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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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.
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Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

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My AP Environmental Science Class' Cookie Mining Experiment Shows Why Capitalism Is Destroying The Planet

Who cares about the environment with profits this high?

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With the AP exams in May approaching quickly, my AP Environmental Science class has wasted no time in jumping right into labs. To demonstrate the damage to the environment done by strip mining, we were instructed to remove the chocolate chips from cookies.

The experiment in itself was rather simple. We profited from fully or partially extracted chips ($8 for a full piece and $4 for a partial) and lost from buying tools, using time and area and incurring fines.

This might seem simplistic, but it showcased the nature of disastrous fossil fuel companies.

We were fined a $1 per minute we spent mining. It cost $4 per tool we bought (either tweezers or paper clips) and 50 cents for every square centimeter of cookie we mined.

Despite the seemingly overbearing charges compared to the sole way to profit, it was actually really easy to profit.

If we found even a partial chocolate chip per minute, that's $3 profit or utilization elsewhere. Tools were an investment that could be made up each with a partial chip, and clearly we were able to find much, much more than just one partial chip per tool.

Perhaps the most disproportionally easiest thing to get around were the fines. We were liable to be fined for habitat destruction, dangerous mining conditions with faulty tools, clutter, mess and noise level. No one in the class got fined for noise level nor faulty tools, but we got hit with habitat destruction and clutter, both of which added up to a mere $6.

We managed to avoid higher fines by deceiving our teacher by pushing together the broken cookie landscapes and swiping away the majority of our mess before being examined for fining purposes. This was amidst all of our cookies being broken into at least three portions.

After finding many, many chips, despite the costs of mining, we profited over $100. We earned a Franklin for destroying our sugary environment.

We weren't even the worst group.

It was kind of funny the situations other groups simulated to their cookies. We were meant to represent strip mining, but one group decided to represent mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is where companies go to extract resources from the tops of mountains via explosions to literally blow the tops off. This group did this by literally pulverizing their cookies to bits and pieces with their fists.

They incurred the maximum fine of $45. They didn't profit $100, however.

They profited over $500 dollars.

In the context of our environmental science class, these situations were anywhere from funny to satisfying. In the context of the real world, however, the consequences are devastating our environment.

Without even mentioning the current trajectory we're on approaching a near irreversible global temperature increase even if we took drastic measures this moment, mining and fracking is literally destroying ecosystems.



We think of earthquakes as creating mass amounts of sudden movement and unholy deep trenches as they fracture our crust. With dangerous mining habits, we do this ourselves.

Bigger companies not even related to mining end up destroying the planet and even hundreds of thousands of lives. ExxonMobil, BP? Still thriving in business after serial oil spills over the course of their operation. Purdue Pharma, the company who has misled the medical community for decades about the effects of OxyContin and its potential for abuse, is still running and ruining multitudes more lives every single day.

Did these companies receive fines? Yes.

But their business model is too profitable to make the fines have just about any effect upon their operation.

In our cookie mining simulation, we found that completely obliterating the landscape was much more profitable than being careful and walking on eggshells around the laws. Large, too-big-to-fail companies have held the future of our planet in their greedy paws and have likewise pulverized our environment, soon enough to be unable to return from.

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