestigial configurations of our collective history.

Additionally, I am focused on how these tread patterns act as social signifiers. They are variously studied in forensic science to identify/profile a wearer as suspect. They often serve as distinguishing social and cultural markers by the preponderance of brand patterns marking style trends/ movement in particular neighborhoods in Chicago where I live and work. This brand(ing) of place follows our movement and conditionally holds our histories in sand, rain, snow, concrete, and mud. I am interested in how these surface iconographies- prosaic, routine, overlooked- act as hieroglyphic narratives of our collectivity and markers, as well, of our spatial disparities.

Not insignificantly they resonate with the flow of human activity as witnessed in social migrations/diasporas.

And finally, the range/progression of the Groundwork series from decipherable, ordered, schematic designs to layered ‘remixes’ of partials dispersed within shadows, puts me in mind of human planning- initiated in the abstract by a few with a discrete objective- that once deployed sets in motion unforeseen outcomes for the many.”


RAC Kids Show in FlexSpace!


Exhibition Dates for both Annual Members Show + RAC Kids Show:

July 1st – August 5, 2017

*Artists’ Reception is on Saturday, July 15, 3-6pm


Our annual Members Exhibition and RAC Kids Show will take place July 1-August 5, 2017.  We invited all current RAC members and students to submit artwork for display.  The RAC community looks forward to this exhibition every year, because it celebrates and showcases the creations of our talented supporters and students. Come check it out!

Annual Members Show in the Freeark Gallery +  Rac Kids Show in FlexSpace

Exhibitions run July 1st – August 5, 2017

Artists’ Reception: Saturday, July 15, 3-6pm


Laura Husar Garcia: Wishes

RAC FlexSpace

May 21 – June 24, 2017

Reception: Sunday, May 21, 3-6pm

HusarGarcia_This is the Wonder

Curated by Kim Piotrowski

The Riverside Arts Center is pleased to present a premier solo exhibition of photographs by Laura Husar Garcia in our FlexSpace Gallery.

Artist Statement:

“Several years ago, I collected hundreds of smooth, flat stones for my mother when she became a widow.  I placed them in a simple box for her to keep.  Whenever we felt the need, we walked down the hill and made wishes in the pond below the family cabin.  The box of wishes burned in a massive house fire, yet the stones remained.  This gave me a continued sense of hope, enabling me to make new wishes from what once was, while rebuilding our home.  With each toss of a stone, the universal symbol of the circle came forth in a consistent response with expanding ripples, a reminder of the eternal and infinite.  My favorite time is dusk, when water reflects the day’s end with a deep blue.  Entitled Wishes, this work stems from a blend of melancholy and yearning, focusing on the past, present and future.  For me, the blue that quietly develops at dusk is soothing, contemplative, and spiritual.  The physical expression of tossing stones in the water is an act of mediation with the seen and unseen.”  ~Laura Husar Garcia, May 2017

Laura Husar Garcia has documented the intimacies of the human spirit and the beauty of nature for more than 25 years.  Her photography has been exhibited widely, including Fotofever at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, France, The Polish Museum of America in Chicago, Photo Indepenent in Los Angeles, California, The Rangefinder Gallery in Chicago, Tilt Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, Galeria el Zocalo in Santa Fe, New Mexico and LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, Oregon, among others.


Laura is co-winner of a 1st place Community Grant from the Illinois Humanities Council and a 2015 Photolucida Critical Mass top 200 finalist.  Her photographs have been published in several books, including “America At Home: A Close-up Look at How We Live”, which is one of the largest collaborative photographic projects in publishing history.  Her work has also been published in The New York Times, National Geographic Magazine, Newsweek, Slate Magazine, and several other publications and books.  Laura has been a photo editor for various workshops including The Chicago Photography Center and a portfolio reviewer at Columbia College in Chicago.  She was a photographer in Santa Fe, NM, for more than ten years, where her foundation as an artist took root, before moving to Chicago where she became a photo editor at The Chicago Tribune.  Currently Laura is the co-founder and Creative Director of Three Story Media and she lives in Riverside, IL.

