Kimball Art Center exhibits explore roots and perceptions |

Kimball Art Center exhibits explore roots and perceptions

‘Long Kwento’ and ‘Parallax Distance’ open Friday

Maia Cruz Palileo's "Veils, Veils Veils" is a gouache and ink work on paper. The work is part of Palileo's exhibit, "Long Kwento" that opens Friday at the Kimball Art Center.
Courtesy of Maia Cruz Palileo and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

The Kimball Art Center’s first exhibits of 2022 that open Friday explore senses of identities and place, and relationships.

Maia Cruz Palileo’s “Long Kwento,” composed of sculptures and paintings, is the result of their quest for information that started with their family’s roots in the Philippines and expanded to the relationship between the country and the United States.

Jibade-Khalil Huffman: “Parallax Distance,” on the other hand, explores a story of reinvention, using an immersive multi-channel video installation.

Kimball Art Center curator Nancy Stoaks wanted to showcase these artists together because of how their art challenges narratives and narrative structures.

“Both of them create these deeply layered, visually rich pieces in different media,” Stoaks said. “The way that they take inspiration from various sources and recontextualize them to tell new stories is very powerful, and they bring this collage process to how they layer their works.”

Maia Cruz Palileo named this work "Bulaklak," which means flower in Tagalog, the Philippine language. Palileo's exhibit "The Long Kwento" examines her roots as the granddaughter of Filipino immigrants.
Courtesy of Maia Cruz Palileo and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Maia Cruz Palileo’s roots

Palileo named their exhibit “Long Kwento,” and “kwento” means “story” in the Filipino language of Tagalog.

The works, which feature paintings and sculptures, were first inspired by their family’s oral histories that detail their move to the United States as well as the concepts of time, they said.

“It’s called ‘long story,’ because it’s not easy to say this is this and that is that,” Palileo said. “The exhibit is meandering, and the research I did familial and historical was kind of the pathway to it. All of those things converting together is how the show came about.”

Family has been a major influence in Palileo’s works throughout their career, and one of their first projects was converting their studio into a replica of their grandparents living room.

“When I was growing up, I lived in Chicago, and they lived in Indiana,” they said. “We would spend our holidays with them in Indiana, and that was kind of my first understanding of who we were — our culture, language and family stories.”

After Palileo completed that work, their colleagues told them the room looked like their own grandparents’ living rooms.

“That got me on the curiosity track to find out more,” Palileo said. “It made me ask more questions around my family’s own sense of identification in coming to the United States. How did they represent themselves? Did they try to assimilate and erase themselves?”

Palileo then expanded those questions.

“I began asking myself what the history of the relationship between the Philippines and the United States was and is,” they said. “I’ve heard all of these stories about World War II and Japan’s occupation from my grandparents, but I didn’t know a lot of what happened before that.”

Those questions set the context for “Long Kwento,” and the research took Palileo to Chicago’s Newberry Library, which has one of the largest collections regarding the Philippines in the world.

The collection includes manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries amassed by business tycoon Edward E. Ayer, paintings by Domian Domingo, known as the “Father of Philippine paintings,” and photographs taken by Dean C. Worcester, an influential and controversial figure in the early years of American presence in the Philippines, Palileo said.

“I started to learn more about the United States’ role in the colonization of the Philippines, and it put things into context,” they said. “All of the U.S. governmental materials were a lot (to take in). It took me a couple of years to process all the information, and that’s coming out in my work.”

While tossing around the questions regarding representation and execution, Palileo began drawing and creating cutouts.

“The cutouts became rubbings, and that was the beginning of the imagery of the research I had done,” they said. “That opened up possibilities of how I could use the imagery, and give them multiple ways of being.”

Jibade-Khalil Huffman's "You Are Here," a multi-channel video, is the basis of his evolving exhibit, "Parallax Distance," that will open Friday at the Kimball Art Center.
Courtesy of the artist and Anat Egbi, Los Angeles

Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s aspects

Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s “Parallax Distance” is a video installation that continues to build on itself each year.

A parallax is a perceived shift that happens when an object is viewed from different aspects and positions.

“Video, in terms of how I think about languages, is the best way for me to convey how my brain works,” he said. “Narratives kind of unfold in this nonlinear way.”

Huffman began working on the current iteration more than a year ago, and the work is focused on an installation he calls “You Are Here,” a work that has evolved over time and across multiple institutions, according to Stoaks.

“Beginning as a video presented at the Museum of Modern Art’s Modern Monday series, it became a multi-channel video installation at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and now, at Kimball Art Center,” she said.

Huffman presented “You Are Here” with an older work, a first-person shooter that was related to video games, at the Museum of Modern Art, he said.

“I then expanded it over the spring for a small show I did in South Carolina,” he said. “So what you will have in Park City is the largest and longest iteration of this piece, which is now a two-channel video.”

The video is concerned with what happens between two women, and the dualities that are explored when these women flip identities, said Huffman, who is also a writer.

“I’m often thinking about how to expand something that is flat into something that is many,” he said. “I constructed a long poem in this multi-channel space, and there are elements that allude to virtual space that will come in (the exhibit’s) final iteration a year from now.”

While the current exhibit isn’t as hands-on as Huffman wanted it to be, he is still excited about the possibilities of expansion.

“Each one I do is different, depending on the space,” he said. “I have to choose what to include, because you only have so much time to make so many decisions about what goes into these spaces. I look at the conceptual idea and what the best sort of space is for that thing.”

Maia Cruz Palileo’s “Long Kwento”

When: Jan. 14-May 1

Where: Kimball Art Center, 1251 Kearns Blvd.

Phone: 435-649-8882


Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s “Parallax Distance”

When: Jan. 14-March 27

Where: Kimball Art Center, 1251 Kearns Blvd.

Phone: 435-649-8882


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