There is always a search for transmissions in my work. The studio work comments on my history in Chicago and my relationship with being educated here. I use a narrative through the language of storytelling that uses the memorial, the publication, ritual and biography. Whether I am writing or drawing, constructing small signs or large sculptures around Chicago or working alongside youth, stories, local history and layered interpretations of experience thread every project. A conscious commitment to meaningful civic engagement and using the tools to develop a voice remains a primary objective. My youth was preoccupied with locating a place for myself, traversing Chicago and looking for peace, answers and equanimity that today has provided a deeper analysis and sharper perspective on the kind of city I wish to live in. Using writing, sculpture, small books, organizing and teaching I develop with groups, better examples of meaningful ways of working with and alongside others, to build and share stories and imagine what it means to answer questions that still stir from the earliest of experiences.
Jim Duignan is a Chicago artist and professor of visual art in the College of Education at DePaul University. He started the Stockyard Institute in 1995 as an artist project and a small community institute in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of south Chicago. From the start, the Stockyard Institute was a community center working to collectively design and organize visual and pedagogical projects alongside youth, artists, teachers, community members, and the public, which speculate on art, education, aesthetics, and the city. The Stockyard Institute was influenced by an awareness of neighborhood histories and an under recognized group of community artists, architects, radical teachers, and local activists where a deep consideration of the social and civic forms of engagement were as critical to their practice as to their lives. The works of Jim Duignan and Stockyard Institute have been exhibited in the U.S. and Europe including Allgirls Gallery in Berlin, Germany, rum46, Aarhus, Denmark, Galeria de la Escuela de Artes Plasticas, Puerto Rico, P74, Llubljiana, Slovenia, Mess Hall, Chicago, and published in the New Art Examiner, Chicago Social Practice History Series, Artforum, Chicago Reader, Whitewalls, Proximity Magazine, Palm Press, AREA Chicago, Green Lantern Press, Set Up Tolerance, University of Chicago Press and The New York Times.