Adelheid Mers

Works and Projects

Art Work (Visual Art) (Music) (Management)

2012 - present

Jim Duignan, artist and educator. Studio Session.


James Falzone, musician and composer. Studio Session.


Katharina Klement, composer and performer. Studio Session.

Art Work (Visual Art): Deborah Boardman

Vienna Materials: Art Work (Music)

Art modes of thinking, artists' epistemes, are at the center of my interest. Here I assembled excerpts from interview notes, drawings, scenarios, diagrams, matrices and animations, variously created based on conversations conducted with musicians, composers and sound artists about their work modes and processes, and their sound/video responses to the drawings. These files are contextualized through writings and additional artworks, by participants in and observers of the project. Interviews were conducted beginning in 2012, facilitated by colleagues in Vienna.

Research catalogue may load slowly.

Chicago Materials: Art Work (Music)

Diagram-facilitated conversations with experimental musicians, composers and sound artists in Chicago.

Research catalogue may load slowly.


Talking Whiteboards


For three weeks, I am inviting visitors to my studio, to talk out loud what any one (or several) of seven diagrams  inspire them to consider. I am posting this at the end of the first week. The diagrams are presented on rolling Whiteboard easels. They can be annotated, and wheeled into any desired configuration. The seven boards are:

Mostly, The Braid was engaged, at times supplemented by Studio Critique, Creativity (after Duchamp and Torrance) and Flusser’s Exile and Creativity. Thanks go to all who have already participated and are still scheduled to join me, to Asha Veal Brisebois, who is facilitating this project, to Jared Larson for recording, and to DCASE for contributing funds.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4


Project Stream: Arts Ecologies

2013 - 2014

There have been 3 Arts Ecology projects to date. All were carried out with graduate students of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), in the Arts Administration and Policy Department that I currently chair. I believe that the recently conducted Chicago Cultural Plan (2012) has opened a door for organizations to consider more formal inclusion of art inflected perspectives in community and urban planning processes. As an artist with a cultural policy context, I ask, observe, listen and hear differently from economics or sociology-based researchers. All Arts Ecology projects are located in or near Chicago: in Evanston, and in Chicago south and west side neighborhoods. They are based on interviews with stakeholders in bounded geographic areas. The project in Evanston culminated in an exhibition. The Chicago based projects generated posters for general distribution and feedback sessions with funders and stakeholders.

Arts Ecologies in the Research Catalogue

Arts Ecologies at Useful Pictures

Evanston Art Center

Enter The Matrix Exhibition and Residency


The matrix of the title refers to the 3Line Matrix, a diagram template that appeared in my work during a sabbatical, in 2012. It supports non-hierarchical, diagonal, spatial thinking. This exhibition traced the artistic evolution and current uses of this matrix. It contained four sections:

All works in the exhibition were printed, vitreous enamel on steel.

The expansive residency space was used to facilitate conversations with groups and individuals, using prepared Whiteboards.

Research Catalog Repository: Enter the Matrix


Face Field

A collaboration with programmer, Robert Woodley. Resulting Work was exhibited at the Enter the Matrix Exhibition. We also published an App, and submitted a project to Google's DevArt Competition that was shortlisted.


Enormous PDF Selfie diagram


A fractal 3 Line Matrix of my work, including texts and image samples, best viewed on a touch screen to zoom in and out using gestures. 25 MB. Presented on an Ipad, at Caps for Sale, an exhibition of work by artists wearing multiple hats (with Michelle Grabner, Matt Morris, Karsten Lund), curated by Nancy Lu Rosenheim, Bikeroom, Chicago

Link to Selfie in the Research Catalogue


Conference Matrix

8. Arbeitstagung Fachverband Kulturmanagement, Kufstein, Austria, January 2014 - conference notes.



Fractal 3-Line Matrix: Granting for Arts Organizations and Individual Artists, seen from Artists' Perspectives

A research project commissioned by the 3Arts Foundation, about artists' perception of granting frameworks. September 2013


More here


The Fractal 3-Line Matrix Template

Faculty Projects, Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2013


Conference Matrix

"Wissenskulturen im Dialog", Vienna, January 2013, serving as conference respondent. Here is the resulting Conference Matrix. It was modified and expanded in response to conference participants' comments.



AIR Krems, Austria and workshop at VBKÖ, Vienna.

