Zachary Cahill’s BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works exhibition, Snow, presents the third phase of the Chicago-based artist’s USSA 2012 project, which explores the roles that art and institutions play in society.
In Snow, Cahill invites visitors to enter the USSA 2012: Wellness Center. Divided into three sections—a welcome center, a library, and an art gallery—this installation brings together Cahill’s paintings, sculptures, and writing to explore the implications of art as a therapeutic exercise.
In creating a retreat within the museum, Snow considers the costs and benefits of withdrawing from society in response to an individual or collective trauma, such as the recent global economic recession. Drawing on a variety of sources, including Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain (1924), the Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining, and the tradition of Northern Romantic and German Expressionist painting, Cahill evokes a turn-of-the-twentieth-century European sanatorium to consider whether art can be a place of refuge. Cahill’s previous USSA 2012 projects have reimagined an orphanage and a gift shop.
The interdisciplinary artist has presented his work in New York, Germany, and Denmark, as well as at Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art and threewalls, among other galleries and institutions. In 2012, he participated in The Retreat: A Position of DOCUMENTA (13), a residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. He has been associated with Our Literal Speed, a collective of artists, critics, and scholars, since 2007. His writings have appeared in many exhibition catalogues as well as in Mousse Magazine, Journal of Visual Culture, RETHINKING MARXISM, and Shifter Magazine, and on Artforum.com.
This exhibition is organized by Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow Abigail Winograd.