Elmhurst Art Museum presents “House Practices: Discussion with Architects Mejay Gula, Julia Sedlock & Amanda Williams,” Saturday, November 7


In conjunction with Museum’s current No Place Like House exhibition and Chicago Architecture Biennial



October 21, 2015 (Elmhurst, IL)— In conjunction with its current architecture exhibitions, No Place Like House and Lessons from Modernism: Environmental Design Strategies in Architecture 1925-1970, Elmhurst Art Museum proudly hosts the panel discussion House Practices featuring architects Amanda Williams, Julia Sedlock & Mejay Gula Saturday, November 7, from 2-4pm. The discussion, conceived of and moderated by architect and School of the Art Institute Lecturer Andrew Santa Lucia, will examine the dynamic, “house-based” practices of these female architects as they have lived and worked in Chicago.


Amanda Williams’ ongoing Color(Ed) Theory Interventions on Chicago’s South Side investigates cultural associations of colors (such as Harold’s Chicken Shack Red and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Orange) and their homogenous application to soon-to-be-demolished houses in Englewood. Julia Sedlock’s notions of Smallness have framed her practice to deliver playfully unexpected results within domesticity using shapes and disciplinary histories interchangeably. As the former lead designer for Theaster Gates Studio and Rebuild Foundation, Mejay Gula’s practice focused on the creative reuse of existing materials and vacant buildings to revitalize under-served pockets of South Side of Chicago.


“Andrew Santa Lucia’s year-long exploration of Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House at Elmhurst Art Museum resulted in two major exhibitions that highlight the difference between house and home. Wishing to expand this discussion across approaches and gender, we invited these three women to present their innovative architectural projects and current thinking about the meanings and implications of house and home today,” said Staci Boris, Elmhurst Art Museum Chief Curator & Director of Public Programs.


This conversation is held in tandem with the first Midwest appearance of Lessons from Modernism – an acclaimed exhibition organized by The Cooper Union in New York that examines 25 modern building projects through the lens of sustainability—on display at Elmhurst Art Museum through November 29, 2015 and coinciding with the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. The first architecture exhibition presented by the Museum, Lessons from Modernism offers a new context for the Museum’s McCormick House, designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1952, and includes Santa Lucia’s related exhibition, the No Place like House intervention. This site-specific installation, guided by “Miesian Mysticism,” a fictional religion uncovered by Santa Lucia, features a series of altars that utilize both the living room space and the newly opened west wing, to transport viewers into a temple of images, objects and offerings.


The House Practices discussion is free to Elmhurst Art Museum members, and free to the public with admission to the Museum. For more information on House Practices or Elmhurst Art Museum membership, please visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.




Amanda Williams is an artist, architect, educator, activist and cultivator of an art form that combines spatial sensibilities with love of color. She studied architecture at Cornell University and practiced in that field for a number of years in the Oakland Bay Area before turning her full attention to visual art. Color is a central preoccupation in her work, with her palette deriving largely from the urban landscapes she traversed as a child in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood. She has exhibited and lectured throughout the U.S., including: Studio Museum in Harlem; Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; and the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of many awards including, most recently, a 3Arts Award, a Joyce Foundation scholarship, the Eidlitz Travel Fellowship to Ethiopia, the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation’s Heroes & Hearts Public Art Commission, and the Empress Award. Williams is a current participant in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. She is Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she teaches Design and Color Theory.


Julia Sedlock is a trained architect, writer, and founding partner of Cosmo Design Factory, an upstate NY design practice in the midst of building its first two houses. Through a combination of commissioned projects and independent research, their work explores ways that architectural form playfully engages with the world to promote social and cultural interaction. In addition to their house projects, Cosmo Design Factory recently completed temporary installations for arts organizations in New York City and the Hudson Valley. Sedlock has an M. Arch and M.A. in Design Criticism from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has work published in PLAT Journal, MAS Context, Soiled and Conditions Magazine.

Mejay Gula is currently a Building Strategist and Construction Manager with the Place Lab think tank. Prior to joining that team, Gula was the lead designer and construction manager for Theaster Gates Studio. Over her ten years of experience as an architect, Gula’s practice has focused on the adaptive reuse of forgotten buildings in Chicago. Since 2011, she’s worked closely with Gates and his not-for-profit organization, Rebuild Foundation, focusing on arts and cultural redevelopment in under-resourced communities. Through this work she has completed several of Gates’ arts-focused projects in Chicago, including the recent Currency Exchange Café and Black Cinema House. One of her current projects is the build-out of a historic former bank, which opened as part of the Biennial. Prior to her involvement with Gates, Gula was a project architect for Landon Bone Baker Architects for six years.

Andrew Santa Lucia [moderator] is a Lecturer in the Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated Florida International University, Miami with a BA in Architecture in 2008, a M.ARCH in 2010, and received an MA in Design Criticism from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. Santa Lucia is the Co-Creative Director of AND/OR US, an architectural collaborative, which focuses on architecture, interior design, design-build contracting and speculative design projects.


Elmhurst Art Museum is located in Elmhurst (IL), 25 minutes from downtown Chicago by car or public transportation (Metra). The Museum is both an international destination for Mies van der Rohe scholars and fans and a regional center where people from Chicago and the western suburbs learn to see and think differently through the study of the art, architecture and design of our time.

The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am – 5pm (7pm on Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is $8 ($7 for seniors) and free for students and children under the age of 18. For more information please visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.