Paola Lopez (BFA & BAVCS) is a student at the School of the Art institute of Chicago. Her work chooses to question belief systems and the constructs of identity through performance, sculpture and mixed media installation. The themes of her work challenge social issues that are accepted and not questioned. 

150 Objects of SAIC is an installation that reveals the narrative of the school, through its students, staff, faculty and alumni. By asking students, alumni, staff and faculty to donate one personal item from their time in SAIC, Paola revives the collective memory of the institution through the individual history of each object. Each participant received an 8 square inch box with wrapping paper via post along with a return label for the shipping. The stories have been individually collected between the artist and participants.

Previously On View: The Co-Op Center Lounge, 14th Floor Lakeview, 116 S.Michigan Ave

In the paragraphs below one will find my initial iteration to a self evaluation. The self-evaluation lacks structure, nevertheless in it arises an experimental writing on art and about art which writing speaks closer to my creative ideas. In it I try to understand my voice and my creative process despite the limitations of the essay. This is: self – evaluation, the free write.

In my work, I question the normative values in contemporary society. I am interested on how our possessions acts as a barrier or layer between our inner selves (our history, desires, memories) and the world that surrounds us. One’s possessions act as a body-escape, objects that become animated through their stories as representing: A memory, a time, a location, an emotion, a person. Simultaneously acting as a landscape that encompasses our connection to an outside reality while also acting as a mechanism of displaying ourselves in a way that we want others to notice us. I am interested in unmasking the many hidden ideologies behind the constant changing cultural production and how each individual feeds, stretches and grows from their objects and possessions. Taking in mind how I, as a subject of culture, play a role in ‘doing culture’. As an artist, and a member of culture, I work to understand and unveil the absurdities of possessions.

Initially entering to the SAIC 150: Repeat Transmissions class I found myself more interested in understanding archiving rather than the history of the school. While trying to delve into the institutional archive, my initial reactions in comprehending the archive felt extremely uninteresting. I lacked an innate genuine search into delving into the archive. I lacked emotion.

I concluded that I had to make my own archive to understand the genuine and intuitiveness for creating and caring for an archive.

There is an initial response that comes from any project. There comes a great satisfaction to place magic into play.

I needed an opinion. Week through week the idea sometimes without connection to the class was there. I picture it in my sleep in the early hours of the morning, collage.

A collage of ideas and representations that could not live by them selves.

Throughout this process of creating and recreating iterations and proposals, the idea of the timeline allowed my angels to drop me these ideas.

It is genuine and intuitive as I did not question my initial response to it and trusted the process, stress free in the conceptual sense.

They drop me an image and I have to make sense of that idea.

Poetics and Emotional Encounters

These initial responses came from trying to understand what my thoughts were in regards to archiving and the history of the school and my position in it. One extreme take of my ideas went directly to the idea of the void. An architectural structure that would be created by placing two double sided mirrors and a small LED strip. An architectural space would be created.

Simultaneously I had visual imageries of collage.

The proposal and project draft was an understanding of my emotional encounters with it. The first transmission became a different idea than my image in my head but regardless a more thought out process. Establishing an idea.

When understanding the process of the first iteration I was then able to identify the key components for establishing a rhythm and a system in archiving the material. I thought I was done and the break even though I did not think I needed it the deadline of a proposal. Now that I understood what my emotional and poetic response is I then find a better way that the viewer can understand it.

I delved into different ways to displaying objects. The initial and first iteration respond came directly from being unable to understand the magnitude of the archive.

More of a poetic response towards what a time capsule meant. started as a column which would be attached to the wall and ended up becoming a case like structure that separated out of the main column of the Neiman center.

Text and object

Narration began when trying to understand what is the correct way to archive and display objects. The objects where not speaking by themselves.

The stories brought these objects to life. Interested in the relationship of image and text. Barth explains the importance of having a semantic relationship with image and text. In an unequal setting the image or the text would be subordinate to the text. Working with an average wall text text size I have learn to understand that the text can really become parasitic in the Barthian sense of the word due to the lack of in-depth analysis of the object.

When describing the objects. How can everyday mundane objects became more important through the school’s anniversary. Having a balanced and structure of emotional appeal to the viewer and a compelling story out of mundane objects is a great of Rhetoric, the art of discourse, interested in persuasion.

I came to the conclusion that this one year process, I encompassed and came to the conclusion that I searching in understanding display.

How are my:

  • ideas displayed,
  • emotional and poetics mapped and displayed
  • objects displayed
  • Timelines
  • history
  • text and objects

When establishing a creative practice I have learned through the process of creating a longer project that one should understand the importance of creating iterations.

Working throughout the possible different ways that a longer project will solve the questions it is possessing by itself. One should understand how to work with timelines and achieve it. Each project has its own system and language that needs to be created. The importance of writing throughout your process, writing proposals, budgeting, came closer to understanding my own thought and creative process.

Through this process I chose not to question how I am displayed in regards to my practice. Whether I become an artist or a scholar, or a curator I have decided to trust.



150 Objects of SAIC, 2016, Mixed Media + Publication.