The Petty Biennial.2

November 7, 2019-February 14, 2020
Opening Reception: November 7, 2019 5-7 p.m.

With more than 100 biennials and triennials around the world, the large-scale international events have been a valued mode of artistic display in contemporary exhibition practices that have fueled the mass production and consumption of contemporary art. Used as a means to flex global status and distinction, the hegemonic format is a frequent topic of debate and critique. The Petty Biennial.2 is an exhibition project that seeks to challenge and reimagine dominant biennial culture by centering multiple cultural diasporas as a nexus of local exchange and dialogue for marginalized and queer communities.

Challenging the notion of diasporic communities as a dispersion of ethnicities across the globe, participating artists understand diaspora as a network and community of people across races, geographies, and ethnicities who are impacted and connected through the legacies of colonialism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. This connective tissue of social systems represents the efforts on the part of people of color to find each other and ourselves, a constant struggle to free our mind, body, and soul from inherited violence and oppression.

The Petty Biennial.2 engages with pettiness as an act of seizing agency within the telling of one’s own story. Pettiness is a claiming of space. Pettiness creates a space where one asserts themselves unapologetically, confronting a society that values and privileges whiteness above all, while finding solidarity from a community of peers. Pettiness is therefore a performative gesture that seeks liberation through exposing, and finding humor in oppressive social systems.

Glass Curtain Gallery will serve as the project’s anchor site, with two satellite locations at Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park and NYCH Gallery in Pilsen. The exhibition will feature the work of sixteen participating artists across the disciplines of painting, drawing, printmaking, performance, photography, sculpture, installation, and video. 

Participating Artists include: D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem, Alexandria Eregbu, Liz Gomez, Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero, Jesus Hilario, Jennifer Ligaya, Damon Locks, Zakkiyyah Najeebah, Carlos Barberena de la Rocha, Amina Ross, Luis A. Sahagun, Edra Soto, Yasmin Spiro, Raelis Vasquez, Rhonda Wheatley, and Santiago X 

Curated by Courtney Cintrón, Sabrina Greig, and Adia Sykes.

About The Petty Biennial

The Petty Biennial, co-founded by La Keisha Leek and Sadie Woods, is not a biennial itself, but a curatorial investigation towards queering the canon of traditional biennials. Every two years, the founders pass the curation of the project on to a new team. This exhibition project that complicates dominant narratives of contemporary cultural, social, political norms. Inspired by digital media, this project embodies “petty” or “clapback” culture as a disruption in respectability politics and a performative assertion in the contemporary art world. It is a response to classist views towards communities of color and peripheral art practices. At the intersection of race, gender and sexuality, featured artists showcase a range of regional and national perspectives unique to North and Central America and the Caribbean. In 2017, Leek and Woods worked with academics, cultural producers, and curators to select artists for the inaugural Petty Biennial. The project selected seventeen artists for its exhibition produced Arts + Public Life of the University of Chicago along with an additional nine artists for ancillary programming produced in partnership with The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, Black Cinema House, and OpenTV.

Satellite Exhibitions

Heaven Gallery
1550 N Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60622
December 6, 2019-January 19, 2020      
Opening Reception: December 6, 7-11 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Friday & Saturday 1-6 p.m.
Sunday 1-5 p.m. or by appointment

NYCH Gallery
2025 S Laflin St, 1st Floor, Chicago, IL 60608
January 10-February 7, 2020
Opening Reception: January 10, 6-10 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. or by appointment

This project is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. 

About the Curators

Courtney Cintrón is a Chicago-based arts and cultural administrator, contemporary art curator, and vocalist. She has had the pleasure of managing an array of artistic projects from youth arts education initiatives and art exhibitions to poetry, theater, dance, and music programs. Cintrón’s curatorial practice engages with complex social and polemical issues, that embrace a transformative lens. She has curated exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Artists Coalition, and Roman Susan, and supported programs and exhibitions at Gallery 400 and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She currently works in the arts education sector at Ingenuity as Partner Engagement Specialist. Cintrón holds a MA from the Department of Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a Graduate Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of Curatorial Research and Practice at SAIC. Cintrón also holds a MM in Classical Voice/Opera Performance from Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts, and a BM in Classical Voice/Opera Performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music.

Sabrina Greig is a writer and curator originally from New York City. At the intersection of social activism and Art History, her curatorial practice uses exhibition spaces to showcase experiences unique to Diasporic communities on the margins. She has curated exhibitions at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Artist Coalition, and ACRE Projects in Chicago. In December 2017, she was a participant in the Ghetto Biennial in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She has published work in Arts.Black, Contemporary And, Bad at Sports, and Sixty Inches from the Center, and has been featured in Hyperallergic, The Chicago Tribune, The Observer, and Smithsonian Magazine. She currently works in philanthropy in arts education. Greig received her BA in Art History from Carleton College and her MA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently works in philanthropy in arts education.

Adia Sykes is a Chicago-based independent curator and arts administrator. Her current research examines the potential of curating as an advocacy tool for racial equity in the arts. Through her practice, she seeks to center philosophies of improvisation and intuition, engaging them as tools by which meaningful relationships between artists and viewers can be cultivated, while leaving space for the vernacular to mingle with constructs of history and theory. Her curatorial projects include Locating Memory, in The City of Chicago Mayor’s Office, Project Radio London at Centro Arte Opificio Siri in Terni, Italy, and Reclamation: of time, of agency, of narrative at ACRE Projects in Chicago. She has also realized projects with the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries, Woman Made Gallery, Material Exhibitions, Roman Susan, and Comfort Station Logan Square. Sykes earned an MA from the Department of Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago with a focus on material culture and museums.

Exhibition Contact: Mark Porter,

Gallery Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, Closed