The School of the Art Institute of Chicago presents

A Proximity of Consciousness Opening Reception

Friday, September 19 6:00 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

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All photographs by Tony Favarula

Paul Durica, Pocket Guide to Hell's Haymarket Reenactment, 2011. Photo: Yoni Goldstein

A Proximity of Consciousness:
Art and Social Action

September 20–December 20
Reception: Friday, September 19, 6:00–9:00 p.m.

Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

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 DuignanPablo Helguera (BFA 1993), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (MFA 1985), Dan Peterman, Pocket Guide to HellJ. Morgan Puett (MFA 1984), Michael Rakowitz, Tamms Year Ten and Laurie Jo Reynolds (MFA 2000), Temporary Services, and Rirkrit Tiravanija (MFA 1986).

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Joseph Beuys's lecture at SAIC in 1974. Photo © 2012 Klaus Staeck and Gerhard Steidl

Joseph Beuys
Untitled (Sun State), 1974

Through January 25, 2015
The Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Wing, Gallery 294, 159 E. Monroe St.

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.


GI_Logo_vertical_green_sRGB     Federal Foreign Office (color)
Futurefarmers, Flatbread Society Mobile Bakeoven, 2013. Photo © Max McClure

In Dialogue: Claire Bishop and
Claire Doherty

Thursday, October 2, 6:00 p.m.
Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Dr.

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 HistoryArtificial 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

Photo: Jim Duignan

Exhibition as project space led by Jim Duignan and Lavie Raven

Tuesday, October 7
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

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.

Class Convenings with Rirkrit Tiravanija

Friday, October 10, 12:00 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor



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.



Series covers. Design: Corey Margulis

Chicago Social Practice History Series

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.

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City Farm, Chicago. Photo: Patricia Evans

A Lived Practice Symposium

November 6–8
The Art Institute of Chicago, Fullerton Hall, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

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This weekend intensive program seeks to probe the reciprocal relationship of art and life: one can make a life as an artist, but we can all lead a meaningful life of heightened consciousness and awareness. So what can we glean from art practice to cultivate our own life practice? This has been a driving question throughout time and has taken many forms across civilizations. How can we address this question today? What can we learn from artists who are changing our communities and social landscape though their innovative cultural output and through the ways that they live their lives.

The symposium is presented with the support of the Goethe-Institut Chicago, Federal Republic of Germany, Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, Salzburg Global Seminar, and SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program.

Max Gimblett, A Glimpse of the Ox, 2009. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery

Oxherding: A Buddhist Parable

October 3–November 8
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

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.

Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and Amnesty International's 1st Annual Participatory Memorial Action, 2014. Photo: Sarah Ross

Creative Resistance in a Prison Nation

Thursday, November 13, 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 11, 7:00 p.m.

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.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, November 13

7:00–9:00 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries
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.

Thursday, December 11

7:00–9:00 p.m.
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.

Past Events

Thursday, September 25

7:00–9:00 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries
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.

Thursday, October 9

7:00–9:00 p.m.
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.