At the core of Chicago’s intellectual and creative life stand these influential artists for whom this city itself was a springboard for a new way of thinking about art at the intersection of society. Their work has influenced generations, having made social practice a worldwide phenomenon. Now this exhibition brings their ideas alive through 10 newly commissioned projects. Exhibiting artists: Jim Duignan, Pablo Helguera (BFA 1993), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (MFA 1985), Dan Peterman, Pocket Guide to Hell, J. Morgan Puett (MFA 1984), Michael Rakowitz, Tamms Year Ten and Laurie Jo Reynolds (MFA 2000), Temporary Services, and Rirkrit Tiravanija (MFA 1986).View Projects
An advocate for the transformative potential of art through what he termed “social sculpture,” Joseph Beuys made his first trip to the United States in 1974, with the purpose of promoting his Free International University. He spoke at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during his American tour, where he was met with an enthusiastic reception and a lively exchange. This chalkboard, created during that lecture-performance, maps the connections Beuys perceived between the spiritual, social, and natural worlds. This work returns to Chicago on the 40th anniversary of the artist’s historic trip, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
German curator and author Leonhard Emmerling will speak about Beuys’ Free International University on Monday, November 10, 6:00 p.m., at the Goethe-Institut, 150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 200.
This presentation is made possible with generous support by the Goethe-Institut Chicago and the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago.
Published by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Distributed by the University of Chicago Press
Series editors: Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller
This series of four, 225-page illustrated books examines for the first time Chicago’s thinkers and makers that have defined the intellectual and creative life of this city. With nearly 30 chapters each, these volumes locate Chicago’s critical social thought and practices within a history of modern urban change and its commensurate societal issues as played out in the complexities of its communities. The inspirational starting point is Jane Addams; our mission is to recall movements and collectives in the 20th century; and the need in the fields of art, architecture, and design is to recognize Chicago’s present-day committed practitioners, offering a depth of geographic and historical context for the work they continue around social design, including education, housing, food, ecological urgencies, prison reform, and much more.
This publication series is made possible through grants from SAIC’s Earl and Brenda Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
Oxherding is based on a medieval Chinese Buddhist parable of self-discovery comprised of pictures and verse. The original Chinese poems tell of a herder who searches for an elusive ox. Combined with images, these texts serve as an instructional tool, guiding Zen monks through successive stages of awareness toward enlightenment.
This contemporary American version— created by painter Max Gimblett and author Lewis Hyde—consists of ten ink drawings, ten poems with prefaces, and jointly produced artist books.
Begun in 2002 and completed in 2010, Hyde started by gathering existing translations and made his own first drafts, “translating from English to English.” Working with a specialist adviser, he then moved character by character through the Chinese poems until he understood how they were constructed and what they had to say. Finally, he produced three English versions: a “one-word ox” (one English word per Chinese character), a “spare-sense ox” (each Chinese syntactic unit put into a simple English sentence), and an “American ox” which takes considerable liberties while trying to be faithful to Hyde’s intuitions about the meaning of the series.
Gimblett, a Zen lay monk and student of Jungian psychology who has long viewed artistic creation as a form of meditation, brings an open mind and heart to the practice of ink drawing. Using a Chinese brush loaded with Japanese ink, he made these images rapidly, in “one breath,” working from left to right across the handmade American paper. Unlike the traditional Oxherding pictures, Gimblett’s drawings are not illustrations, but rather embodiments of his spiritual connection to the themes of the series.
Oxherding has been organized for tour by the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College and previously shown there and at the Japan Society, New York, where the exhibition originated.
Join us for the closing celebration of our fall exhibition.
See A Proximity of Consciousness: Art and Social Action—last chance before the exhibition closes!
Shop at Temporary Services’ pop-up bookstore. Publishing Clearing House will have a full array of booklets created this fall.
Hear Hamza Walker in conversation with Ronne Hartfield, Edward Maldonado, and Robert Peters, 1:00–2:00 p.m.
Meet Publishing Clearing House authors, 2:00–4:00 p.m.
Experience Pocket Guide to Hell’s exhibition tour, 3:00 p.m.
Purchase artists’ project objects:
Enjoy holiday cookies and hot chocolate.
In the last decade, a growing number of artists, organizations, and activists in the Chicago area have created artwork and developed responses to what is now termed a “prison nation.” The US locks up more people than any other nation in the world and exhausts more resources on confinement and punishment each year. One in 99 adults in the US is incarcerated; the financial and social costs to tax payers and communities is staggering. Conservatives, liberals, and members of the left have all called for policy changes, yet when violence and poverty rage in Chicago neighborhoods, the common response is a call to lock more people away for longer prison terms.
