Artist duo: GURL DON’T BE DUMB
at The Pitch Project
706 S. 5th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Oct. 17, 2014 – Jan. 17, 2015
LIT UP, an exhibition by Chicago-based duo GURL DON’T BE DUMB (Eileen Mueller and Jamie Steele) is a show filled to the brim with candid irreverence and satirical performative interactions. It is your styrofoam cooler emitting a soft pink glow, it is your moonlit skinny-dip LIT UP. The exhibition was first shown at Forever & Always Projects in Chicago, IL at a one night event. According to Forever & Always Projects, “GURL DON’T BE DUMB (GBDB) is not an overarching synthesis of feminism, anti-feminism, anti-gender, nor gender identity politics. GDBD is Jamie and Eileen making contact with playful material, creating relationships of mischievous viewership and interaction, and inviting everyone along for the ride – shotgun.” Made up of lampooned modern gestures, sincere performative drinking, and the notion of camp life as both material and content, this work is the clear picture of two GURLS making serious work of hard play.
Gurl Don’t Be Dumb duo, Mueller and Steele, were in attendance for the opening of the exhibition and for camping out in the gallery the night before. The artists then returned for the closing weekend of the show for an artist talk.
About the Artists
GURL DON’T BE DUMB was founded by Eileen Mueller and Jamie Steele in 2011 as a curatorial project. Trafficking in artists that reclaim the rejected with irreverence and total genius their aim was to build playful exhibitions in an effort to free the works from the academy and facilitate empowered viewership. They have mounted shows at MDW Fair, Iceberg Projects, Vessel & Page, and Heaven Gallery. After completing a residency at ACRE the two have turned their attention to making collaborative works and taking their curatorial research and applying it to works that further explore the materiality of GURLNESS.
Eileen Mueller (b. 1985, Milwaukee, WI) studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and later received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the recipient of the Fred Endsley Memorial Fellowship and the World Less Travelled Grant. Recent residencies include ACRE and a teaching assistanceship at Ox-Bow. Her work focuses on the material history of the photograph and its role in confounding unwritten or inaccessible histories. Mueller highlights the fictive nature of archival materials by mapping new connections to existing histories so that they become interwoven with her own life and journeys. The work forms a new lineage wherein kinship is not proximal or biological but rather rooted in community and practice. Her work has shown at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Iceberg Projects, Roots & Culture, and Johalla Projects. This summer her work was featured in exhibitions at the OSU Urban Arts Space and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Based in Chicago, Eileen is a co-founder of LATITUDE and teaches at ChiArts.
Jamie Steele (b. 1985, Atlanta, GA) currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She obtained her BA in Fine Art from the University of the South in 2003 and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012. She received the John Quincy Adams fellowship awarded by Jessica Stockholder. Via photo, video, and sculptural works Steele makes use of neon colors, drag aesthetics, and various feminine accoutrements that are often transformed to the grotesque. Specific actions, sounds, and colors, create a sense of feeling alien in ones own skin, relating to sexuality, sex, and femininity. Steele plays with the edges of taste, questions what is proper, and pushes against the symbology of elegance cauterized in her mind by a conservative southern upbringing. Recent exhibitions include: Static Cling, Penelope, Brooklyn, NY (2014), BLACK CAULIFLOWER, Roots & Culture, Chicago, IL, (2014), Gone to Seed, Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL (2013), Archetype Drift, Johalla, Chicago, IL (2013), and The Great Refusal, Sullivan Galleries, Chicago, IL (2012).