More interviews were conducted in Vienna in January 2013. Here are the first of the resulting artist interview diagrams

July/August 2012



Conference Diagram

(Watch my 'featured research' conference presentation: 8:35 - 17:50)

Remaking Research, Vancouver, November 2012, full conference notes



Curatorial Project: Hairy Blob

Curatorial Project, Hyde Park Art Center, 2012

The Hairy Blob dissects traditional concepts of time and resources through artworks in video, sculpture, drawing, installation, dance, and sound. The exhibition shows how artists depict time by analyzing various built and natural environments. Rather than discussing time as memory or nostalgia, the works present time as a means to address notions of power and politics, and their impact on the use of resources. By employing geologic time; land use; archival history; historical data; environmental narratives; and mediated time (through film and computer manipulation) the participating artists - Becky AlprinNadav AssorDeborah BoardmanAshley Hunt in collaboration with Taisha Paggett, Sarah FitzSimons, Judith LeemannKirsten LeenaarsFaheem Majeed, and Emily Newman - address a wide range of ideas about the interdependence between time and materiality. Design contributions: Tristan SterkAdam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook

dedicated website

Read an Interview on Sixty Inches from Center, by Danielle Jackson



Exhibition, Co-posperity Sphere, Chicago, September 2011




D/RAFT Action Field Kodra

Kalamaria. Greece, September 2011




Diagram Talks - Without you I'm nothing - Interactions

Curated by Tricia vnn Eck, MCA Chicago, March 2011



Flexible Artworlds

Arts Organizations and Institutions ongoing/multiple versions



Conference Diagram

5. Arbeitstagung Fachverband Kulturmanagement, Basel, January 2011 conference notes



Conference Notes

HUMAK Helsinki Symposium May 2010, Cultural Management and Pedagogy: Discourses and Practice. conference notes



Family Portrait, commissioned through NJAPF, 2010



Embedded Artist Project

Department of Innovation and Technology, City of Chicago, 2010



Exhibition Diagram

Effervescent Condition, Chicago and  Xuzhou, China, 2010



Exhibition Diagram

The Studio, Sullivan Galleries, SAIC, 2009



The Quai Branly Guestbook

Chicago, 2009

defer defer


Ispace Organogram 2009



Curatorial Project: Object Symposium


Curatorial event co-organized with Dan Devening and students in the the course "Complementary Practices - MA/MFA Collaborations" at St. Paul’s Cultural Center in Wicker Park.


Art as Research Diagram



Museum Ethics Conference Notes, 2008



Schneeberg Organigramm 2008

Organogram of the Dept. of Applied Art of the Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau, Saxony, Germany, based on a site visit and interviews with students and faculty, July, 2008



Hairy Blob, Targets and Artist Talks: Drawings completed at the Banff Residency, 2008


residency description


Peck School of the Arts Organogram 2008

INOVAINOVA INSTITUTE, Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, March 28-May 18, 2008, Opening reception: Friday, March 28, 6-9 pm



Mapping the Chicago Resource Center for the "Re-Create" Benefit at Caro d'Offay Gallery, Chicago, Thursday, March 27, 2008

University of Central Florida: live mapping a virtual seminar with Katherine Hayles and Terry Harpold; mapping workshop with Craig Saper; Orlando, February 29, 2008


Exhibition: Here There Everywhere

diagram of texts about creativity, Cultural Center, Chicago, January - April 08



Rockford Art Museum Organogram 2007


Group show: "Fast Forward - SAIC in the 21st Century", at the Rockford Art Museum, October 19, 2007 - January 6, 2008


Game: Fertile Ground

A story telling game for Lakeview East, part of Art 44/46, October 13 - October 20, 2007


Exhibition: KSAMEC

In May 2007, I diagrammed Kerry Schneider's Master's Thesis, in which she attempted among other things to develop a metaphor for arts administration based on her thinking about sound and on imagery of fluidity. Her colleague, Elzabeth Chodos, organized an exhibition as part of an Arts Administration Symposium at ThreeWalls, Chicago.


An Instruction Set: How to make or read a diagram

DIY, Columbia College Chicago, A & D Gallery, 2007


Curatorial Project: Forks, Tables, Napkins


Supervised by Adelheid Mers and curated by participants in the graduate seminar "Diagrams in Art and Activism", Gallery 2, SAIC. The exhibition was part of Chicago’s Festival of Maps, a citywide event involving over 30 cultural and scientific institutions, focusing on the themes of Exploration, Discovery and Mapping. Forks, Tables and Napkins explored the processes of diagramming and mapping as forms of communication, as tools of multi-modal reasoning, and as artistic strategy. Artists: AndrewandAndrea, Mark Beasley, Peter Cardone, V. Corzo-Duchardt, John DeVylder, AnnieLaurie Erickson, Margo Graxeda, Andres L. Hernandez, with collaborators, Brendan Hudson, John Jines, Heejin Kim, Masaco Kuroda, Kyung Min Lee, Paul and Kate Lindholm, Valerie Magarian, Charlotte Marra, Noelle Mason, Matt Nelson, Mary Beth Noble, with collaborators D. Chase Angier, Marketa Fantova, Hague Williams, Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa, Yogi Proctor, Anne Romens, Bret Schneider, Amy Stibich, Amanda Thomson, Jan Tichy. A documentation set is part of the collection of the Joan Flasch Library at SAIC.


