More local artists than ever—17!—are sending work to the Whitney Biennial (opening March 7 in New York City), eight of them at the behest of cocurator Michelle Grabner (No. 36). Anyone who wonders about the power of the Biennial to elevate an unknown’s career need only to turn to page 83 and read about Theaster Gates (No. 10), whose meteoric rise began after he commandeered a corner of the Whitney cafeteria in 2010.

The emerging artist

Elijah Burgher, 35

Gallery: Western Exhibitions

This Humboldt Park artist has been building buzz since exhibiting several explicit drawings at Art Chicago in 2010. Chock-full of enigmatic symbols and references to witchcraft—and sometimes naked men—Burgher’s graphic ruminations provide a lens into a dizzying, vibrant universe where curiosity and experimentation reigns.