Bleem, whose work is currently on view in the exhibition “In The House: Sculpture for the Home” at the NIU Art Museum, is an artist, teacher, writer, Franciscan friar and Catholic priest. He earned his M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his M.Div. from the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago.
As an artist, Bleem examines the cultural construction of meaning by looking at what we discard and by transforming the non-precious through time-intensive accumulation utilizing simple constructive techniques. The resulting work — both 2- and 3-dimensional surfaces — raises issues ranging from apprehension to beauty, ecology to politics.
In his public lecture, he will discuss his research concerns, studio practice and interest in found materials as cultural indicators. Earlier in the day, he will meet with NIU students enrolled in a class on 3D forms in fiber.
Bleem has taught in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2000. His interests span historic and ethnographic textiles and processes, the dynamics of collecting, and material culture expressive of popular religious practices.
In his writing, Bleem investigates the intersection of art and religion in a monthly column for U. S. Catholic magazine; his essays have appeared in journals and exhibition catalogs.
The Illinois Arts Council has recognized his work with seven grants and individual artist fellowships. Bleem has participated in numerous residencies including the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program. The Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago represents his work.
Located on the west-end first floor of Altgeld Hall, the galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours.
Exhibitions and lectures are free; donations are appreciated. Pay parking is available in the visitor’s lot on Carroll Avenue and at metered spots in front of Altgeld Hall. Free parking is available Saturdays and during receptions and visiting artist lectures in the lot northeast of Gilbert and College Drives.
The exhibitions of the NIU Art Museum are funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum and the Arts Fund 2.
Call (815) 753-1936 for more information.