Terrain Biennial 2019

Terrain Biennial 2019, October 1st - November 17th
Opening weekend: October 4th - 7th, 2019

Terrain Stories

Copy of Terrain Biennial cupcakes

Call for Submissions

Terrain Exhibitions is working with a team of students from SAIC's MA in Art Administration and Public Policy program to develop a publication that tells the story of our organization. Together with the team, we are looking for submissions to the following prompt:

What is Terrain to you?

How do you see it? How do you describe it to others? We encourage you to think creatively in your response. Send us a digital file of a drawing, a photo, a haiku, or whatever else makes sense to you! Send your file and credit line to stories@terrainexhibitions.org by November 22nd. All submissions are useful for the project and will be considered for publication.

The Terrain Biennial is unlike any other art festival. It takes place on lawns, in front yards, on porches, beneath awnings, and in windows. Residents partner with artists to bring striking, contemporary artwork into their communities. The Terrain Biennial challenges the way art is often confined to institutional spaces and class-specific audiences. Building on Chicago’s rich tradition of apartment galleries and artist-run spaces, the Biennial brings contemporary art into the intimate terrain of the front yard, fostering dialogue between neighbors and providing access to new art for a wide range of people.

The theme of this years Terrain Biennial is to take stock of the landscape that people are living in today. What is the terrain that we occupy? What is the topology of our moment? Artists and hosts have been asked to reflect upon the ways in which our environment changes us and how we are changing it. 

Projects for the Terrain Biennial 2019 will take place all over the world! Projects range from Terrain Founder Sabina Ott’s video piece at Wedge Projects in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood; to Alberto Aguilar’s stylized broken window posters in Havana, Cuba; to performances by Teresa Albor, Shubho Saha, and Back ART that examine the complexity of colonial history in Dhaka, Bangladesh; to Betsy Odom’s subversion of sports fan lawn signs in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood; and Cathy Hsiao’s Migration score for Blue House, 回家  which recontextualizes a symbol of Imperial power into an exercise of care in Cicero, IL. 

The Terrain Biennial continues to grow this year as we have added a number of satellite clusters in Newburgh, NY; Portland ME; Santa Fe, NM and Lubbock, TX. We are also super excited about returning locations in Evanston, IL; Springfield, IL and Iowa City, IA.

Terrain Biennial 2019 locations
Aurora, IL | Asheville, NC | Batavia, IL | Berwyn, IL | Chicago, IL | Cicero, IL | DeKalb, IL | Dhaka, Bangladesh | Evanston, IL | Forest Park, IL | Glen Ellyn, IL | Havana, Cuba | Homewood, IL | Iowa City, IA | La Grange, IL | Los Angeles, CA | London, United Kingdom | Lubbock, TX | Morris, IL | Newburgh, NY | New York, TX | Oakland, CA | Oak Park, IL | Pasadena, CA | Peoria, IL | Portland, ME | Riverside, IL | River Forest, IL | Santa Fe, NM | Springfield, IL

Terrain Exhibitions was founded in 2011 by the late artist, curator, and educator Sabina Ott at her home in Oak Park. The original format of the exhibition space existed as monthly installations in her front yard, from which grew the Terrain Biennial. In the summer of 2018 Sabina Ott passed away leaving behind a legacy of radical energy, caring magic, and deep community. Terrain Exhibitions is a 501c3 Not for Profit organization established in the State of Illinois. Terrain Exhibitions produces the Terrain Biennial, a public art event staged at locations worldwide. Terrain Exhibitions hosts the Terrain Residency in Springfield, Illinois working with our partners the Springfield Art Association and the Enos Park Residency Program.

Land Acknowledgment
Chicago is the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: The Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi Nations. Many other Tribes like the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac and Fox also called this area home. Located at the intersection of several great waterways, the land naturally became a site of travel and healing for many Tribes. American Indians continue to call this area home and now Chicago is home to the sixth largest Urban American Indian community that still practices their heritage, traditions and care for the land and waterways. Today, Chicago continues to be a place that calls many people from diverse backgrounds to live and gather here. Despite the many changes the city has experienced, both our American Indian and the Terrain Exhibitions community see the importance of the land and this place that has always been a city home to many diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Lisa Boumstein-Smalley and Geoffry Smalley, Terrain Biennial 2015

Lisa Boumstein-Smalley and Geoffry Smalley, Terrain Biennial 2015

Call for Volunteers

Calling artists, designers, photographers, writers, curators, fundraisers, event production professionals, cooks, poets, filmmakers and more! We are actively recruiting volunteers to help with all aspects of Terrain Biennial 2019. Write to us at info at terrainexhibitions dot org

Yvette Brackman, Terrain DK

Yvette Brackman, Terrain DK

Past Terrain Biennial projects

Images from some past projects from the 2013, 2015 and 2017 biennials are available here on our archive page, a full archive of all projects is being built out. If you would like to volunteer to help with this important project please click here to help: Participate