Artist Chris Friday to speak art, bias in education for inaugural Chautauqua School of Art Alumni Lecture

Chris Friday likes to let her work speak for itself, and with her emphasis on text-based art, it generally does this quite literally.


When Friday was asked to speak for Chautauqua School of Art’s inaugural Art Alumni Lecture this week, she had her reservations.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “I hate public speaking, I absolutely hate it.”

Even so, Friday wasn’t about to back away from the challenge.

“(Talking about myself) is something that I generally don’t like to do,” Friday said. “But I feel like that is exactly why I need to do it: to get used to talking about myself and my work and get people to understand who I am just a little bit.”

Friday is a Miami-based mixed media artist and a 2019 Chautauqua School of Art Alumni. She recently graduated with her MFA from Florida International University. Friday will be speaking at 6:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 18, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch.

“We established the CVA Alumni Lecture because we believe in giving the previous participants of our residency program a platform to share with us how they have grown since they were at Chautauqua,” said Sharon Louden, the Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of the Visual Arts. “Friday was an obvious choice, as her work is timely to learn about now more than ever. She is a great example to so many artists.”

In the past few years, Friday’s work has interrogated the baked-in racism and biases in American education and academia, using text and a black-and-white “chalkboard aesthetic.”

“I loved school as a kid 一 I was a good kid, (I) got straight As  一 and at one point in college I started to realize that a lot of the stuff I was learning was biased, and all subjective to my instructor’s opinions and perceptions and their beliefs,” she said. “Beginning to question those kinds of things led me to use (this) aesthetic, which plays on that idea of learning and being taught.”

During her time as a Student and Emerging Artist with the School of Art, Friday was able to expand her practice in brand new ways.

“I consider myself to be an interdisciplinary artist. I make work about whatever and out of whatever I want to, so being there with people of different disciplines, they got to rub off on me,” she said. “I created my first ceramic body of work because I went to Chautauqua. I started it there and then I came home and it ended up being my thesis work. It was so valuable. If I hadn’t come, I couldn’t have been able to do that body of work, and it was so amazing.”

Friday hopes the current Students and Emerging Artists will be excited to get to know her and her work.

“I hope that they just take away a little bit about who I am,” she said. “We’re kind of all part of this little (School of Art) community. Maybe (this) will make them want to get to know me. That’s all I can hope.”

Tags : Chautauqua School of ArtChris FridayHerb SiegelSharon LoudenSydelle Sonkin

The author Eleanor Bishop

Eleanor Bishop is a Cincinnati native and rising senior studying journalism at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. She is excited to (virtually) return to the Daily for her second year, where she is covering visual arts, opera and dance. When she’s not writing, Eleanor enjoys comedy, pop music and staring wistfully out windows, thinking about how she should probably be writing.