Creative culture has been at the forefront of changing the public perception about the realities of social segregation, poverty, violence, and incarceration. Chicago-area artists have staged performances and exhibitions, created organizations, and developed long-term projects to alter entrenched thinking and unsettle business-as-usual.
What kinds of projects are happening that create a culture of change? Can art decarcerate? Change the law? Liberate communities from violence? Envision and enact new futures?
Join us for a monthly forum to learn about creative projects happening in the city that confront, agitate, and dismantle the prison nation.
Each month, several artists and groups will give short presentations on current work and share their experiences, challenges, and successes. The presentations are open to the public and all are welcome to an “open mic” to present their own projects and events at the end of the evening. Please join us in this lively discussion as we imagine and activate collective solutions addressing the state of our prison nation.
Creative Resistance in a Prison Nation is organized by Sarah Ross and Kevin Kaempf with support by SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 S. Halsted St.
Rachael Hudak is the National Coordinator of the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project and Project Manager for anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean. Hudak is a poet and storyteller whose work takes up questions of violence and incarceration. She has previously worked with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance and the Prison Creative Art Project.
Tirtza Even is a practicing video artist and documentary filmmaker for more than 15 years. Her recent work includes Natural Life, an experimental documentary made in conjunction with the legal efforts of the Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle. The project challenges inequities in the juvenile justice system by depicting, through documentation and reenactment, the stories of five individuals who were incarcerated for life without parole (natural life) for crimes they committed as youth.
Eddie Bocanegra is the Co-Executive Director of Youth Safety and Violence Prevention at the YMCA of Metro Chicago. His work is chronicled in the documentary The Interrupters. In 2011 he received the Heroes Award from Governor Quinn, and had the honor to speak at the United Nations. In addition, Northwestern, Yale, University of Southern California, and dozens of universities have invited Bocanegra to present on panels and give class lectures on violence prevention and social justice around ex-offenders. He is the recipient of the 2013 Marciniak Bright Star Award from the Bright Promises Foundation. Bocanegra is currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and is a Laurence Lynn Fellow.
33 S. State St., 7th floor
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) is a group of attorneys, artists, educators, and social justice activists, who have organized exhibitions, workshops, readings, screenings, and other events in an effort to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members, and the African American communities affected by the torture. Currently CTJM is working on a campaign seeking reparations for the survivors of Chicago Police torture.
Temporary Services has been creating exhibitions, events, projects, and publications since 1998. The group has produced collaborative and multi-year projects addressing incarceration. These include: Angelo, Drawings (2000), an exhibition and booklet; Prisoners’ Inventions (2003), featuring two publications and exhibition featuring recreated inventions made by prisoners, replica of a prison cell, and resource library; and Supermax Subscriptions (2008), a project utilizing frequent flyer miles to provide magazine subscriptions to Supermax prisoners.
Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP) is a coalition of artists, writers, and scholars who organize arts and humanities classes to people at Stateville prison. Each year, scholarly and creative work is developed in the prison that is then exhibited in neighborhood galleries. Over the course of an academic semester, artists and scholars on the inside and outside address key questions around ideas of mutual learning, questions of freedom, and power and the potential of creative culture.
Billy McGuinness became interested in the Cook County Jail in the fall of 2012, when he visited there as a graduate student of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His curiosity about the jail led him to the “Inmate Locator” page of the sheriff’s website, where, with any letter of the alphabet entered into the last name search field, visitors to the site could access detailed information about all current detainees, including their booking photos. Believing the images, and the conditions of their creation and display, to be emblematic of a system that demands further investigation, McGuinness felt compelled to share them; in the fall of 2013 he began contacting inmates by mail and asking to use their images. He simultaneously began contacting jail personnel and suggesting that the website be changed. Both projects came to a conclusion in the spring of 2014, when the “Inmate Locator” was altered to make detainee information harder to access.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 S. Halsted St.
Project NIA works to end youth incarceration by supporting community-based alternatives to the criminal legal system. Founded in 2009 NIA combines education and advocacy with direct work supporting community accountability and helping youth stay out of the criminal legal system. They host exhibitions and organize events to raise critical questions about policing, prisons, violence, and transformation.
