Lee Godie: Self Portraits exhibit opens at Intuit April 8 Preview - Distinctive Selfie Art Before There Were "Selfies"

Lee Godie, Untitled (self-portrait), c. 1970–80; gelatin silver print and ink; 5 x 3 3/4 in. Collection of Carl Hammer, IL.

 

Intuit will exhibit photographic self-portraits from one of Chicago's most collected artists, Lee Godie. The exhibit, titled Lee Godie: Self Portraits, will be traveling from the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and on view at Intuit from April 8 to July 5.

 

Intuit is located on Milwaukee Avenue. Intuit is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. and Monday school holidays

 

A free opening reception will be held April 8 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

 

Lee Godie, Untitled, n.d.; gelatin silver print; 5 x 3 3/4 in. Collection of John and Teenuh Foster, Saint Louis, MO.


 
A prolific self-taught artist and a fixture on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lee Godie (1908-1994) became well known in the Chicago arts scene in the 1960s. Self-portraits are prevalent throughout Godie's portfolio of work but most significant are those taken in automatic photo booths in Chicago bus stations. Godie used the booths as an experimental space where, away from the busy streets, she could explore multiple personae with the aid of costumes, props and physical expression. The resulting black-and-white photographs were embellished by hand and sold individually or attached to larger works as the artist's signature. Today, the 5-inch by 4-inch gelatin silver prints are among Godie's most sought-after pieces.
 
Curated by Karen Patterson, Lee Godie: Self Portraits is the first exhibition explicitly showcasing a selection of Godie's photo booth self-portraits. A departure from Godie's more familiar paintings and drawings, more than 50 photographs provide viewers with an authentic glimpse into the artist's complex and imaginative personality.

 

Lee Godie, Untitled (12 photobooth self-portraits, detail), n.d.; gelatin silver print; 12 1/2 x 61 x 2 1/2 in. Collection of Robert Parker and Orren Davis Jordan, NM.


 
Jenna Hankins and Debra Kerr of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art answered our questions about this upcoming exhibit:

 

Q:  How does this upcoming exhibit compare to prior Intuit exhibits of Godie’s work?

 A:  Similar to Intuit’s 2008 Lee Godie 100 year birthday exhibition, Lee Godie: Self Portraits will showcase a large number of Godie’s work; however, in this case, the focus is on her photographs made in bus station photobooths, some of which have been exhibited at Intuit previously and some new to our audience.

 

Lee Godie, untitled, n.d.; gelatin silver print and ink; 15 ½ x 14 ¼ in. Collection of Scott H. Lang, IL.

 

Q:  Will any of the established/formally trained Chicago artists or other Chicago arts enthusiasts who know/collected/interacted with Godie be part of the opening or in any way featured in this exhibit?

A:  Upcoming events include the free opening night reception on April 8. The next day will feature a workshop in which participants can make their own Godie-style self-portrait using a photobooth image (the photobooth will be on site for the opening weekend), which they will be able to embellish with paint and pen. Also planned is an open mic event, to allow the many Chicagoans who met and interacted Ms. Godie to tell their stories about her. The date for this programming event is still TBD.

 

Lee Godie, Untitled (in white fur stole with heart-shaped cameo), n.d.; gelatin silver print; 4 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. Collection of Jim Zanzi, WI.

 Q:  How did this exhibit come about?  I.e. the original compilation of the show and  also arranging for it to travel to Intuit/Chicago?

 A:  This show was conceived and produced by the staff of the John Michael Kohler Art Center, including Karen Patterson, curator.  With 2016 being Intuit’s 25th anniversary year, we were seeking to showcase exhibits that looked back at some artists we have championed in the past as well as newer artists that might not be as known in the outsider art world.  When we at Intuit heard about the Godie exhibition, we reached out to the Kohler team. Both we and they are excited for it to travel to Intuit.

 

Q:  How does this Godie exhibit further the Intuit Mission?

 A:  Intuit’s mission is to celebrate the power of outsider art, and we at Intuit believe that every person has creative power within themselves. Lee Godie exemplifies our mission and personifies that everyone—no matter their background or their resources—can tap into their own creativity. In these self-portraits, Intuit’s guests will see how Ms. Godie took on various personae, wearing different expressions and costumes when taking the photos, then embellishing the resulting photos with pen and paint. With very few resources, just her imagination and minimal art supplies, she created a series of works that today are among her most intriguing and popular. Wait until you see all these photo-booth self-portraits in one room! They are arresting, both as physical creations and as the personalities she portrays in the photos.

 

Q:  What is “new” about this exhibit or which aspects of Godie’s work/person etc does it bring out in a new way?

 A:  The main focus of this exhibition is Lee Godie’s use of herself as subject, with a primary focus on her use of photography.  When looking at the current state of photography and popularity of selfies, this exhibition feels like a precursor of what was to come, as if Godie’s artwork not only relected her own time but the changing landscape of art and communication that followed. When compared to contemporary artists like Cindy Sherman, Lee Godie’s art needs to be valued beyond the narrow focus of that of an outsider.

 

For more information visit Intuit's website or call (312) 243-9088

 

 

 

 

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