Polonium Projects

Recent Exhibitions:

Glory Hole

October 16 2022, 12pm-4pm

2233 S Throop St, Chicago, IL

Studio 815

A collaborative installation featuring work by:

Rabia Tayyabi

Anna Showers-Cruser

Boris Ostrerov

David Downs

Curatorial Statement:

We live in a world of barriers and walls, of facsimiles and false fronts -invented lives we share with the public sphere which only mask the truth of our inner selves. This has always been the way. Hiding away in the dark under a more socially acceptable, perhaps desirable persona of our own invention. How does this relate to the naughty “glory hole,” which conjures thoughts of homoerotic sexual behavior in a seedy restroom?

Some will cringe, some will snicker, some will stay away at the very mention of it. Depending on the restrooms you’ve frequented, at which night clubs you prowl, perhaps a suspicious truck stop… you may have never seen a glory hole. If you have, chances are you backed away… maybe laughed uncomfortably. Even if you wouldn’t dare use it, would you dare to look inside? Curiosity can be a dangerous temptress.

Our “Glory Hole” exhibition is about creating a barrier to the art while simultaneously providing access. Our ambitions as artists usually involves bringing our work out of the shadows into public view. Some works in this exhibition touch upon sexual preference/orientation, queerness, but also holding on to a desire for privacy. We’ve chosen to hide our works behind a wall making them exclusive to the adventurers who take a chance and look inside. There’s a bit of risk involved as you never know what you’ll discover, but that moment of discovery will be yours alone.

To inquire about a work or to learn more about the individual artists, email: davidpauldowns@gmail.com

Rabia Tayyabi (she/her) is a New Media Artist and Graphic Designer based in Chicago, IL. She received a B.A. in Psychology and Studio Art with concentrations in Art and Technology and Interaction Design from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) in Chicago. Rabia was awarded the NEIU Art and Technology Fellowship in 2019. In 2018, she was awarded third place in the Long Red Line Juried Art Exhibition at Renner Library Gallery in Elgin, Il. Rabia is currently working towards her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She engages in a code-based process that utilizes abstraction, color, and patterning to create prints, installations, and sculptures.

Anna Showers-Cruser (they/them pronouns, b.1988 on rightfully Powhatan land) works across object-making traditions in order to propose hybrid and humble alternatives to hegemonic binaries: sick/well, body/object, and feminine/masculine. Recent works imagine a contemporary abstract lexicon while reflecting their roots in southern DIY craft. Queerness, humor, herbalism, hospitality, and materialities of “invisible” disability are intrinsic to their work. ASC is a 3Arts grant recipient and was a 2017-18 HATCH artist-in-residence at the Chicago Artists Coalition. They were featured in the South Bend Museum of Art’s Biennial 31 in 2021. Recent solo exhibitions include “Soft Hardwares” at Monaco Gallery in St. Louis, and the commissioned installation “Aerial Parts” for Buddy Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2021. With roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains, they hold an MFA from the University of Chicago, and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art.

Boris Ostrerov earned a BFA in Painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Upon graduation he was awarded the SAIC fellowship. Energy, physicality, materiality, excess, and the confines and edges of the rectangle have been recurring themes in his work for several years. Ostrerov’s current work is seductive, juicy, visceral, and grotesque. He has exhibited widely and has earned several opportunities including showing at Slow Gallery, Paris London Hong Kong (PLHK), Lubov Gallery, the Portrait Society in Milwaukee and in Chicago’s NEXT fair. He has been featured in several publications including New American Paintings #119 and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Ostrerov’s painting was included in the New American Paintings show at the Elmhurst Art Museum in 2016. Ostrerov currently lives in Chicago.

David Downs is an interdisciplinary artist born in 1978 in St. Louis, Missouri. Currently he works in Chicago, Illinois. Downs uses various materials relating to painting and sculpture to create work that explores relational trauma, introspection, and self-exploration. Since 2005 his work has been exhibited in South Bend Museum of Art, Las Manos Gallery, and Baby Blue Gallery. David is a recipient of the Chicago Artist Assistance Program Grant (2010), and a resident artist at Spudnik Press (2016). His work has also been featured in Barbed, Average Art, and WERKS magazines.


Reception: Saturday, September 10, 2022 5pm-8pm

MANA Contemporary

2233 South Throop Street, Chicago, IL 60608

Studio 815 (8th floor)

A heaping mass of oil paint is churned until smooth then extruded like cake icing across a surface. In time it sweats oil like glands erupting from an amphibious creature. Sinking, sliding, wrinkling… alive.

A canvas on the ground is dashed and splashed by a brush with silky wet, thinned oil paint. While the oil pools up, a dust storm of bright pigments are cast through the air. The powder collides with the canvas in small audible pats. The surface becomes a desert landscape or a celestial expanse.

These works by Boris Ostrerov and David Downs are the result of mighty actions and delicate materials brought together by risky decisions. They are monumental in their weight and scale, yet fragile to the whims of time and gravity. Though their works are very different, their desire to push the medium of paint into challenging new directions is paralleled.

Polonium Projects brings these two painters together for a one-night exhibition in studio 815 on the new 8th floor of MANA Contemporary Chicago as part of MANA’s MdW Art Fair weekend and Saturday open house.