a contemporary art gallery in Chicago
A mirror, a dish, a window: Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal, Lesley Jackson, James Kao, Minami Kobayashi, Emily Sher, and Ann Toebbe | Online Viewing Room
A mirror, a dish, a window: Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal, Lesley Jackson, James Kao, Minami Kobayashi, Emily Sher, and Ann Toebbe | Online Viewing Room

A mirror, a dish, a window: Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal, Lesley Jackson, James Kao, Minami Kobayashi, Emily Sher, and Ann Toebbe | Online Viewing Room

September 12 – October 17, 2020
Curated by Elizabeth Lalley


Exhibition Checklist
prices and HIGH RES views of exhibition works


Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal, Interiority, 2020, photo print, 5 x 7 in.

Goldfinch is pleased to present “A mirror, a dish, a window,” a group show of works by Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal, Lesley Jackson, James Kao, Minami Kobayashi, Emily Sher, and Ann Toebbe.

Through a range of media, these six artists explore the intimate landscape of interior space. From functional objects to paintings and photography, the works wend through rooms, objects, and everyday gestures, revealing the emotional and psychological resonance of domestic surroundings and the “stuff” accumulated within them. The strangeness of time, as it often exists when we are lost in thought or fall into familiar rhythms, is explored here as nonlinear, layered, and personal—measured by our private rituals, and experienced through daydreams, memories, and moments of stillness. Together, these artists ask us to consider moments of intimacy and mystery that exist within our interiors, as well as the deep ties between our inner lives and the rooms in which we spend our days.

Installation view photos by Ryan Edmund.

about the artists:


Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal

Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal. “Did You Make it Home?” Ink, graphite powder, and charcoal on paper, 50 x 30 in (127.0 x 76.2 cm).

Influenced by Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal’s photographs, made in the early days of quarantine, capture scenes of solitude, companionship, and stillness. The personal, black-and-white series speaks directly to Bachelard’s notion that “[f]or a knowledge of intimacy, localization in the spaces of our intimacy is more urgent than the determination of dates.” Through language and image, Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal’s works merge interiority and domestic space, candidly reflecting on joy, pleasure, anxiety, and the unknown.


Lesley Jackson

Lesley Jackson’s poetic, functional objects take rituals that we casually perform, like brushing our teeth, lighting a candle, or taking daily medication, and slow them down, injecting such moments with care and attention. As she incorporates items salvaged from thrift shops with carefully crafted armatures, Jackson considers the symbiotic relationship between objects and methods of display. Both metaphysical and grounded, the works balance practicality and reverence, as they attempt to reconcile disconnections between our everyday things and ourselves.


James Kao


James Kao’s paintings and drawings begin by studying interior space and local landscapes intently, until his eyes begin to blur and outlines morph and collapse. Kao uses the shapes of spaces between familiar things (furniture and plants, for instance) as a map from which to build a new, abstracted landscape—one that speaks to the power of slow looking and its role in understanding and imagining place.

Minami Kobayashi
Minami Kobayashi’s paintings capture ordinary scenes and moments, while exploring how we comprehend, and even feel tenderness toward, the minutia of daily life. Like the dichotomous relationship between inside and outside, Kobayashi considers how objects like mirrors expose a complex duality of person and image—by reflecting, fragmenting, and distorting—as she sensitively explores the interiority of her subjects.


Emily Sher
Emily Sher’s ceramics await a dinner party. A stack of plates anticipates the low buzz of a crowded table; pasta shaped gently by hand; cheeses and flowers in vases arranged just so. Formed intimately through touch, her work is molded both through a knowledge of clay and its properties, as well as through an understanding of food and service: the pleasures of dining and of feeding people you love.


Ann Toebbe

Ann Toebbe, Sunset and Fireworks, 2020. Oil and gouache on panel. 20 x 18 inches.


Ann Toebbe, East View, 2020. Gouache and paper collage on panel. 20 x 18 inches.


Ann Toebbe, Holidays, 2020. Gouache and paper collage on panel. 20 x 18 inches.
Ann Toebbe depicts intricate interiors—her own and and those of people she knows—that reveal the emotional lives present in objects and domestic spaces, even when the occupants of the rooms are absent. Through a combination of paint and paper collage, the works contain dizzyingly minute details and spatial tensions, sensations that speak to piecing together memories, and to the conflicting perspectives associated with the passing of time and its psychic weight.
LINKS TO further readings, media + inspirations, by artist


Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal:

Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943. Maya Derren’s 14 min experimental film
The Kitchen Table Series. Carrie Mae Weems,1990
Dark Space: Architecture, Representation, Black Identity. Mario Gooden. Columbia University Press, 2016. 





emily sher:

Practice of Everyday Life, Volume 2: Living and Cooking. Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard, Pierre Mayol

From Chapter 13, Gesture Sequences: “A succession of gestures and steps, repeated and required. Inside: to the kitchen to prepare; from the kitchen to the dining room to serve and eat, getting up constantly to run and check the things on the grill or to fetch the mustard missing from the table; from the dining room to the kitchen to dear away the dishes; once again in the kitchen to wash and put things away. Outside: from the house to the market, to the grocery store, the bakery, the butcher shop, the wine shop; then back to the house, arms full of shopping bags. On the way, you pass a young woman even more heavily laden than you and who mumbles to no one in particular: “I’m just the family packhorse. All I do is carry, carry, carry.” Inside: to the kitchen to empty the bags; put away the groceries; wrap up the things to be put in the refrigerator; note down the expenses, check the change and the receipts. Sit down, finally.” 