Storycatchers Theatre is a youth development arts organization that prepares young people to make positive life choices through the process of writing, producing, and performing original musical theatre inspired by personal stories. Staffed by professional teaching artists, Storycatchers Theatre conducts ongoing multi-week programs with groups of youth who live in under-resourced neighborhoods or who are detained or incarcerated in the juvenile justice system. Workshops culminate in performances of a musical play built on a unified theme and story line.
Lucky Pierre is a collaborative group working in writing, performance, and visual forms. Lucky Pierre creates structures for engagement with various publics. In these forms, the group explores complex issues and ideas (political, aesthetic, social) in ways that accommodate a wide range of experience, styles, and approaches. Recent participatory projects include Final Meals and Actions for Chicago Torture Justice.
33 S. State St., 7th floor
96 Acres is a series of community-engaged, site-responsive art projects that address the impact of the Cook County Jail on Chicago’s West Side. They use multidisciplinary practices to explore the social and political implications of incarceration on communities of color. Through creative processes and coalition building, 96 Acres aims to generate alternative narratives reflecting on power and responsibility by presenting insightful and informed collective responses for the transformation of a space that occupies 96 acres, but has a much larger reaching outcome. 96 Acres is a project organized by Maria Gaspar.
Dorothy Burge is the Internship Coordinator for Associated Colleges of the Midwest. She teaches seminars on systematic racism, criminal justice, and social problems. As an artist and quilter, she has created a large-scale quilting project representing juveniles serving life without parole. Burge works with Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and has worked with public housing residents in Bronzeville.
Mary Patten is a visual artist, video-maker, writer, educator, occasional curator, and a long-time community and political activist. In her studio work, collaborative projects, writing, and teaching, she addresses collisions and alignments between “politics” and art making. Public, collaborative projects have included murals, billboards, and large-scale, interdisciplinary curatorial efforts. She continues to be drawn to collective forms of cultural production to reclaim language, feeling, and political passions from fundamentalist thinking, and to reclaim a utopia of the everyday.
Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy Program leads formal creative writing and poetry workshops inside the jail school, engaging students in the study of contemporary poetry and literature that is relevant to their life experience. Through increased literacy, written self-expression, exposure to and study of the performing, visual, and literary arts, they work with students to find meaningful pathways to self-expression and to further education.
The Artists in Dialogue and A Tea Performance
Artists Aaron Hughes and Michael Rakowitz discussed their work together and apart in the midst of the Iraq War, its aftermath and continuations. Discussion was followed by a participatory performance by Hughes.
When someone sits, sips, and reflects over a cup of tea, there is space to ask questions about one’s relationship to the world: a world that is
filled with dehumanization, war, and destruction; a world that is filled with moments of beauty, love, and humanity. Hughes’s Tea Project is an
ongoing dialogue that traverses a variety of these landscapes, from the tea sipped in a quaint coffee shop, to a cage in Guantanamo Bay, to a
motor pool in Iraq; tea is not only a favored drink but a shared moment that transcends cultural divides and systems of oppression. That is not
meant as a clichéd utopian statement, but as a reminder of a shared humanity that is so often overlooked.
Students from SAIC’s partner school presented key concepts and aesthetics of Japanese art and culture with reference to art practice characterized by approaches to nature. Lectures touched on fine art and aesthetics, traditional cultures of Noh and Kabuki, question of “Japanese-ness”, and use of “ambiguity,” self/others, inside/outside, life/death, and space/time in Japanese contemporary Art. Taking place in Pablo Helguera’s Addams-Dewey Gymnasium, this event allowed students of both SAIC and Tokyo University of Arts to exchange ideas and share their projects.
Lived Lives, started in 2006, emerged from a collaborative research process between an artist, a scientist, 104 Irish suicide bereaved families, and many others. Taking place in Pablo Helguera’s Addams-Dewey Gymnasium, this event was presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Wellness Center. With informed consent and active engagement of participating families, a series of site-specific interactive installations and public conversations were co-created, co-curated, and presented to the wider public. Through truthful collaboration and without judgment or censure, this work intended to move people towards an empathic position, creating an alternative space to understand, reflect upon, and challenge the silence and stigma around youth suicide.
Seamus McGuinness is an Irish artist, researcher and educator. He lives and works in Co. Clare, on the west coast of Ireland and lectures in Contemporary Textiles at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. His practice is deeply rooted in life and cloth, encompassing research, durational social intervention, interac-tive installations, public conversations, and collective democratic acts. In 2010 he was awarded a PhD for Lived Lives, which was conducted within the School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin.
