Descending To Heaven: Darryll Schiff Is One Of Chicago's Most Up And Coming Artists

Descending To Heaven: Darryll Schiff Is One Of Chicago's Most Up And Coming Artists

A Chicago photographer's portrayal of enlightenment.
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Darryll Schiff is an internationally recognized artist with work in many of the leading museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Columbia College’s very own Museum of Contemporary Photography.

“Descending to Heaven” is the cornerstone of Schiff’s acclaimed “To Heaven” series; the artist's contemplative reaction and interpretation of Indian artist Jitish Kallat’s 2011 site-specific LED text installation at the Art Institute of Chicago. Darryll Schiff's fusion of elongated motion and illumination harmoniously work together in this series to create intoxicating compositions with a pointed message. Noted for his distinct vision and ability to capture movement and light, Schiff’s images brilliantly serve as an expression of mankind, moving out of the darkness to further enlightenment. But Schiff allows for the viewer to interpret themselves, whether it is true enlightenment or a false belief. Schiff hopes to convey through this piece a bright side to humanity, as it calls upon viewers to reflect on the prophets we follow and the paths we choose freely.

This series explores the topic of displaced meaning – cultural meaning that has been deliberately removed from the daily life of a community and relocated in a distant cultural domain (typically the in the idealized past or the utopian future). Examining the gap between the “real” and the “ideal”, Darryll showcases the human struggle of naive optimism vs. open cynicism. Schiff's “Heaven” is especially relevant today with current ideals placed in a fictional moment of a so-called American “golden age” - which social life is imagined to have conformed perfectly to cultural ideals (Make America Great Again). The fiction of “the golden age” is a long-standing tradition within Western culture, which often isolates minorities whose ideals do not coincide and whose needs are frequently ignored. The future is a versatile location for displaced meaning – a place for the perfect democracy in which all people are fully equal and free, a future that advances a common good for all. Some of these may be realistic possibilities, however, the trouble with displaced meaning is the way change is regarded as a future event and not a present activity.



President Obama's Lincoln quote in the final State of the Union address is as poignant now as it was in 1862 – placing value on a hopeful future:

"America has been through big changes before — wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the 'dogmas of the quiet past.' Instead, we thought anew and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America's promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we did — because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril — we emerged stronger and better than before."

Though there are connections to current events, the piece itself is based on a speech delivered during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The speech, delivered by monk Swami Vivekananda, urged religious tolerance across the world. The speech addressed how we can accomplish peace and abolish tyranny in the world and things to that effect - promising heaven on earth - as Schiff interpreted the speech. "My picture, it’s all the bright lights I take to be the words from the speech, and they get brighter and brighter as you keep reaching for that pie in the sky." But in the photo, Schiff's subjects never reach that point. "To a certain degree, [the picture says] don’t be lured in by all these words and promises."

Schiff’s color palette is never short of amazing as it lures the viewer in to contemplate not only how his work is made, but the deeper meaning behind it. Known for his brilliant use of color extension in photography, Schiff's photographic works are a beautiful, unexpected interaction of color that furthers his ideas regarding community ideals and how reachable our goals really are within a society. Though “To Heaven” is representational in a sense, the work abstracts with a focus on light and color – representing how easily people get swept up in alluring promises - whether its a return to an idealized past or promises of a better tomorrow.



Some areas are denser with light than others, creating the dispersion of depth and a sense of motion one might expect given the title and it’s reference to a cosmic force or place of nirvana. Schiff takes spatial relationships into great consideration when composing each image with tight control over what recedes visually and what comes forward in his color palette. Schiff intentionally makes one color more active than others as a contrast to draw emphasis on important areas of the image that hold significance to the message of the piece.



The use of color greatly impacts the message of the composition - emotions are generated largely based upon the balance of equivalence or disproportionality within each piece. This series draws attention to cool color schemes with washes of bright color and light. This technique is applied throughout Schiff's “To Heaven” series which makes it compelling to look at the work as a whole with side by side comparisons from piece to piece in order to see inversion techniques in the “decent” to heaven.



Schiff’s piece titled "Descending to Heaven" was made into a massive 24x56 foot mural, installed at 710 South Wabash located in Chicago's South Loop. Schiff is the only photographic artist featured in the corridor and his work is the first and only mural installed with lights - fitting to the message of his work.



The illumination and location of Schiff’'s mural have made it one of the most prominent works of the public art corridor, visible by foot, car and even train for those on Wabash and 8th or riding the rails between the Roosevelt and Harold Washington stops. Schiff’s impeccable and distinct photographic style showcases the
excitement of Chicago and it’s electrifying urban sprawl.




Darryll Schiff has become one of Chicago's most prominent artists and he is only gaining momentum, in 2016 Schiff's work was selected to be exhibited in international art fairs including Art Busan in South Korea and the Bazaar Art Fair in Jakarta, Indonesia as well as a local a solo exhibition in Chicago’s River North art district. Schiff is gearing up for upcoming art fairs in LA.

