Skip to content



Susan Giles, Space Has Become This Material Thing– Artist Talk

About the program

Glass Curtain Gallery—Columbia College Chicago

1104 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Monday–Wednesday: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM
Friday–Saturday: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Space Has Become This Material Thing reveals the intersections of memory, communication, and physicality. Through sculptures and drawings of hand gestures, Giles captures the reflections of individuals who have recently transitioned to new homes. The invited participants, young adults and elderly citizens, like many others, underwent significant changes in their perception of home during the pandemic-induced isolation. The stories and gestures captured through this artwork serve as a point of social engagement through listening, sharing, and connecting personal to collective memory. The fleeting shapes and movements our hands make while speaking are skillfully rendered, evoking the embodied experience of the world and making each artwork a tangible repository, preserving the recollections and perceived realities of the speakers. In focusing on the recalled experiences of individuals and the corresponding hand gestures, Giles seeks to illuminate the point at which language takes on a sculptural form. Through this exploration, the exhibition offers a captivating exploration of how our embodied experiences shape our understanding and representation of the spaces we call home.

This project is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Susan Giles’s work has shown in Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center, The Hyde Park Art Center, THE MISSION, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Renaissance Society, as well as Mixed Greens in New York; Galería Valle Ortí in Valencia, Spain; and Five Years, London. Major commissions include a permanent sculpture for the University of Chicago in 2021 and a public art commission by Jason Rosenthal in memory of Amy Krouse Rosenthal for the Chicago Park District in 2019. In 2021 Giles was on Creative Capital’s Shortlist. She has received numerous grants, including an Individual Artist Project Grant from DCASE in 2022, 2019, 2017, and 2015, awards from the Illinois Arts Council in 2014 and 2009, a 2005 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and a 1998 Fulbright Grant to Indonesia. Giles is an Associate Professor in the Department of Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a 2023 Visiting Teaching Fellow in Built Environment, Arts, Design & Architecture at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The City is the Site