Juan William Chávez: “Mound City”

Through a series of new works on paper, canvas, and installations incorporating found and crafted objects, St. Louis-based artist Juan William Chávez reflects on St. Louis’ moniker of “Mound City” and his experience of the area’s remaining man-made mounds (constructed by the region’s earliest indigenous societies) growing up and living in the city. Known for his research-based and social art practice, as well as his work as founder of St. Louis’ Northside Workshop, “Mound City” sees Chávez taking an introspective, personal approach to these monumental elements of the region’s built environment.

Drawing and mark-making has long sat at the center of Chávez’s visual practice, and many of the works in “Mound City” take the mounds as visual cues, starting with the form suggested by the mound and moving outward, exploring this basic shape through many different media. Other works read the mounds through the lens of personal and collective history; pieces that incorporate embroidery and basket-weaving reflect on the construction techniques utilized by the mounds’ builders nearly a millennium ago and their resonance with the creative practices of Chávez’s Peruvian heritage. Through these diverse forms, “Mound City” provides a new perspective on the ways that artists relate to place and the layers of history that comprise urban environments.  


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The return of the Loaf , ink on paper with aluminum tape, 2018

The return of the Loaf, ink on paper with aluminum tape, 2018

Mound City (blues scribble) , ink, yarn, and aluminum tape on linen, 2018

Mound City (blues scribble), ink, yarn, and aluminum tape on linen, 2018

Juan William Chávez is an artist and cultural activist who creates and shares space in the built and natural environments to address community-identified issues. At the heart of Chavez’s practice is his studio research, which includes drawings, films, photographs, craft, labor, architectural interventions, and unconventional forms of beekeeping and agriculture. Chávez utilizes art as a way of researching, developing, and implementing projects of creative placemaking and social engagement. His exhibitions feature his studio research in the form of multimedia installations. Chavez has exhibited his work at venues such as ArtPace, Van Abbemuseum, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Tube Factory Artspace, 21c Museum Hotel, Laumeier Sculpture Park and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. His interdisciplinary approach to art has gained the attention and support of prestigious institutions like the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts,  ArtPlace America, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Art Matters Foundation. Chávez holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

"Mound City” opens with a public reception on August 25 from 6-9pm and runs through September 22. Open hours will be held on Saturdays 12-5pm and by appointment. Viewing appointments may be scheduled by email at director@floodplaingallery.org.