Illinois State University Wonsook Kim School of Art presents A Lot & a little, the third exhibition featured at the Illinois State University Student Art Gallery within the Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA), located across from the main entryway inside the terminal building at 3201 E. Empire St., Bloomington. Gallery hours are consistent with the operating hours of the airport. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

A LOT. Memory. Identity. Manipulation. Loss. Amplification. Blackness. Queerness. Resistance. Quiet. a little.

A Lot & a little is a two-student collaborative exhibition. The show features the work of Aaron Caldwell and Zachary Sprenger, both of whom are second-year graduate students currently pursuing degrees in art education at Illinois State University. Their collective exhibition explores the nuances of identity, sexuality, race, history, and how those things are transformed through both time and various experiences.

Aaron Caldwell currently works as a graduate assistant at University Galleries and Illinois Art Station. He is from Fresno, California, and received his bachelor’s degree in general studio art with a minor in art history from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Spring 2019. As an artist, Caldwell is interested in exploring his lived experiences of Blackness and queerness through a space of quiet. Quiet is a term used to describe existing without resistance; the essence and humanity of a person or culture. Caldwell shares in his artist statement that his current work of ceramic pottery and sculpture explores the Black community’s relationship with moisturizing products for the hair and body. Through personal ritualistic routines throughout the day, body lotion and coconut oil is used to avoid being physically ashy (white, dry, and flaky skin). This physical routine has become a social identity as well where being ashy means being ignorant, dumb, or lame. Caldwell highlights this relationship by ornamenting his sculptural vessel forms with glaze that imitates moisturizing products. He allows his audience to consider their own personal relationship with moisturizing products, and to consider a new angle on Black humanity by interacting with artwork that examines Blackness without resistance. Caldwell writes, “I occasionally use zoomorphic forms to create dialogue about gender, orientation, or community. The buffalo represents black men, [the] gazelle represents black women, and the sheep represents queer and non-binary individuals. This work serves as a comforting and personal display of Blackness.” As a future educator, Caldwell plans to teach art primarily to BIPOC and LGBTQIA+youth.

Zachary Sprenger currently works as a graduate assistant at University Galleries. He is from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and received his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in studio art from Northeastern Illinois University in August 2018. A pivotal influence of his visual artwork is taken from his musical background. Sprenger writes in his artist statement that his current multi-media work investigates the relationship of memory and identity through the manipulation of vernacular photographs found in his great-grandparents’ photo albums. The photographs have been altered through various processes of generation loss, which, much like the childhood game of “telephone,” amplifies the acquisition of noise and artifacts through each subsequent copy produced. Sprenger writes, “Though frequently found in lossy compression of digital files today, I first discovered generation loss through 1960s artists manipulating sound with reel-to-reel tape recorders. This influenced my decision to mount the photographs on sound panels/diffusers typically found in audio production studios and used to reduce unwanted “noise.” This work attempts to caricaturize the problem of how the transference of historical narrative across generations frequently depends on the soundness of memory and preservation of images. In making this work, I have explored the potential instability of meaning derived from unreliable modes of communication, preservation, and have aimed to analogically mirror the distortions that occur during cognitive processes of memory formation and recall.”

The Student Art Gallery within Central Illinois Regional Airport is a mission-central component of the Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University. For more information visit FineArts.IllinoisState.Edu/Airport-Gallery. To arrange a special accommodation, please contact the Wonsook Kim School of Art at or (309) 438-5622. Follow the Wonsook Kim School of Art on Facebook.