Community Talks

Community Talks is a free public program hosted at Mana Contemporary Chicago to introduce its community to a new guest each month.

Meet the guests:

Born in Mexico in 1981, Rodrigo Lara Zendejas received an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2013 and his BFA, Summa Cum Laude, from the Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico in 2003. Lara has had solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Museo de Arte Moderno in the state of Mexico; Museo de la Ciudad in Querétaro, Mexico; Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago; C.G. Boerner in New York City; Centro cultural Ignacio Ramírez El Nigromante in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Kruger Gallery in Marfa, Texas; Test Site Projects in Las Vegas; Governors State University, IL; among others. He has been in such residencies as MASS MoCA, Cerámica Suro, Vermont Studio Center, ACRE, Ragdale, Mana Miami, Rogers Art Loft, and Cross Currents: Cultural Exchange. Lara has two monographs of his work, Máscaras y Artefactos and Memorials. He won the first price in sculpture at the Premio Nacional de las Artes Visuales in Mexico in 2010. He has received several awards including: Make a Wave Award, 3Art, Chicago; Individual Artists Program Grants, DCASE, Chicago; Proyectos Especiales FONCA (Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes), Mexico City; Emerging Artist Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York City; Jóvenes Creadores, FONCA, Mexico City; Extraordinary Abilities Visa (O-1), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; James Nelson Raymond Fellowship, 2013 SAIC Fellowship Competition; PECDA Estudios en el extranjero, Instituto Queretano de la Cultura y las Artes; International Graduate Scholarship, SAIC; and the John W. Kurtich Travel Scholarship, SAIC, Berlin/Kassel, Germany, among others. Currently, Lara lives and works in Chicago.

Jordan Martins is a Chicago based visual artist, curator, educator and musician. He received his MFA in visual arts from the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) in Salvador, Brazil in 2007, and is a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Loyola University. He is the executive director of Comfort Station, a multi-disciplinary art space in Chicago. Martins’s visual work is based in collage processes, including painting, photography, video and installation, and he has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work has been featured in exhibitions at Goldfinch, The Mission, Evanston Art Center, LVL3, The Franklin, The Museu de Arte da Bahia, Zeitgeist, and Experimental Sound Studio. He was artist in residency at Latitude in 2022, a WARP resident at The Weaving Mill in 2017, and a resident in the Chicago Artists Coalition’s HATCH program in 2013. Martins is co-director of the Perto da Lá <> Close to There, a multidisciplinary project with international artists in Salvador, Brazil and Chicago funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund

Janine Mileaf, Ph.D., is Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Arts Club of Chicago, a cultural hub for the city since 1916. An art historian, she has worked to emphasize the educational and community missions of The Arts Club, expanding its public arts programming and connections to local artists, while bringing evocative exhibitions to its gallery. Mileaf is a champion of challenging art, commissioning new work from a broad spectrum of practitioners including composers, choreographers, and architects, in addition to visual artists. Mileaf has served as interlocutor, critic, or juror for such institutions as the Executive Service Corps, University of Chicago, Chicago Humanities Festival, Terra Foundation for American Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 3Arts, and the Chicago Artists Coalition. She is the author of Please Touch: Dada and Surrealist Objects After the Readymade, and co-editor of The Arts Club of Chicago at 100 and A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago, as well as numerous articles, interviews, and essays on interwar and contemporary art. At The Arts Club, she has curated monographic exhibitions with such artists as Hurvin Anderson, Kamrooz Aram, Kerstin Brätsch, Suzanne Jackson, Jennie C. Jones, Hannah Levy, Sharon Lockhart, Josiah McElheny, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Amy Sillman, and Simon Starling. Currently on view is Jessi Reaves: All possessive lusts dispelled.