C H I C A G O  G H O S T S:
Ghosts of the Art Institute of Chicago
by Ursula Bielski

One of the most fascinating paranormal investigations I ever did was by invitation of a graduate student in sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sculptor Thomas Gokey wondered if part of an artist's personality; indeed, his essence, remained behind in his works of art. Did something of the artist's soul become bound up in his art?  And could we, using ghost hunting equipment, detect some residue of it?

Gokey chose several pieces for our experiment, including an ancient Mexican figure known as "The Storyteller," and several modern pieces, including a work by the popular Jackson Pollock, known for his frenetic method of painting. Gokey told me that Pollock's movements while working had led some to wonder if he had some sort of disorder that played a part in the creation of his seemingly random, but surprisingly precise paintings.  We talked about it and likened it more than once to perhaps an electrical current, reminiscent of what is talked about in poltergeist agents.  Though we found no evidence of heightened electrical or magnetic currents at the site of the Pollock painting, we did experience some interesting activity at another location: Carl Andre's "Steel Aluminum Plain."  

This piece resembles a metal checkerboard and is installed on the gallery floor.  The artist meant for this piece to be walked on, so we stood on it and attempted to communicate with the spirit of the artist about a controversial event that occurred in his life: the death of his girlfriend, Ana Mendieta, when she mysteriouisly fell from the balcony of their high rise apartment in New York during an argument with Andre.  He was charged with second degree murder and agreed to be tried before a judge, declining his right to a jury trial. He was acquitted in 1988.  At the site of his sculpture, I wanted to ask Andre, still very much alive, if he was responsible for Ana's death.  Before I could get the words out, my EMF meter spiked , and my voice recorder shut itself off.

(Above:, I take EMF readings at Jackson Pollock's "Greyed Rainbow.")