Site-specific Diagram: tentative positioning of two artistic modes, ‘Activism’ and ‘Pedagogy’, mainly in the context of political, social and economic New Institutionalist thought

For the exhibition "Negotiated Localities" at the SAIC's Betty Rymer Gallery, curated by Cindy Coleman and Claire Pentecost in 2007. A diagram in two sections, oil based paint markers on clear vinyl.

Stories of Origins



LoBot Gallery Organogram 2006

For the exhibition "New Cartographies" at the non-profit LoBot Gallery, Oakland, CA, I created an Organogram that showed how the 12 residents of the warehouse building that also houses the gallery intersect with that gallery and with art worlds.


Hyde Park Art Center Organogram 2006

A map of the Hyde Park Art Center, on the occasion of the opening of its new building with the "Takeover" exhibition.


Reading Blankets


Drawings on blankets after maps of Kim Mitseff's property in Colorado that were prepared by Kim and her family.

Curatorial Project: Early Adopters


3Arts, Chicago; With “Early Adopters”, I sought to raise the question of who takes on which responsibility in the field of culture. Artists: Michael Ryan, Deb Sokolow, Industry of the Ordinary (Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson), Georgia Kotretsos, Maria Paschalidou, Almuth Baumfalk, Mariya Strauss, Bhagya Ajaikumar, Marie Walz, Debra Sawyer, Tamara Albaitis, Melea Alexander, Jozef Amado, Danyel Ferrari, Michelle Tupko, Marie Liane Moersch, Zerrin Boynudelik and Aysegül Baykan, Lynne Heller, Laurie Hogin. 


Game: World of Art

Commissioned by Mary Jane Jacob as part of a poster for a symposium, also part of Diagram 5.1, 2005


Images after Texts by George Lakoff

"Backgrounds and Conversations", October 2004, City of Chicago Open Studio project and "Looking at/Looking through", Des Moines, Iowa, Drake University, Anderson Gallery (flyer, conversation between A. Mers and P. McGee, pdf, 5.4.MB). Diagrams after "Moral Politics - how liberals and conservatives think" by Georges Lakoff


Curatorial Project: Retrospectives


Gallery 312, Chicago; 12 artists were invited to create mini-retrospectives on their entire range of work, including administrative, educational and other endeavors. Artists: Edith Altman, Susan Bee, Frank DeBose, Elisabeth Condon, Ursula Damm, Michiko Itatani, Juanita Meneses, Claire Pentecost, Michael Ryan, Mira Schor, Buzz Spector, Amy Yoes.


Images after Texts by Vilém Flusser

x x x x x x x x

"HOME": diagrams after essays by Vilém Flusser, May 2003, Dorman+Torluemke, Hammond, IN also shown at the Flusser Archive in Cologne, at the INOUT festival in Prague, at Migrations at Legion Arts/CSPS, in Cedar Rapids, IA, and at Frühsorge Galerie, Berlin.


Operation: Human Intelligence, curated by Matthew Girson, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, May 2003 and at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN


Images after quotes from the IPIP Personality Test

x x x x x x x x x

"I AM", 10 graphics commissioned by the Hammond Arts Commission, July 2002


Images after books by 6 authors: Lester Frank Ward, Charles Sanders Peirce, Martin Buber, Carol Gilligan, Ellen Dissanayake, Marshall McLuhan

x x x x x x

digital paintings, acrylic on vinyl, in "nubo wave map (space) bubble", a group show curated by Barry Blinderman at at Illinois State University Galleries, January 2002


digital paintings, acrylic on vinyl, in "nubo wave map (space) bubble", a group show curated by Barry Blinderman at at Illinois State University Galleries, January 2002


installation of digital paintingsat "The Stray Show", "magazine", curated by Pedro Velez, Chicago, 2001


Curatorial Project: Face Off


Betty Rymer Gallery, SAIC; This juried exhibition featured work by students, faculty, and alumni of the School and questions how contemporary artists define their artmaking - through "formalist" or "relational" strategies. Concept: Adelheid Mers. Jury: Laurie Hogin, assistant professor, Department of Painting, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; Adelheid Mers; and M. Stone-Richards, assistant professor, Twentieth-Century European Art, Department of Art History, Northwestern University. Artists included: John Arndt, Brooks, Hye-Jeong Cho, Elisabeth Condon, David DeWert, Anne Drogyness, Jeffrey Earhart, Joan Fabian, Alison Frey, Turhan Karabey, Linda Kramer, Kathleen Kranack, Kyung Ih Kwon, Steven Labadessa, Michele Martin, Sung-Min Moon, Cheri Reif Naselli, Carrie Ohm, Star Padilla, Trvor Paglen, Rebecca Ringquist, Darrell Roberts, Michael Shaowanasai, Levi Smith, Jean Sousa, Bert Stabler, Erik Weisenburger, Aaron Wendl, Erik Wenzel, Elizabeth Wheeler.


