Templehead Living Archive


The Templehead Living Archive is a collection of remnants from the now defunct Templehead gallery, an artist-run space in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, conceived and directed by mixed-media/performance artist Heather Lynn. All remnants were  cataloged, documented, and distributed to other artists. Participating artists may keep the objects and are encouraged to integrate them into their practice in any way they please, but must 1) credit Templehead and 2) document any new work made with the Templehead objects.

All documentation of archive items, pertinent exhibitions, and new work may be found on the Templehead Living Archive website.

Katie Waddell conceived and curates the Templehead Living Archive.


The Archive

See the complete archive


"Four years ago I started writing a rock opera as part of an artist residency at Reversible Eye gallery. Halfway through its completion the gallery owners announced that due to unforeseen circumstances they were moving to the west coast ASAP. I was given the option of taking over the space, and even though I knew nothing about running a gallery and it wasn’t something I had ever imagined myself doing, my partner Mike and I decided to give it a try, at least until the rock opera was finished. We rechristened the gallery Templehead and with lots of love, blood, sweat, tears, epic mistakes and miraculous luck, we made it our own. In the three years since then we have put on two large scale performances, hosted countless art, music, and community events, created original programming, and over time developed the house rules that reflected what we felt Chicago needed. Though we called it a gallery, Templehead has always been our shapeshifting home where anything and everything was possible."

-Templehead as described by Heather Lynn


Exhibition of the Archive at Hume Chicago

We are moved by things. And in being moved, we make things.

-Sara Ahmed, “Happy Objects”

In her essay “Happy Objects,” cultural theorist Sara Ahmed writes not of making material things, but of the mutually generative nature of our encounter with objects. Objects, Ahmed claims, accumulate memories, feelings, and impressions for the user, even as the user assigns uses or meanings to the object. If we are moved by a thing, we assign the quality of being moved to that thing, and in future encounters, preemptively generate conditions for being moved by that thing.

This might suggest that our subjective experiences with objects are exclusive to ourselves, but subjectivity can be shared. “Groups cohere around a shared orientation toward some things as being good, treating some things and not others as the cause of delight,” Ahmed writes, “This is why the social bond is always rather sensational.”

If our experiences with particular object generate feelings and memories, and those affects can be shared, even form the basis of group experience and group identity, what of objects physically created by groups? What of quilts, meals, theater sets, songwriting, amateur carpentry, crafting or collaborative art-making? Arguably, art objects—especially art objects made for or by a group—seal the seeds of collective experience into their very form. Objects can signify group identity, but they can also generate the felt experience of togetherness. Objects have a symbolic life of their own, participating in the broader culture long after being severed from their original makers.


I visited Templehead for the very first time the day it closed to the public. The show on display was a retrospective of various works made and shown there over the years—a baroque (in the best way) arrangement of baubles, glitter, kitsch and queerness. The love Templehead’s community had for its space was palpable. I could sense it immediately, even as an outsider.

We are moved by things. And in being moved, we make things.

By re-circulating these objects into Chicago’s artist communities, my hope is that they will not only keep the spirit of Templehead alive symbolically, but like DIY talismans, move new makers to add to their communal aesthetic power.


Installation at ACRE Projects

From Scenario II: Let’s get this thing going for ACRE Projects, July 2016, Chicago, IL

I crafted this site-specific installation for Scenario II: Let’s get this thing going, a group exhibition at ACRE Projects.

The installation is the first iteration of new work generated by the Templehead Living Archive, and is intended to be the project’s material debut, coinciding with the launch of the website.

The textiles and other Templehead objects in the installation remain mostly unaltered from their original form. I made some repairs, fitted them to the allotted space, and, per the rules of Templehead Living Archive participation, and added a little of my own flair. By turning ACRE’s book nook into a Templehead microcosm, my intention is to invoke my one-time experience of Templehead for the viewer. The objects here are material memories—rent from their original context and adulterated with my own aesthetic sensibilities and personal effects.

Scenario II: Let’s get this thing going featured new works by JP Merz, Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez, Jordan Rosenow, Dain Mergenthaler, Katie Waddell, Shana Hoehn, Alee Peoples & Mike Stoltz, and was curated by Danny Floyd