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Black Flame

Liu Jianhua, Black Flame, 2017. Installation view, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2019–20. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.
Liu Jianhua, Black Flame, 2017. Installation view, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2019–20. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

Friday, June 12, 2020, 12 pm via Zoom

Please join us for “Black Flame,” a participatory experience that combines live music with optional at-home art-making to honor community and memorialize loss with the Class of 2020. Inspired by Liu Jianhua’s work of in the Smart Museum of Art and Wrightwood 659’s presentation of The Allure of Matter, “Black Flame” is developed by Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2020 Lab Artist Irene Hsiao and members of UChicago a cappella groups Make a Joyful Noise, Run for Cover, Unaccompanied Women, and V O I C E S.

Bring your own paper and drawing tools and join us!

Performed by



Black Flame

“Porcelain… only comes into existence after being fired at over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.”

“Black is not the same as red flames. It is more depressed but also has more of a sense of power. Perhaps it is more relevant to the reality we live in today.”

“Because it’s all made by hand, a lot of the traces of people—the close relationship between this process and the material—are left on it.”

Liu Jianhua


“Black Flame” honors community and commemorates loss with music, dance, writing, and drawing. It is dedicated to the Class of 2020.

Original Music

“Pyrography” (2020), composed by Thomas McLees and Maggie Colton and premiered at this performance

Recorded Music

“Ghosts,” arranged by Logan Fuller and Omar El-Charif, opb. The Presets, soloist: Logan Fuller, in Run for Cover’s One (2014)

“Kamikazee,” arranged by Leo Bevington, opb. MISSIO, soloists: Julianne Lorndale, Ri Desta, and Rebecca Koppel, in Unaccompanied Women’s Let Me (2019)

“Burn,” arranged by Chris Rishel, opb. Ellie Goulding, in Voices in Your Head’s LIGHTS (2016)

About the Performers

Maggie Colton (soprano, composer) is a 4th year almost-graduate studying cancer biology at the University of Chicago. She will be starting a PhD program at UCSF in the fall. When she’s not in the lab, she enjoys making music with her a cappella group, Make a Joyful Noise, as well as the Dirt Red Brass Band where she plays sousaphone. She also loves traveling (though not at the moment) and baking more bread than she can reasonably eat.

Rebecca Koppel (alto, a cappella liaison) is a 4th year undergraduate who will soon graduate with a BA in Comparative Human Development and a minor in Health and Society. She has sung with Unaccompanied Women all through college and served as the A Cappella Council President for the past 3 years. After graduating, she will work as an Analyst in Health Advances in Newton.

Thomas McLees (bass, composer) is a graduating 4th year studying political science at the University of Chicago. He currently works as a research assistant with the Center for Decision Research. Formerly a member of V O I C E S, a co-ed a cappella group on campus, Tom is honored to be taking part in this art piece and looks forward to discovering the artistic endeavors the future has in store for him.

Ryan Wang (tenor, technical director for sound) is a master’s student of quantitative social sciences. His research focuses on geographic heterogeneities of labor practices. In his free time, he sings with Run for Cover. He is also a private pilot.

Irene Hsiao creates performances inspired by visual art, including artworks by the Monster Roster, Bingyi Huang, Emmanuel Pratt, Virginio Ferrari, Tang Chang, Philippe Parreno, Cevdet Erek, Henry Moore, and The Allure of Matter. She is a 2020 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist.