Past Exhibitions > Mike Lopez Dealer's Choice October 3 - November 7, 2021

About the Artist
Michael Lopez is a public school educated, married, Chicago native whose interdisciplinary practice skirts around and sometimes focuses directly on systems, personal narrative, and craft. He received his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Select solo exhibitions include those at Outhaus (Urbana, IL), Material Exhibitions, Julius Caesar Gallery, and Adler & Floyd (all Chicago, IL). He currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

About the Curator
Lauren Leving is a curator and writer currently working as the Curator of Public Programs & Artist Residencies at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. Her work fosters artist-audience connections as a way of making contemporary art more accessible.

Prior to beginning her position with moCa Cleveland, Lauren was the Exhibition Manager at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago. She has curated exhibitions and organized performances at contemporary art spaces including ACRE Projects, Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. She holds an MA in Museum & Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois – Chicago and a BA in Art History from Tulane University.


As a part of the 2021 Terrain Biennial, Material presents Dealer’s Choice, a solo project by artist Mike Lopez. Part exhibition/part performance, this project examines methods of co-authorship and how an exhibition shifts when decisions are made by those installing the work.

In development since the summer of 2019, Dealer’s Choice spans the entirety of the pandemic. It holds a Midwestern move (mine) and soon, a baby (his), within its arms. It is a clear extension of Lopez’s practice, which seeks to blur the lines between curator, artist, and audience, challenging traditional notions of ownership and encouraging participation when engaging with his work.

In his investigations of the politics of authorship, Lopez relinquishes control of his objects. Embracing touch and movement, he readily assumes the risk of fingerprints and sacrifices pristine surfaces so that new, collective models of performance have the opportunity to breathe. Unafraid of the imperfect, his work is made with an eye towards future activation.

Blanketed in his own sly brand of humor and teetering on the edge of formalism, Lopez’s sculptures are material explorations that bring together the often-grotesque realities of our world with fictional histories drawn from pop culture to create a living archive. A soon to be father, his newest sculptures take a close look at birth, death, and the anxieties of the in-between. These phalluses, gritty guillotines, fragments of graveyards, and a white plaster torso without its head are peppered amongst candy-colored Pieces from his grad school days, introducing the past to the present. The pandemic has inevitably become a part of this timeline, a collective memory interspersed with the deeply personal. It is also the impetus for the collaborative structure of Dealer’s Choice.

What began as a traditional exhibition has transformed into a performative project with the goal of financially and creatively supporting artists and art handlers currently facing COVID-related employment instability. Its final manifestation, Dealer’s Choice, is a project in three phases with contracted preparators following loose guidelines delivered via “cootie catcher” for installation, deinstallation, and a mid-point show change.

Through these performances and an ever-changing layout, Lopez invites audiences to connect the dots between his sculptural stories, making space for others to shift the narrative and providing a microcosmic demonstration of the rapid speed at which history can reposition itself.

-Lauren Leving, Curator

Opening Reception:
October 3, 11am – 2pm

Midpoint Show Change:
October 17, 11am – 2pm

Closing Performance:
November 7, 11am – 2pm

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