Program (Epictitus’ Dictum)

The President’s Gallery at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, will present “Program / Suffer / Abstain / Deprogram,” a group exhibition guest curated by Bert Stabler, a Chicago art teacher, writer and artist. Stabler chose 16 exhibiting artists who submitted work that fit the theme of art “erasing and overwriting oneself, negatively and positively.” The work in the exhibition will be in a variety of media forms including video, painting and drawing and installation.Exhibiting artists include Nick Black, Edra Soto, David Moré, Chris Santiago, Jacob C. Hammes, Matthew Joynt, Kirsten Leenaars, Lee Relvas, Franklin Pollard, John Preus, David Scherer Water, Pilar Tena, Evan Burrows, Liz McCarthy, Paul Mack, and Thad Kellstadt.The college will host two public receptions on Thursday, June 7, 2012. The first from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. both in the gallery, room 1105. In addition, a performance and reading event titled “Punish Perception End Desire” will be held on Thursday, June 21, 2012, at 6 p.m. in room 1115. All events are free and open to the public.

Bert Stabler, the guest curator, says the exhibition theme was inspired by philosopher Epicetus who guided his followers to “suffer and abstain.” Stabler was particularly inspired by this quote from Epicetus,

Practise then from the start to say to every harsh impression, ‘You are an impression, and not at all the thing you appear to be.’ Then examine it and test it by these rules you have, and firstly, and chiefly, by this: whether the impression has to do with the things that are up to us, or those that are not; and if it has to do with the things that are not up to us, be ready to reply, ‘It is nothing to me.’

“But this detachment is not a neutral absence but a positive refusal,” said Stabler. “To suffer is an acceptance of a living experience. To abstain from suffering, or any desire, is to refuse to live, and to turn toward something infinite, ineffable and apprehended only in negation. Inevitably, this refusal is at the core of every discipline. The object of the discipline cannot help but become a fetish object for the countless refusals made on its behalf.”

Stabler hopes that all of the pieces in the exhibit will invoke a similar reaction. “Through art about erasing and overwriting oneself, negatively and positively, the artists in ‘Program / Suffer / Abstain / Deprogram’ will offer some ways of thinking about what stops our thinking, and forcibly turns it in another direction – with our full permission,” explained Stabler.

The President’s Gallery is in room 1105 at Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake Street. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. The exhibition opens June 4, 2012 and runs through August 3, 2012. For details, call the art department, (312) 553-5738, or visit

Biography of Bert Stabler, guest curator
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About City Colleges of Chicago
City Colleges of Chicago is the largest community college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, with 5,800 faculty and staff serving 120,000 students annually at seven colleges and six satellite sites city-wide. City Colleges of Chicago is in the midst of a Reinvention, a collaborative effort to review and revise City Colleges programs and practices to ensure students leave City Colleges college-ready, career-ready and prepared to pursue their life’s goals.

City Colleges of Chicago includes seven colleges: Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College. The system also oversees the Washburne Culinary Institute, the French Pastry School, two restaurants, five Child Development Centers, the Center for Distance Learning, the Workforce Institute, the public broadcast station WYCC-TV Channel 20 and radio station WKKC-FM 89.3. For more information about City Colleges of Chicago, call: (773) COLLEGE or