Artist Bios:

Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, and independent curator. Her work is most often initiated by personal and social histories related to family legacy, queerness, community making, intimacy, and Audre Lorde’s naming of “the erotic.” Her practice borrows from visual traditions such as social portraiture, video assemblage, collage, and found images. Her work seeks to reinforce a different kind of gaze (and gazing) enacted through empathy, desire, love, connectedness, and longing. Zakkiyyah has been included in numerous group exhibitions and has had several solo exhibitions. She has also curated exhibitions at spaces such as Chicago Art Department, Blanc Gallery and Washington Park Arts Incubator at the University of Chicago. She currently holds the 2019- 20 Jackman Goldwasser Residency at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Zakkiyyah is also a co-founder of CBIM (Concerned Black Image Makers): a collective driven project that prioritizes shared experiences and concerns by lens-based artists of the black diaspora.

Lesley Jackson (American, b. 1990) lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Notable exhibitions include Murmurs Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Andrew Rafacz Gallery (Chicago, IL), Greenlease Gallery (Kansas City, MO), Hotel Art Pavilion (New York, NY), Bar4000 (Chicago, IL), Efrain Lopez Gallery (Chicago, IL), Chicago Artist Coalition (Chicago, IL), Forth Ward Project Space (Chicago, IL), Heaven Gallery (Chicago, IL), and NADA Art Fair with Hotel Art Pavilion (2020, 2018) and SPF15 (2016).

James Kao is a Chicago-based artist who makes paintings and drawings. Selected one-person exhibitions include Do it cuz you love it, China Projects, San Francisco, CA; Possible Worlds, Toomey Tourell Fine Art, San Francisco, CA; Domestics, Adds Donna, Chicago, IL; Ways of Worldmaking, Lloyd Dobler Gallery, Chicago, IL, and Starlight, boundary, Chicago, IL. He has attended various artist residencies including: Marina Abramovic Institute-West, San Francisco, CA; White Mountain National Forest Artist in Residence, Center Sandwich, NH; Catwalk Institute, Catwalk, NY; The Alfred and Trafford Klots International Program for Artists, Lehon, France; Trélex Residency, Trélex, Switzerland; and Montello Foundation, Montello, NV.

He is co-founder and co-director of 4th Ward Project Space in Chicago, IL. He holds M.F.A. and B.F.A. degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has taught courses in painting and drawing at Indiana University Northwest, Dominican University, Ox-Bow School of Art, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is Associate Professor of Art at Aurora University in Aurora, IL.

Minami Kobayashi (b.1989, Japan) is a Japanese artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York, and London, UK. She makes figurative egg tempera paintings that evoke a sense of intimacy and mystery through their depictions of ordinary people, animals, and places that seem vaguely surreal and slightly off- kilter. She has had solo exhibitions at Goldfinch (Chicago) and Baby Blue Gallery (Chicago) and has exhibited in group shows at Goldfinch (Chicago), Chautauqua Institution (New York), Western Exhibitions (Chicago), Jeannievent Gallery (London), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, 3331 Arts Chiyoda (Tokyo), and numerous other venues. Kobayashi’s work has been featured in publications such as NewCity (review, February 2019), Artmaze magazine, Saatchi Art (Invest in Art Report 2018) and Frase Got Talent Italy. Upcoming exhibitions and projects will be held at Kate’s little angel (Los Angeles), Setouchi International Triennale 2019 (Japan), and Dongdaemun Design Plaza (South Korea). She holds an MFA in Painting and Drawing from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (2018) and a BFA in Painting from Tokyo University of the Arts (2016).

Emily Sher (b. 1990 Chicago, Illinois) works in service and clay. Last year she combined both in a show called “Pervert’s Harvest” at Tusk in collaboration with Mary Eleanor Wallace, Mac Parsons, and Sofia Macht. She was also featured in Sofia Macht’s solo exhibition Aidōs at Adds Donna. She has a BA in Cultural Studies from Eugene Lang, has mostly worked in restaurants, and is currently learning about flowers and floral design at Field & Florist. 

Ann Toebbe grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio prior to earning her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art . She furthered her education with an MFA at Yale University and at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She was awarded a DAAD grant at the Universität der Kunst, Berlin, Germany. Based in Chicago, Toebbe has had solo exhibitions at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Tibor De Nagy Gallery, Steven Zevitas Gallery and Monya Rowe Gallery.