At 23, Shama has moved 18 times, and lived with 25 different people. Constant movement and adaptation has lead to an obsession in observing and researching her surroundings- be that pattern her neighborhood’s blocks form, the material history of Chicago Standard Bricks, the variation of floorplans between units in her building, the nearest hill and how people, animals and plants interact with it, distinctions between each station on a trainline and its effects on the neighborhood’s psychogeography, the nearest magnolia tree, the pervasive loss of two flats to single family homes, the changing of the seasons through the tree outside her window, the shape of an ice block formed under dryer exhaust in January.
She’s enamored by the concreteness of midwestern architecture and the simultaneous fluidity of these spaces in their daily uses. These interests materialize through hand-crafted objects- manifesting in forms such as architectural textile investigations, fabric structures and stone chairs. Often utilizing repurposed materials of significance, such as her mom’s work pants, naturally occurring Catskills Shale repetitively carried to the site of a building project, salvaged Great Lakes white pine, her girlfriends’ tattered sweater.
Using craft as an oppositional force against mass manufacturing, she’s fascinated by the material histories of discarded materials and the architecture of scraps. Her recent work explores, mirrors and disrupts the visual matrices of the gridded city (through the icons of city blocks, brickwork, window arrays, park paths, maps). Constructing said icons with non-traditional building materials, forming an exchange between public/private, interior/exterior, man made/natural. She explores memory, obsolescence, weather patterns, the passage of time, and Jewish philosophy through the manipulation of alternative architectural forms, quilting, layered applique and embroidery. Utilizing the act of binding multiple layers together through a series of stitches, Shama embeds these varying narratives together.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Shama Kipfer-Tessler was born in San Francisco, raised in and around the northside neighborhoods of Chicago. Shama hails from a large [chosen and biological] family of builders, butches, educators, freaks, conservationists, Jewish creatives and midwesterners. She is a Chicago-based artist and gallery installation tech, currently in her final year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is studying functional craft, fiber and furniture making.
© Shama Kipfer-Tessler