Cheryl Pope

Chicago, IL 

December 15, 2017 - January 20, 2018

Artist Statement



weight can sift shift and fall on shoulders saturate disturb and yet rupture invisible.

The role of the artist is to make the invisible felt.
To help a people understand their experience. 
To document this search and understanding.
To challenge, question, and ask. 
To shed light in dark places.
To listen. 

I describe myself interchangeably as a poet, an artist, and a designer.  I work fluidly connecting disciplines materially, contextually, and collaboratively.

I often frame my work as poetic journalism, documenting what is not told in traditional forms of journalism, i.e. live news, written news, but rather documenting the felt experience, the affects, the lived, the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual.

I also think of my practice as a continuous form of provocative research, nothing is conclusive, but rather is searching to understand, to surface more, to ask, listen, and ask again more.

I believe listening to be the most political act. Listening with the body, with all the senses, keenly, and acutely for the individual and obtuse for a group, a community, a society. 

The act of listening is the foundation of my practice. It is listening to language, body language, relationships, histories, objects that contain meaning, that speak power, that tell lies, or hide truths, noticing, asking, and interpreting the poetics, the mapping, and remembering…  But this lens of listening isn't a garment to take on or offbut rather it is my skin, permanent, attentive, in time, asking, listening, feeling, holding, and performing. 

My work is rooted in the body, and I look to materials to speak of the body for the body, to hold the body.  I see materials as a body, each with physical characteristics and historical aesthetics that reveal a psychology, a power, and a vulnerability.

My research responds to my direct experience living in Chicago, which is at the center of issues of inequality, segregation, discrimination, police brutality, abuse of power, injustice, violence and political corruption.

For the past 13 years I have worked with non for profits and collaborated with young artists from neighborhoods across Chicago responding to the violence, injustice, and its impact specifically on youth.

It is the youth in Chicago that are keeping the torch of hope lit, are breaking down barriers of narrowed and limited ways of identifying the body, and forming collectives that support one another with platforms to speak and hear truths. It has and continues to be the biggest honor for me to collaborate with them, to receive their trust, and to share in their actions of hope, truth, and persistent call for justice. 

I am committed to challenging and confronting the politics of identity, using art and design as an instrument of power and potential to provoke and instigate change, equality, and the celebration of difference. 

Cheryl Pope is a visual artist focused in sculpture, installation, and performance.
Her work questions and responds to issues of identity as it relates to the individual and the community, specifically in regards to race, gender, class, history, power and place. Her practice emerges from the act and politics of listening.
Pope received her BFA and MD from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, where she is now a full time Professor in the Fashion Department. She is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago, and Galleria Bianconi in Milan. Pope studied under the artist Nick Cave for 12 years, was a teaching artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art for 7 years, and worked in multiple community based organizations throughout Chicago since 2003. After winning the Chicago Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament in 2014, Pope continues to train and teach boxing to youth in communities and adults at SOHO House Chicago.