MEET JANAE CONTAG
JaNae Contag is a Chicago-based artist, musician, photographer, and educator. She received her MFA in Visual Art from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Art at Washington University in St. Louis and her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio. Contag’s practice spans photography, video, music, performance, drawing, and interactive installation.
NÆ is Contag’s musician persona and the performative embodiment of her visual art practice. She writes and performs original music alongside her partner Ryan Black (artist, composer, producer, and engineer). With her inquisitive electronic sound and humorous lyrical satire, NÆ delivers a subversive critique of the American desire for wealth, perception, and land. Her original music videos have been featured on VEVO, and she has collaborated with Black and Creative Developer Nathan Glynn on creating a series of original video games audience members play as projected visuals during her performances. NÆ and Blizz (Ryan Black) launched a live-streaming interactive / improv performance series, “Saturnae”, amidst the pandemic in 2020. NÆ is releasing her first album, Push Button Future in 2021.
Contag teaches photography and design at The Art School at DePaul University and at the School of Music, Art, and Theater at North Park University. In addition to her creative and academic work, Contag is a commercial photographer in Chicago.
Contag’s artwork has been exhibited at galleries and museums across the country, including Co-Lab Projects in Austin and the Michael and Noemi Neidorff Gallery in San Antonio, TX; The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Intersect STL, Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, Free Paarking, and The Luminary Center for the Arts in St. Louis, MO; Central Booking and Trestle Projects in Brooklyn, NY; and Parallax Labs, The Carlson Tower Gallery, Martyr’s, and The Wilmette Theatre in Chicago, IL, and others. Her work has been featured in Esthetic Lens Magazine, Fotoseptiembre, The Chicago Tribune, The COMP Art & Design Magazine, Vellum Magazine, Forgotten Chicago, DePaul University Radio, and the Artists of the Industry Podcast.
MEET RYAN BLACK:
Ryan Black AKA “Blizzle” is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer, President of REB Records, and leader of the artist collaborative Black’s Backbone. With a vast artistic vision for creating experiences, Blizz is grounded by almost two decades of audio production and professional work as a jazz and classical musician. He holds his Master’s of Performing Arts Technology in Sound Engineering from the University of Michigan where he also completed his Bachelor’s of Arts in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation – trumpet and Bachelors in Performing Arts Technology. Black is also a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, in the Audio Arts & Acoustics program.
Blizzle’s most familiar work environments include large-scale studios, concert venues, production studios, corporate podiums, festival stages, and sometimes a laptop by the lake.
In talking about what actually makes creative collaboration work he says, “the key is the people, and each member’s drive to be involved, create and learn. Then, we figure out how to fit it all together. We figure out how to make some ‘ cool $##& every day!”
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Our theme music is written and mixed by Chicago-based composer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Black of the Black’s Backbone collaborative. And produced by REB Records.