As part of their Publishing Clearing House, Temporary Services collaborated with Project NIA to create a publication titled Chiraq & its Meaning(s), which includes visual and written submissions from youth and adults across Chicago. Its goal is to document how some Chicagoans are thinking and talking about violence and safety in the city at this historical moment.
Project NIA and Temporary Services hosted a release party for the publication in the Proximity of Consciousness exhibition on October 30, which included readings, poetry, audio and visual contributions, along with special performances by members of Kuumba Lynx and other collaborators.
The publication is available for purchase here.
A large group of community members including the SAIC-convened College Consortium for Art in Society, local government officials, and collaborative artist group Lucky Pierre gathered in the Residents’ Dining Hall of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Co-organized by SAIC’s Department of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies and the Hull-House Museum, the guests gathered around a “final meal” and conversation about prison reform.
To learn more about this event, read the full story here.
Photo: Ricardo Phillips (MA 2015)
Photo: Abel Berumen
Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija created several shared lunches as part of his project Untitled 2014 (recycle, lunch break) for students from various SAIC, UIC, and Columbia College classes. A collaboration between Tiravanija, Ken Dunn, and Dan Peterman, these group meal took on several manifestations, each evolving in a different mode based on Dunn’s resources and the artists’ combined ingenuity. Each meal was composed of food rerouted by Dunn’s Resource Center—a South Side nonprofit that collects surplus food from local establishments and urban farms to redistributes it to places like soup kitchens and community centers. Several of the meals also involved Tiravanija creating new recipes with Dunn’s rerouted ingredients, assisted in preparation by Peterman—finding a use for these food resources that often go to waste.
Artist Jim Duignan with Lavie Raven, artist and Prime Minister for Education at the University of Hip-Hop, worked with a group of students from the North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School’s debate team to engage topics presented in the Proximity of Consciousness exhibition. This group also worked with students from SAIC’s MAT/MAAE programs, enacting body movement exercises and collective activities in Pablo Helguera’s Addams-Dewey Gymnasium installation that explored the demonstration of democracy through lived experience.
This dialogue continues a season of critical thinking around social practice developed by SAIC to address this burgeoning and much-debated field. Claire Bishop is an art historian and critic based in the PhD program in Art History at CUNY Graduate Center, New York. Her books include Installation Art: A Critical History, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, and Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art?. Claire Doherty is founder and director of Situations, and renowned for pioneering new forms of public art in unexpected locations across the world.
For more information, visit the SAIC Visiting Artists Program page.
This event is free and open to the public, and presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program
Nearly 300 Northwestern undergraduates explored Chicago’s neighborhoods through the Center for Civic Engagement’s fall NU in Chicago event. Students on the Arts in Chicago trip were given a tour of A Proximity of Consciousness, led by co-curator Kate Zeller (NU WCAS ‘02). In its third year, NU in Chicago’s interactive excursions give students the opportunity to explore various Chicago neighborhoods and civic resources. While many students were familiar with the city’s most popular destinations before the event, the specialized themes allowed freshmen and upperclassmen alike to visit parts of Chicago that often go unexplored.
Coordinated by SAIC Admissions, this workshop focused on collaboration and the opportunity for art educators to work across disciplines and within their school neighborhoods. Discussion focused on ways to develop lesson plans that bring students’ work outside of the art classroom into the school and broader community. The 193 teachers in attendance from 120 different high schools in 7 different states had the opportunity to network, share and problem solve with SAIC faculty and high school educators, and engage with works on view in the Proximity of Consciousness exhibition.
Street-Level Youth Media hosted their 19th annual benefit night, “TuneIn TurnItUp” in the Proximity of Consciousness exhibition. The evening included performances by members of Street-Level.
Street Level Youth Media was established in the early 1990s by a group of artists, educators, and community activists interested in affecting change in their local Chicago West Town neighborhood. Artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, who is part of the Proximity exhibition, is among the founding artists of Street-Level. Today, Street-Level remains committed to educating Chicago urban youth in using media arts for self-expression, communication, and social change. Their teaching practice emphasizes artistic excellence and challenges youth to think critically about media and how it influences their lives. Through process-oriented, socially-conscious media art-making, youth learn to develop their creative ideas, articulate their unique point-of-view, and see how their art can positively engage and change the world.
Find out more about the event and SLV here.