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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The End Of The Semester As Told By Todd Chrisley

Because we're all a little dramatic like Todd sometimes.
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The last 3-4 weeks of every college student’s semester are always crazy hectic. We have last minute assignments, group projects, and exams all squeezed into the last few weeks before break.

Sometimes we all need a little humor, and sometimes we are all a little dramatic, so why not experience the last few weeks of the semester as told by the king of drama himself, Todd Chrisley of Chrisley Knows Best.

1. Sitting in class listening to your professor explain upcoming assignments/exams.

2. When your group project members refuse to do anything until the night before it's due or just show up the day of to present.


3. When you and your roommate try to cook with whatever few ingredients you have left in stock.

Because we definitely want to avoid going to the grocery store at the end of the semester if we can.

4. When your parents get tired of you calling them about every little inconvenience in your life.

5. Sitting down to work on assignments.


6. Your thoughts when the professor is telling you what they want from you out of an assignment.


7. When you've had about 30 mental breakdowns in 2 days.

8. Trying to search out the class for the right group members.

9. The last few days of classes where everyone and everything is getting on your nerves.

10. When your friend suggests going out but you're just done with the world.

11. This. On the daily.

12. When all you want to do is snuggle up and watch Christmas movies.


13. Studying and realizing you know nothing.


14. When your finals are over and it's finally time to go home for break.


You're finally back to your old self.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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High School Senior Malcolm Asher's Globally Reaching Nonprofit Is An Example For Other Teens

Making a difference has no age restrictions.

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In today's world, we all have the causes we're passionate about. And one student took his passion and turned it into action. At the age of 15 years old, Malcolm Asher decided to found ArtPass. It's a nonprofit determined to help children have better experiences at medical facilities. Still enrolled at Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon, his success shows other youth how passion can lead to them making a worldwide impact.

What is ArtPass? According to Asher, "ArtPass takes a two-step approach in each community we serve. First, we remold children's mindset around hospitalization through our art-centric educational and advocacy curriculum. We make the hospital experience more transparent and less intimidating. This curriculum, consisting of cartoons specifically created for children no matter their English ability, is utilized by each chapter to meet the needs of individual communities. Secondly, ArtPass collects and distributes art supplies for the local healthcare facilities in these same communities to improve the experience in the facility so the child is more likely to seek medical attention the moment symptoms arise in the future." ArtPass also provides the opportunity for patients artwork to be shared with other patients, helping to eliminate the isolating feelings they can experience.

Asher explained that "while ArtPass initially started simply as a sharing-art program for my local hospital, I first-hand saw there was an even larger, unaddressed problem." That problem he went on to tell me was the vast number of children that die every year from preventable disease. According to him, that number is an outstanding 5.4 million. Due to lack of resources often the "emotional well-being' of patients isn't a concern that is addressed.

"Since wards can be 110 degrees with only five beds for 15 children, the quality of the hospital experience is severely poor for patients. This creates a stigma outside the hospital where children are so petrified of hospitalization they hide their symptoms from their parents until they are so critically ill, easily cured illnesses can become fatal, " explained Asher.

This realization led Asher to expand ArtPass. According to their website, they currently have 110 chapters registered, impacted more than 12,000 children, and have determined their educational curriculum to be 93 percent effective. They have made a global impact with their ArtPass Global Ambassadors which allows like-minded individuals to bring ArtPass to their local communities.

artpassinternational.org/global-ambassadors/

If you are interested in getting involved with ArtPass there are two ways Asher explained, "First, for every dollar donated, ArtPass can reach one more child. Because every community is so different, we provide mini-grants so chapter leaders can effectively utilize our programs and resources in ways that work for their homes. Additionally, if you're a student who would like to start a chapter of your own, you can apply on our website to become an ArtPass Global Ambassador."

"Based on our current growth rate, by the end of 2018, ArtPass expects to have registered over 175 chapters and have supported 20,000 children. Those numbers should triple by the end of 2019," said Asher. He doesn't take credit for the success. Instead, he cites support from art therapy-based nonprofits, local companies, hospital Child Life Specialists, and even some name brand companies like Taco Bell and T-Mobile. Asher also believes ArtPass has achieved success due to the lack of other organizations focusing on this area of work.

When asked what inspires Asher he stated, "I'm inspired by the students across the world who go above and beyond to help children interact with healthcare more positively. For example, Zainab is a teenage girl who lives in a Taliban-ruled community in Afghanistan. While she has a hospital in her community, children are so petrified of the conditions that they are too scared to ask for treatment. So, while risking her own safety, Zainab is pioneering her own ArtPass chapter. Habtsh is a college student in Ethiopia who has used all of his savings to launch his own ArtPass chapter as well, bringing in a large team of volunteers, and reaching over 15 different villages across Ethiopia, where he lives."

ArtPass is an example of what one person can accomplish and the impact youth can have on the causes they're passionate about. "I want people to learn that if you see a problem, no matter how big, it is possible to make real, sustainable change. For every one solution, there are three more problems out there. With support and allies on your side, no problem is too big," said Asher.

Asher offers this advice to other youth with a passion to make a difference: "Please, don't be scared to reach out to people (like me!). When I had my idea, I had no clue where to turn or if I would even be able to put my ideas into fruition. But after reaching out to other young social entrepreneurs who had been successful in their own ventures, I received priceless guidance, advice, and mentorship that propelled our growth. People want to help you — I promise!"

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