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Laura Ortman, Smoke Rings Shimmers Endless Blur

April 26, 20247:30 pm

April 27, 20247:30 pm

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ASL and Audio Description available Sat, Apr 27.

Content warning: The program contains loud sounds.

About the Performance

Renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Laura Ortman performs two evenings of live, solo, multimedia concerts. Informed by her practice as a sculptor and installation artist, Ortman bridges the gap between music and fine art in her performances, describing her musical approach as “sculpting sound.” An accomplished violinist, her work encompasses a variety of textures and atmospheres created with the Apache violin, effects pedals, piano, guitar, and voice. In the MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater, Ortman’s original music is presented alongside her video work.

This performance is part of On Stage: Resonance, organized by Tara Aisha Willis, former Curator in Performance, with Laura Paige Kyber, Assistant Curator of Performance.

Runtime: approx. 45–60 min.

Special thanks to the following artists for their contributions to the videos that appear in Ortman’s performances at the MCA Chicago:

Razelle Benally / Red Brigade Film, 2020, on location Brooklyn, New York.

Daniel Hyde and Echota Killsnight / Laura Ortman, Jock Soto, Nanobah Becker collective, 2024, on location Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Content Warning

This performance includes the use of theatrical haze, moving images, and loud, sometimes abrupt, sounds.

Ear plugs are available upon request for all performances. If you need wheelchair seating or have limited mobility, staff members are available to assist you.

Access Information

The performance on Saturday, April 27, features ASL interpretation and Audio Description.

ASL provided.Audio description available.

About the Artist

A soloist musician, composer, and vibrant collaborator, Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) creates across multiple platforms, including recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks. She has collaborated with artists such as Tony Conrad, Jock Soto, Raven Chacon, Nanobah Becker, Okkyung Lee, Martin Bisi, Jeffrey Gibson, Caroline Monnet, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Martha Colburn, and New Red Order, as well as part of the trio In Defense of Memory. An inquisitive and exquisite violinist, Ortman is versed in Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, and amplified violin, and often sings through a megaphone. She is a producer of capacious field recordings.

Ortman has performed at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, The Stone residency, The New Museum, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, The Toronto Biennial, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, among countless established and DIY venues in the US, Canada, and Europe. In 2008, She founded the Coast Orchestra, an all-Native American orchestral ensemble that performed a live soundtrack to Edward Curtis’s film In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), the first silent feature film to star an all-Native American cast.

Ortman is the recipient of the 2023 Institute of American Indian Arts Fellowship, 2022 Forge Project Fellowship, 2022 United States Artists Fellowship, 2022 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists, 2020 Jerome@Camargo Residency in Cassis, France, 2017 Jerome Foundation Composer and Sound Artist Fellowship, 2016 Art Matters Grant, 2016 Native Arts and Culture Foundation Fellowship, 2015 IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Social Engagement Residency, 2014-15 Rauschenberg Residency, and 2010 Artist-in-Residence at Issue Project Room. Ortman was also a participating artist in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Related Content

Hear about Smoke Rings Shimmers Endless Blur from Laura Paige Kyber, Assistant Curator of Performance.

Subscribe to MCA NOW for more podcasts from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.


Lead support for the 2023-24 season of MCA Performance and Public Programs is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.

Generous support is provided by Ginger Farley and Bob Shapiro, Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation, N.A., Trustee; Susan Manning and Doug Doetsch; Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund; and an anonymous donor.

Additional generous support is provided by Diane Kahan and Anne L. Kaplan.

The MCA is a proud member of the Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District.