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Artist Reception with Kiki McGrath

May 18, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Please join us for an artist reception of Kiki McGrath: 8HRS on May 18 from 6:30-8:00pm in Gallery 3.

8HRS is a video documenting a performance in the former laundry room of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, DC. The artist repeatedly ironed family linens that have passed through the hands of five generations of women: a meditation on the relationship of domestic and spiritual labor, and a feminist inquiry into ritual, gender, and power.

Starting at dawn, McGrath worked for eight hours, and in accordance with most state labor laws, took two 15-minute breaks and one half-hour lunch break. She was alone in silence throughout the day, with only the sounds of the steam iron and the church bells ringing on the hour. A patch of sunlight moved across the wall, marking the passage of time.

This all-male Catholic monastery is part of a larger Western European system that for centuries has relied on unpaid labor from female communities. By performing on these grounds McGrath aimed to provoke reflection on unspoken expectations and power: which repetitive behaviors lull us into maintaining the status quo; what gender roles support our domestic and economic structures; who benefits from institutions that undervalue female labor and agency?

Kiki McGrath works in laundry rooms, chapels, galleries, and gardens. She combines performance and assemblage to explore themes of labor, ritual, and social history. She received a fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, graduate awards from American University, and has participated in residencies in the US and Italy. McGrath holds an MA in Museum Studies from George Washington University and an MFA in Studio Arts from American University. Based in Chicago, she works as a visual arts editor for the EcoTheo Review.

Elevate at 21c presents temporary exhibitions of works by artists living and working in the communities surrounding each 21c Museum Hotel Chicago. Elevate provides hotel guests and visitors with unique access to the work of notable regional artists, while featuring their work in the context of 21c’s contemporary art space.


May 18, 2023
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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21c Museum Hotel Chicago
55 E Ontario
Chicago, IL 60611
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Juli Lowe