American Roulette
American Roulette

Chase Gallery

April 16 to July 18, 2021

American Roulette, which runs from April 16 to July 18 in Chase Gallery, examines gun violence in America. The installation features the work of Michelle Graves, CJ Hungerman, Cesar Conde, Dominic Sansone and Folleh Shar Francis Tamba and includes sculpture, painting and video. These artists believe that violence and disregard for life have become so ingrained in American culture that our collective consciousness is now shaped by paranoia and fear. The media we consume numbs us and the suffering endured by others becomes nothing more than flickering images on a screen, slowly turning our desensitization to apathy and fascination. Our cities are awash in cheap weapons and if you want one, you can typically get it, legally or otherwise.

American Roulette explores our current state of affairs, our gun-culture and our kneeling at the altar of hate and intolerance. It also stands as a monument to all the victims; past, present and future. The artists in this exhibition offer provocative imagery that is intended to encourage community dialog and inspire positive action. Rather than seeking to convert viewers to their point of view, they welcome and explore all perspectives.

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about the artists

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About the Artists

Cesar Conde In The Bang Bang Project, Cesar Conde reacted to Michael Brown’s death. Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The series is a powerful repudiation of the police brutality and social Injustice inflicted on black and brown bodies. These paintings also reflect on Langston Hughes poem, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred?” In this short poem, Hughes explores the aspirations of people of color and the consequences that might arise if those hopes and dreams don’t come to fruition because of a life cut short. Conde, a product of Filipino diaspora, landed on Chicago’s west side at the age of 9. The following year, he relocated to Washington where he participated in Seattle’s first school busing integration program and had his first experiences with racism. Often bullied and picked on for his size, color and accent, Cesar relied on silence and invisibility. These early experiences ignited Conde’s passion for justice and planted the seeds for him to become a contemporary painter dealing with relevant social issues. Cesar studied at Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. He also studied with the French master, Patrick Betaudier in his atelier in southern France and with Ed Hinkley in Chicago. His artwork has been exhibited internationally. Conde currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. CJ Hungerman CJ Hungerman’s mixed media paintings of visual riot address the trauma and chaos that follows in the wake of every senseless shooting and every death. These paintings take the audience on a sensory and stunning trip that brings a new experience with every viewing. His use of dissonant colors and flat shapes creates the illusion of a three dimensional surreal environment. The medley of colors and intermingling shapes represents the diversity of people residing in our communities and demonstrates the way all of us can interact with each other as we traverse through the friction of life. Hungerman, originally from Pittsburgh, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from West Virginia University, a Bachelor of Science degree from West Liberty State College, and completed his Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Northern Illinois University. CJ has long resided in the picturesque town of Geneva Illinois with his wife and children. In the last several years CJ has made a name for himself in the Chicago public art scene with several commissioned works including a mural for the new Chinatown Library in Chicago, funded by the Mayor’s Office and the City of Chicago as well as nearly 2000 square feet of paintings for the Islamic Food & Nutrition Council of America. Dominic Sansone Dominic Sansone fills spaces with oversized and garishly painted handguns and assault rifles, forcing viewers to acknowledge the absurdity of their influence in our culture. These objects transform spaces into preposterous shrines dedicated to glorified violence. His visually stunning sculptures call attention to the dangers and peculiarities of living in a society that profits and thrives on violence and bloodshed. Dominic is best known for his room-filling installations and repetitive cast objects that combine to create an industrial mass-produced sensibility to his sculpture. His thinking and approach to art making are heavily influenced by his time spent working in the Aerospace industry. Sansone holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and a Master of Fine Arts from the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Dominic has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions across the United States. Originally from the South Side of Chicago, Dominic now lives in St. Charles Illinois with his wife and two sons. Michelle Graves Michelle Grave’s series A Life Is A Life is an embodiment of gun violence with both the gun holder and victim present – a silent and frozen moment in chaos and the ending of a consciousness. In any act of gun violence, the common denominators are a gun and a life. To create the four artworks in this exhibition, Graves used easily accessible, common household guns to shoot a group of pig hearts. She captured each act of violence as a splatter on a canvas that she has paired with each heart. Graves is an interdisciplinary artist whose work ranges from formulaic text-based drawings and paintings to anatomical drawings to deeply researched multimedia installations. She is inspired by the unknown in topics like quantum physics and physiology and intersects concepts with existentialism in her artwork. Graves explodes any given subject into pieces and digs through until she finds a path to it’s simplicity – a conclusion of sorts. She received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College, Chicago, and a BFA in Photography from Indiana University. She now resides in Las Vegas, NV. Folleh Shar Francis Tamba Folleh Shar Francis Tamba’s We are the Infantry is like white stock letters against the dark background of a world where infantrymen are masters of gun violence and apply it accordingly as trigger pullers. As a decorated Marine who was injured in Iraq, Tamba’s collection of memories and nightmares are processed, distilled and morphed into a variety of visual formats. This video piece, We are the Infantry, provides a look at the stark reality of modern combat through the lens of his personal experience. Tamba was born in Chicago and spent his early life in Liberia, Africa. The experiences of that country’s civil war and subsequent intervention by the United States Marine Corps, inspired him to enlist in 2003. Tamba went on to receive the Purple Heart for his service in the Iraq War. He received two bachelor degrees in Film and Justice Studies from Columbia College, Chicago and his MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia. Also a director and writer, he is known for his films Triangle of Death (2009), The Process (2016) and The Line of Departure (2011).

