Not all memory-laden art exhibitions feel as haunted as Katie Chung and Unyimeabasi Udoh’s two-person show at the Chicago Artists Coalition. Udoh’s works are marked by the careful absence of anything an anthropologist or collector could successfully objectify: a 3 x 3-foot square of black sand on the floor of the gallery is only partly contained; a half-dozen landscape photographs with captions suggestive of the artist’s mother’s homeland of Nigeria have had their imagery shiftily obscured; a series of poetic fragments, each beginning with the phrase “portrait of my brother,” refuses to pin him down. Chung uses the materials of the dry-cleaning trade—straight pins, ledger paper, customer tags—to craft tender tributes to these ubiquitous Korean-American businesses, like the one her immigrant mother owned throughout her childhood. Chung’s masterwork, a traditional jeogori garment laboriously quilted from hundreds of dry-cleaning tags, floats above it all, a red, white and blue effigy full of grace, strength and grief, its red threads dangling bloodily.
—Lori Waxman 2021-01-08 1:08 PM