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Of Love: A Labor – Ruth Burke's Interdisciplinary Solo Exhibition

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Co-Prosperity is thrilled to present Of Love: A Labor, a solo installation by Ruth Burke, in our window space. This exhibition explores the textures and traces of care and examines how labors of love materialize. Rather than being about animals, it is an exhibition of animals and their relationships with humans. Art history often obscures non-human animals with their symbolism, turning them into metaphors that distract from their vibrant, material existence.

Burke’s work challenges these objectifying paradigms by inviting animals into the artistic process as active agents and co-producers. Her practice is rooted in the context of agricultural animal husbandry in the American Midwest. The term husbandry’ derives from the Old Norse husband’ or house dweller,’ indicating proximity and duration. Draft animals have lived and worked alongside humans for millennia, shaping the land, bodies, and ethical questions of power, labor, and kinship. In Illinois, the ancestral lands of native peoples such as the Peoria, Illini, and Myaamia nations and draft animals were instrumental in the colonial project. Burke explores how draft animal power might be harnessed in new ways and how oppressive human power can be shifted and softened in domestic contexts.

Through installations, performances, and large-scale earthworks created in collaboration with animals and plant life, Burke explores how non-human agencies can participate in and sustain art-making practices, contributing to collective acts of multispecies world-building.