About the Artists

Cesar Conde In The Bang Bang Project, Cesar Conde reacted to Michael Brown’s death. Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The series is a powerful repudiation of the police brutality and social Injustice inflicted on black and brown bodies. These paintings also reflect on Langston Hughes poem, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred?” In this short poem, Hughes explores the aspirations of people of color and the consequences that might arise if those hopes and dreams don’t come to fruition because of a life cut short. Conde, a product of Filipino diaspora, landed on Chicago’s west side at the age of 9. The following year, he relocated to Washington where he participated in Seattle’s first school busing integration program and had his first experiences with racism. Often bullied and picked on for his size, color and accent, Cesar relied on silence and invisibility. These early experiences ignited Conde’s passion for justice and planted the seeds for him to become a contemporary painter dealing with relevant social issues. Cesar studied at Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. He also studied with the French master, Patrick Betaudier in his atelier in southern France and with Ed Hinkley in Chicago. His artwork has been exhibited internationally. Conde currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. CJ Hungerman CJ Hungerman’s mixed media paintings of visual riot address the trauma and chaos that follows in the wake of every senseless shooting and every death. These paintings take the audience on a sensory and stunning trip that brings a new experience with every viewing. His use of dissonant colors and flat shapes creates the illusion of a three dimensional surreal environment. The medley of colors and intermingling shapes represents the diversity of people residing in our communities and demonstrates the way all of us can interact with each other as we traverse through the friction of life. Hungerman, originally from Pittsburgh, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from West Virginia University, a Bachelor of Science degree from West Liberty State College, and completed his Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Northern Illinois University. CJ has long resided in the picturesque town of Geneva Illinois with his wife and children. In the last several years CJ has made a name for himself in the Chicago public art scene with several commissioned works including a mural for the new Chinatown Library in Chicago, funded by the Mayor’s Office and the City of Chicago as well as nearly 2000 square feet of paintings for the Islamic Food & Nutrition Council of America. Dominic Sansone Dominic Sansone fills spaces with oversized and garishly painted handguns and assault rifles, forcing viewers to acknowledge the absurdity of their influence in our culture. These objects transform spaces into preposterous shrines dedicated to glorified violence. His visually stunning sculptures call attention to the dangers and peculiarities of living in a society that profits and thrives on violence and bloodshed. Dominic is best known for his room-filling installations and repetitive cast objects that combine to create an industrial mass-produced sensibility to his sculpture. His thinking and approach to art making are heavily influenced by his time spent working in the Aerospace industry. Sansone holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and a Master of Fine Arts from the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Dominic has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions across the United States. Originally from the South Side of Chicago, Dominic now lives in St. Charles Illinois with his wife and two sons. Michelle Graves Michelle Grave’s series A Life Is A Life is an embodiment of gun violence with both the gun holder and victim present – a silent and frozen moment in chaos and the ending of a consciousness. In any act of gun violence, the common denominators are a gun and a life. To create the four artworks in this exhibition, Graves used easily accessible, common household guns to shoot a group of pig hearts. She captured each act of violence as a splatter on a canvas that she has paired with each heart. Graves is an interdisciplinary artist whose work ranges from formulaic text-based drawings and paintings to anatomical drawings to deeply researched multimedia installations. She is inspired by the unknown in topics like quantum physics and physiology and intersects concepts with existentialism in her artwork. Graves explodes any given subject into pieces and digs through until she finds a path to it’s simplicity – a conclusion of sorts. She received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College, Chicago, and a BFA in Photography from Indiana University. She now resides in Las Vegas, NV. Folleh Shar Francis Tamba Folleh Shar Francis Tamba’s We are the Infantry is like white stock letters against the dark background of a world where infantrymen are masters of gun violence and apply it accordingly as trigger pullers. As a decorated Marine who was injured in Iraq, Tamba’s collection of memories and nightmares are processed, distilled and morphed into a variety of visual formats. This video piece, We are the Infantry, provides a look at the stark reality of modern combat through the lens of his personal experience. Tamba was born in Chicago and spent his early life in Liberia, Africa. The experiences of that country’s civil war and subsequent intervention by the United States Marine Corps, inspired him to enlist in 2003. Tamba went on to receive the Purple Heart for his service in the Iraq War. He received two bachelor degrees in Film and Justice Studies from Columbia College, Chicago and his MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia. Also a director and writer, he is known for his films Triangle of Death (2009), The Process (2016) and The Line of Departure (2011).