Her work will be exhibited in Platform Gallery’s “Staged”, a group show in Evantston, IL in conjunction with Evanston Made on June 3rd.

More of her work can be seen at




Kevin Blake: What The Cool Pigeon Knows

RAC FlexSpace
March 5 – April 15, 2017
Reception: Sunday, March 5, 3-6pm
Curated by Kim Piotrowski

Kevin Blake. "Raving Through A Suite Of Smokeless Husbands," 2016. Oil on Paper, 26" x 26".

Kevin Blake. “Raving Through A Suite Of Smokeless Husbands,” 2016. Oil on Paper, 26″ x 26.”

Read an interview with Kevin Blake on the Other People’s Pixels Blog here.

All the novelty of history coalesces in the present moment–as a distillation of that which preceded it. This pastiche, or visual cuing of past narratives, has arrived on a platform unrecognizable to the history it propagates. In “What The Cool Pigeon Knows,”  artist Kevin Blake presents a traditionally beheld painting vernacular as a means of synthesizing this collage with the use of recycled imagery from the collective past. The characters in these paintings are developed from the hard-working, strong, but nevertheless remote-controlled heroes of the post-World War II fringes and subsequently, post-war American idealism, which continues to infiltrate the cumulative psychology. These works look to film noir, pulp fiction, and the birth of advertising as a platform for projecting the viewer into a dialogue about time, and the affect of language on the human operating system from a generational vantage point.

In a world in which the wheel of events rolls on so rapidly, in which contradictory information slides by our eyes on effervescent screens, and in which constitutions and dynasties are dissolved in mere moments–the individual has become the sole proprietor and patron of belief.  “What The Cool Pigeon Knows” highlights this responsibility–the everyday task of asking oneself why you believe what you believe, and applying those conclusions to the world you see in front of you.

About the artist

Kevin Blake lives in Chicago. He received his MFA in 2014 at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, his MA in Art Eduction in 2011 and BFA in 2004 at SAIC, Chicago.  He has exhibited his work in Chicago the last few years and is a contributing writer at Bad at Sports and New City.



When: Saturday, Jan 7, 2-4pm in the RAC Flex Space and Freeark Gallery

You and your toys can make drawings together!

Have any wind-up toys at your house that you want to bring in? Want to make your own machine? Bring any and all with you to the RAC this Saturday for our Family Day Workshop: we’ll supply brushes, tape, paint and LARGE pieces of paper, and snacks, lots of tasty snacks and hot cider!

Want to try this at home? Here are some ideas on Pinterest: , and here’s a simple drawing robot design using littlebits.

RAC Flex: Keep Your Eye on This Space!

RAC’s FlexSpace is a multi-use space that mirrors RAC’s mission to promote artists and educate the public about art. It is used for exhibitions, performances, readings, classes, public events, outreach initiatives, and more! We think of it as a space of possibility and a place for thinking outside the box when it comes to the arts and art education. So keep your eye on this space and if you haven’t already signed up to receive RAC updates, click here to be added to our mailing list!

Upcoming in FlexSpace 2017:

Exhibition by Kevin Blake, March 5-April 15

Exhibition by Laura Husar Garcia, May 21 – June 24

Annual RAC Kids’ Show, July 2- August 5

Exhibition by Paula Henderson, September 10 – October 21

RAC Kids Art Show


June 26-July 23, 2016
Reception: Sunday, June 26, 3-6pm

The RAC Kids Art Show is one of our favorite events of the year! Kids enrolled at RAC art camp, current students under the age of 18, and budding young artists with family memberships are all given the chance to exhibit their artworks in the RAC’s beautiful new Flex Space. The show runs through Saturday, July 23 and is open Tu-Sat, 1-5pm. Check in with the Attendant at the Freeark Gallery next door to gain access to the exhibition.