Curatorial Project: Collaborative Fusion

September 2001

with Elisabeth Condon, 450 Broadway Gallery, New York. For thirteen days, from September 17-29, 2001, an experimental artistic collaboration took place at 450 Broadway Gallery, New York. Thirteen visual artists were invited to successively add artwork to an exhibition as to an emerging entity. The artists agreed to act in response to what they wwould find at the gallery on the dates they were individually scheduled to have control of the space. The work will have passed through the hands of all participants (and artists they invite) before it reached its final stage. The public was invited to attend during gallery hours as well as at two evening receptions. Artists:David Brody (9/20), Jennifer Coates (9/17,) Annette Cords (9/21), Lauretta Hogin (9/25), Norma Markley (9/19), Mery Lynn McCorkle (9/22) Paul Moran (9/28), Eung Ho Park (9/29) Carolanna Parlato (9/23), Alice Pennisi (9/27) Ray Rapp (9/24), Sheila Ross (9/18), Amy Yoes (9/26).


Illustrated Conference Paper: Applied Aesthetics

x x x
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images pdf


abstract of the "Applied Aesthetics" lecture at the CAA conference, 2001; full paper (pdf)


Retrospective Chart


Shortly after I began to make diagrams I intended to show outside of the classroom, where I was already using them, I looked to connect that new way of working with older pieces by creating a survey of my production, beginning with a sculpture I made in my first year as a student at the Düsseldorf Academy. Drawings, film, mobile sculptures, installations and light installations followed. Only once I had assembled this grid (it also includes a few references to works I looked at) I remembered that the very first sculpture, upper left, was based on a book, namely "Language, Thought, Reality", by Benjamin Lee Whorf. Once I figured out that my first diagram popped out right at the start, everything that followed took on a different tint.


Curatorial Project: Interactive Drawing/Collage on the Theme of Place


co-organized with Elisabeth Condon, Columbia College, Chicago; Artists: open call and participation


Curatorial Project: Millennium Fusion Project


with Mark Genrich and Shuko Wada, ARC Gallery Raw Space, Chicago. A collaborative exhibition, a pyramid scheme, encompassing 39 layered installations by as many artists created in three phases in a gallery measuring 6380 cubic feet. A reception was associated with each phase. Artists: Phase 1: Mark Genrich - kinetic disks; Adelheid Mers - par lights; Shuko Wada - white walls. Phase 2: Simon Anderson - presence; Adam Brooks - white letters; Jno Cook - spider web and silent sound installation; Anthony Elms - Christmas decorations; PatrickMcGee - kinetic string drawing; Arthur Myer - found rounds; Laurie Palmer - fans; Mary Patten - gift cups,3-d glasses, artists rules reprint; Lynn Pidel - plexi postgard project. Phase 3: Leah Abrahams - traffic light; Anonymous - tabloid on bench; Richard Ashcroft - sound installation; Deborah Boardman with Robert Metrick - apples and performance; Michael Bulka - unknown; Max King Cap - champagne case; Patrick Collier - poem on website; Matthew Hanner - photo with second generation member who invited him; Barbara Koenen - guerilla installation-glitter dots on walls and windows; Darlene Kryza - photos on black cardboard circles; Roger Machin - magnets on column; Darrin Martin - tent (also has a video in the Media Room); Kathleen McCarthy with Mitch Brandt - LED text display; Donald McGhie - Absence; Adam Mikos - 2 contamination suits (opening reception) and plastic entrance covers; Jocelyn Nevel - dental floss; Elisabeth Penker - installation with photos, text and sound; Claire Pentecost - remote control and car; Michael Piazza - extension cord; Robert Peters - orange text on wall and column; Alison Ruttan - confetti on windows; Brian Rumbolo - 2 prints on wall; Alison Safford - upside downer (metal head gear with lens); Joel Score - white lettering on wall, magnetic message board, footprints on paper on the ground (with Jake Jacobs), retirement sign and paperclip chains; Jackie Terrassa - crochet knick-knack; Shirley Tse - plexi and styrofoam column and corn pads mound; Shuko Wada - paper on the ground and permission on wall; Amy Yoes - green friendly sculptures.


Curatorial Project: Present


co-curated with Jackie Terrassa, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Artists: Lisa Conrad, Tom Torluemke, Eduardo Martinez, David Meyer, Arthur Myer, Shuko Wada, Lili Martinez, Chris Heenan, Dan Wallace and Jack the Dog (Jeff Kowalkowski/Carrie Biolo)


Light installations 1994 - 2001