About  J e l l o
Mission

The J e l l o Performance Series strives for full artist visibility and inclusivity by creating space for accessible, low-stakes, supportive performance opportunities throughout the city of Chicago.

Like Jell-O, the series is easily made. It jiggles, it morphs, it can take any form. All you need is a few simple ingredients to create a delicious masterpiece… sticky, sweet, and satisfying. This is the motivation behind every J e l l o show. An artist has an idea; J e l l o provides the space to explore that idea.

The J e l l o Performance Series was created in response to a need in the Chicago dance community for a space where performing artists of all experience levels and disciplines could come together to share their work and support each other. The series values and upholds a safe, low-stakes, supportive environment, where anyone at any stage of their career can show any iteration of an idea on stage. In its evolution, J e l l o curators have expanded the series to different venues, imagining different ways a show could take form. J e l l o provides the space for curators and artists alike to try, risk, experiment, create, and be in community.

The series also serves as an opportunity for professional development for artists at no cost by providing free video documentation of the performances, as well as compensating artists for performing.

Story

The J e l l o Performance Series was founded in January of 2017 by performance artist Jessica Cornish. Her goal was to bring together new and established artists into one space, sharing their art and building community. After two very successful shows at Links Hall, Jessica passed the series to Tuli Bera and Carla Gruby (two new artists in Chicago at the time). Soon after, Brice Hartmann (software engineer) joined the team to create the J e l l o website and portal--a true game changer to manage the series.

In May of 2017, Bera formed and solidified a relationship with Elastic Arts with the intent of involving Elastic’s experimental music community. In 2018, Bera also curated a show at Comfort Station involving aerial acts, dance for camera and movement classes, thus expanding on what the J e l l o Performance Series could support.

In Fall of 2018, Sarah Stearn (new artist at the time) joined the J e l l o team as co-curator with Bera. They curated the next year of shows, with Stearn gradually taking over more responsibilities. She connected with Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, curating an improvised performance with dancers, musicians, and a camera in collaboration with the exhibit “Jerry’s Map” to ring in J e l l o’s second anniversary.

The series slowed down during the pandemic, but Stearn still made new connections and continued its expansion. With the help of CJ Fink (arts administrator) and Laura DeAngelis (dancer and photographer), Stearn hosted J e l l o’s first virtual show of dance films. J e l l o also had its first outdoor show at Loyola Beach, co-curated by Julia Schaeffer (dancer).

J e l l o has totaled 28 shows to date! The team is excited for the J e l l o story to continue as the series evolves and expands further into the Chicago artist community.

Meet the Team
J e l l o has uplifted me by revealing my capacity for administrative work and knacks for organization, providing support, and communicating with fellow artists. Curating has allowed me to bring my own ideas to fruition - I’m able to imagine shows in (un)conventional spaces and give those ideas a try, transforming fantasy into reality. J e l l o shows me that anything is possible, especially in a low-stakes environment and with a supportive community.
Sarah Stearn was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She graduated with a BFA in Dance from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018. After graduating, she moved back to the windy city where she reconnected with Tuli Bera (also a U of I alum). Stearn has been on the J e l l o Team as a curator since Fall of 2018. She devises the show calendar and manages J e l l o’s online Portal: communicating with artists, organizing show materials, promoting the show, and distributing performance footage. She runs production on the day of the show, including tech rehearsal and video documentation. She also works on expanding the series by tapping into the Chicago performing arts community, keeping her ear to the ground on new venues, curators, artists, and ideas of all kinds for future shows.
It was through J e l l o that I started discovering all the artists that make Chicago such a rich and diverse arts community. I was one of thousands of artists- which is a humbling thought! I always left a show feeling so inspired. Through J e l l o I understood that to be an artist is not just to perform or share your work but also to witness others. It has been incredibly fulfilling to uplift so many artists!
Tuli Bera is a movement artist based in Chicago and has been involved in the dance community since 2016 when she arrived. She first shared her work at the very first J e l l o curated by Jessica Cornish at Links Hall in 2017. Bera joined the J e l l o team soon after and began producing and curating shows alongside Carla Gruby and later passed the series to Sarah Stearn and took a backseat/advisor role in 2019. Outside of J e l l o, Bera loves to teach, perform and collaborate with various Chicago artists and organizations: Ishti Collective, Aerial Dance Chicago, Mandala Dance, Cristal Sabbagh, Ayako Kato, Ashwaty Chennat, Laksha Dantran, Paul Giallorenzo and Scott Rubin.
For me, J e l l o has been an incredible opportunity to hone my skills and realize the ideology that technology is a tool which should be applied to benefit humankind. Art and human expression are incredibly important and in an increasingly advanced technological society they help keep us grounded in our humanity. It is an honor to be a part of the J e l l o journey and to help support local artists.
Brice Hartmann is a software engineer with ten years of professional experience across varying industries. He has been a part of both large corporations as well as startups and is currently working as a freelancer out of Chicago. Brice enjoys creating software tools with purpose, coding into the wee hours of the morning, and most things technical. You can find him online at bricehartmann.com.
Photographers & Videographers
J e l l o photographers and videographers include: Tuli Bera, Nathan Mansakhan, Brice Hartmann, Sarah Stearn, Carla Gruby, Charlie Kessler, Jacob Joseph Buerger, Laura DeAngelis