The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art has just unveiled plans for an ambitious multi-site show with work by MacArthur fellow artists including Ndijeka Akunyili Crosby, Mark Bradford, Rick Lowe, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Fazal Sheikh, and Shahzia Sikander.
The museum, which itself was awarded a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to produce the show, has hired Abigail Winograd as curator to lead the project. The show is part of a celebration to mark 40th anniversary of the fellows program in 2021.
Titled “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” the exhibition focuses on the idea of “commons” to explore the “current sociopolitical moment, in which questions of inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access are constantly being challenged across a wide array of human endeavors,” according to a statement.
The exhibition involves collaborations with institutions across the city, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and will take place across multiple neighborhoods in the summer and fall of 2021.
The museum is “honored to have the opportunity to build on this dialogue as we continue to reflect on our own role and place on the South Side,” said Smart Museum director Alison Gass in a statement.
The complete list of artists will be announced later this year. However early confirmed projects include Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey, a companion to the Greenwood Art Project in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which engages citizens in a dialogue about a prosperous black neighborhood that was destroyed during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Black Well Street Journey will create a think tank and community hub on the city’s South Side aimed at understanding how to create economically viable and vibrant African American neighborhoods in the 21st century.
Also confirmed is Manglano-Ovalle’s Well, the latest in a series of site-specific installations aimed at sparking conversation about water as a common resource, as well as issues of climate change, and scarcity.
Branching out from the museum is a way to honor “Chicago’s tradition of socially-engaged artistic practice and its long history of the activation of art on the part of marginalized communities,” said Winograd, who has previously curated “The Other Transatlantic: Kinetic and Op Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America” at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, followed by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and the SESC Piñheros in São Paulo in 2017-2018.
The MacArthur Fellows program awards unrestricted fellowships of $625,000 to individuals who display extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.
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