School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21  School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21  School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21  School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21

By Elise Butterfield

When immersed in making something, my brain and hands and heart are braided tightly. It feels like I can access the divinity of everythingness. – Juniper Moneypenny


In “What Makes an Artist?” Matt Manalo and Juniper Moneypenny explore their own practices of artmaking and community building. They directly push against the relentless infiltration of capitalism into art through a commitment to community-building, activism and resource sharing. These artists find meaning not in the silo of the solo studio, but in exchange—of story, of material, even of confession and pain.

“What Makes an Artist?” is a generous peek into the journal of two thoughtful artist-hybrids as they navigate institutions, identity, and community. Manalo and Moneypenny in their own ways begin to articulate the dream of an art world not held captive by the interests and the taste of the wealthy. Lofty in their belief of the power of art, and grounded in the reality of its current inaccessibility, their artistic practice is one of self-inquiry, service, witness, abundance, facilitation, witchcraft, and more. For them, it is not the single-authored masterpiece that makes an artist, but the devotion to creating in myriad forms.

By Elise Butterfield

When immersed in making something, my brain and hands and heart are braided tightly. It feels like I can access the divinity of everythingness. – Juniper Moneypenny


In “What Makes an Artist?” Matt Manalo and Juniper Moneypenny explore their own practices of artmaking and community building. They directly push against the relentless infiltration of capitalism into art through a commitment to community-building, activism and resource sharing. These artists find meaning not in the silo of the solo studio, but in exchange—of story, of material, even of confession and pain.

“What Makes an Artist?” is a generous peek into the journal of two thoughtful artist-hybrids as they navigate institutions, identity, and community. Manalo and Moneypenny in their own ways begin to articulate the dream of an art world not held captive by the interests and the taste of the wealthy. Lofty in their belief of the power of art, and grounded in the reality of its current inaccessibility, their artistic practice is one of self-inquiry, service, witness, abundance, facilitation, witchcraft, and more. For them, it is not the single-authored masterpiece that makes an artist, but the devotion to creating in myriad forms.





Matt
Manalo /
Repurposed: How found material
made my work possible



I graduated from the University of Houston in 2011 with my BFA in painting, and as soon as I left, I lost my main source of materials. While I was a student, I commuted daily from my parents’ house to school, during which I would take a shortcut through a small area that served as a garbage room for graduate students. There I would find materials students tossed: discarded or ripped canvas, cut wood to build stretchers, old sketchbooks, piles of used paper. It wasn’t until one day when a student decided to get rid of many stretchers that I finally understood this room as a source for material as opposed to garbage collection. That day, I picked up the discarded stretchers and brought them to my studio with so much excitement because I didn’t need to purchase new materials to make my own work.

During this time, I had approximately a 10-by-10 foot studio at the university. Even though studios were communal spaces, there was just enough room for a single person to move around if they had their belongings piled up. The works I was making at the time were small in size because of space constraints. They were also mostly made from discarded raw canvas I found in the graduate students’ dumpster, some of which had already been used and had marks on them. I eventually incorporated those existing marks into my work’s aesthetic and they simply became part of my practice. Other materials I was using at the time included charcoal, graphite, wood glue, and gesso because those were the art supplies that were most accessible to me.







Juniper Moneypenny /
Living through this:
On art and artlessness
during a pandemic



content disclosure: this piece
contains themes related to
medical trauma, illness, and death

Is it enough to work out for myself what this was and what could be possible?

I have made a career inside of hospital rooms, making art at bedsides and over tray tables, alongside young people who, as one child’s mother lithely put it, “are in need of encouragement.” When I meet a new client for the first time, it is oftentimes at a moment when the scaffolding holding them up is being tested, with varying specificities of cruelty or chaos. Colliding at this intersection between an old reality and a new one, I envision myself an engineer-witch hybrid. I am invited inside someone’s figurative and literal space, touching surfaces and their insides, pressing my ear to a structure under strain, asking with readied gentleness: tell me where the tender places are, I can hold whatever you can stand to show me. These first moments with someone loom enormous in my memories yet with enough of them lined up on a sunny windowsill, they are heartbreakingly ordinary treasures. There is a poetry to learning to read these beginnings of people’s stories, I joke that I am a trained human divination machine, analyzing and absorbing signs and symbols. Instead of studying stars or bones, I work off the sound of an inhale or the timing of a hard swallow, the direction of a loose gaze, and the weight of the negative shapes we are talking carefully around. I have practiced recognizing the preciousness and precariousness of other people’s stories’ beginning. In the moments we gather ourselves enough to overcome the threshold of unsaying, we are put squarely in view. This work will embroider a respect for such courage into your being.



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