To follow Schiff more closely:

- Visit His Website

- "Like" on Facebook

- "Follow" on Instagram

Cover Image Credit: Darryll Schiff

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7 Reasons Why Literature Is So Important

"Literature Is One Of The Most Interesting And Significant Expressions Of Humanity." -P. T. Barnum
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Today, there are too many people who believe that literature is simply not important or underestimate its abilities to stand the test of time and give us great knowledge. There is a stigma in society that implies one who is more inclined toward science and math will somehow be more successful in life, and that one who is more passionate toward literature and other art forms will be destined to a life of low-paying jobs and unsatisfying careers. Somewhere along the line, the world has come to think that literature is insignificant. To me, however, literature serves as a gateway to learning of the past and expanding my knowledge and understanding of the world. Here are just a few reasons why literature is important.

1. Expanding horizons

First and foremost, literature opens our eyes and makes us see more than just what the front door shows. It helps us realize the wide world outside, surrounding us. With this, we begin to learn, ask questions, and build our intuitions and instincts. We expand our minds.

2. Building critical thinking skills

Many of us learn what critical thinking is in our language arts classes. When we read, we learn to look between the lines. We are taught to find symbols, make connections, find themes, learn about characters. Reading expands these skills, and we begin to look at a sentence with a larger sense of detail and depth and realize the importance of hidden meanings so that we may come to a conclusion.

3. A leap into the past

History and literature are entwined with each other. History is not just about power struggles, wars, names, and dates. It is about people who are products of their time, with their own lives. Today the world is nothing like it was in the 15th century; people have changed largely. Without literature, we would not know about our past, our families, the people who came before and walked on the same ground as us.

4. Appreciation for other cultures and beliefs

Reading about history, anthropology, or religious studies provides a method of learning about cultures and beliefs other than our own. It allows you to understand and experience these other systems of living and other worlds. We get a view of the inside looking out, a personal view and insight into the minds and reasoning of someone else. We can learn, understand, and appreciate it.

5. Better writing skills

When you open a book, when your eyes read the words and you take in its contents, do you ask yourself: How did this person imagine and write this? Well, many of those authors, poets, or playwrights used literature to expand their writing.

6. Addressing humanity

All literature, whether it be poems, essays, novels, or short stories, helps us address human nature and conditions which affect all people. These may be the need for growth, doubts and fears of success and failure, the need for friends and family, the goodness of compassion and empathy, trust, or the realization of imperfection. We learn that imperfection is not always bad and that normal can be boring. We learn that life must be lived to the fullest. We need literature in order to connect with our own humanity.

Literature is important and necessary. It provides growth, strengthens our minds and gives us the ability to think outside the box.

Cover Image Credit: google.com/images

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5 Quick Tips To Improve Your Focus And Time Management Skills

Here are five easy tips that helped my sense of productivity along the way.

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Lately, I've been pretty disappointed in my time management skills. I've been struggling to not only maintain all of my obligations but also my sense of joy while completing each task. And although I'd love to rain check on my responsibilities, I know that extended mental vacations are not a beneficial solution for long-term purposes. With this in mind, I've recently observed the ways that I manage my time as well as the methods I use to better improve my work ethic.
As a result of my personal inventory, I decided to make a brief list of tricks that I use to better improve my time management skills and focus.

1. Find articles that encourage organization

I've been reading articles about managing obligations and discovering cool methods to better organize my life. A specific blog post that I've found helpful is "Get Your Life Together Tools" by Mariah Dyson. This brief article is extremely easy to read and filled with useful apps to help readers stay focus on their tasks at hand. The link to this gem is below:

https://www.andsoitcurls.com/blog/majorkeys-tools

2. Listen to a podcast that you enjoy


If you're anything like me, you probably work best with background noise. Now, while I love my Netflix account, I've recently discovered that binge-watching my favorite shows is only a distraction when I'm trying to meet a deadline. So, instead of compromising my focus I've recently decided to save my favorite podcasts episodes for when I'm bogged down with work.

3. Approach your 'to-do' list with positive perspective

THIS IS A MAJOR ONE FOR ME! I have a terrible habit of complaining about my workload. And while it's easy to murmur about my obligations the effects of my comments are detrimental. I've been purposely replacing the phrase "I have to" with "I get to," to remind myself that every obligation is a blessing. I'm blessed to have a job and opportunities to fulfill.

4. Color-code your planner to better prioritize your day

I learned this trick while working on my bachelor's degree and honey, please believe me when I say that this tip alone saved my undergraduate experience. I'm a huge advocate for visual representation, and having my planner organized by color is a quick way to check in and manage my priorities throughout a hectic day.

5. Manage your progress

Lately, I've been taking great joy in checking off tasks from my "to-do list." Again, being a fan of visualization, it's rewarding to know that I've completed yet another task. This technique also serves as a healthy dose of encouragement to keep on trekking along, because the reality is if you could buckle down to achieve your goals once before, you can certainly do it again.

If anything, I hope that this list leaves you with healthy options to consider, when trying to tackle a stressful day.

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