We are celebrating the MacArthur Fellows Program’s commitment to recognizing extraordinarily creative individuals and highlighting the various ways recipients pursue their creative ideas, cultivate cross-disciplinary collaborations, and inspire us all with their field-changing endeavors.
As part of this milestone anniversary, 28 MacArthur Fellow artists will take part in Toward Common Cause, a multi-venue exhibition that uses idea of “the commons” to explore questions of inclusion and exclusion, ownership and public space. The exhibition will take place at 24 venues throughout Chicago.
Keep an eye out for each of these opportunities linked to below, and join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Fellows40.
March 2021—May 2022
Gómez-Peña’s Mex Files: Audio Art and Strange Poetry from the US/Mexico Border
Throughout his life, Guillermo Gómez-Peña has worked in audio art and radio across multiple genres, from poetic journalism to Spanglish spoken word, and from radical storytelling to collaborations with musicians, poets, and activists. This yearlong series of experimental audio performances will present samples of Gómez-Peña’s previous work (1980–2015) and newly recorded material created during the pandemic.
April 19, 2021
Gig Workers and Propositions: Policy and the Changing Nature of Work’s Interplay
Online only: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Cecilia Muñoz and Mary Gray join an online conversation that will explore the employee versus contractor debate, economic and opportunity impacts we might see at state and national levels, and the evolving policy questions brought on by the ever-changing nature of work.
April 26, 2021
Tending to the Body
Online only: 4:00 p.m. CT
May 21—August 28, 2021
Dawoud Bey (Toward Common Cause)
Select work from local collections, highlighting Dawoud Bey’s extensive work with communities in Chicago and his dedication to investigating the ways that identity is shaped, portrayed, and expressed in photographs.
May 28—September 18, 2021
Jeffrey Gibson (Toward Common Cause)
Jeffrey Gibson will produce a series of new print works that draws on Native and Indigenous documents and paintings in the Newberry Library’s collection, as well as archival materials from the Field Museum. Together, these images will present a stark contrast between the persistence of contemporary Native culture and the static depiction of Indigenous cultures perpetuated by institutional conventions.
June 3—August 29, 2021
An-My Lê and Shahzia Sikander (Toward Common Cause)
Probing monuments and identity, An-My Lê and Shahzia Sikander explore history’s embeddedness in our present. Lê’s Silent General (2015 - ongoing) presents large-scale views of places and people in the contemporary American landscape, while Sikander uses sculpture, drawings, and animation to examine representations of intersectional femininity prompted by questions of who monuments historically depict.
Toward Common Cause
Black Wall Street Journey (BWSJ) will offer a physical space on the South Side of Chicago to serve as a think tank and community hub to better understand how to create economically viable and vibrant African American neighborhoods in the 21st century. BWSJ seeks to better understand the economic and social health of Chicago neighborhoods from the inside out and to project that information publicly, in sculptural form.
Related Fellow: Rick Lowe
Summer 2021—Summer 2022
Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Toward Common Cause)
Collage-paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby will be scaled and reproduced in a series of mural-banners on a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) high rise and the façade of the National Public Housing Museum. Akunyili Crosby worked with young people from the Smart Museum-CHA Teen Program. The young people designed collaborative curatorial and engagement strategies for the project. Six participants are taking part in an expanded, yearlong program to realize these plans in partnership with Akunyili Crosby, CHA residents and administrators, and Smart Museum staff.
Mel Chin and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle (Toward Common Cause)
Permanent installations by Mel Chin and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle will become features of the Sweet Water Foundation campus. An exhibition featuring Well 41° 47'25"N - 87°37'38"W is currently at Sweet Water. Chin’s Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL will have its physical headquarters in the Civic Arts Church.
Kara Walker (Toward Common Cause)
A signature black silhouette installation from Kara Walker, presented in partnership with one the country’s oldest institutions dedicated to African American history and culture. Presenting Negro Scenes Drawn Upon My Passage through the South and Reconfigured for the Benefit of Enlightened Audiences Wherever Such May Be Found, By Myself, Missus K.E.B Walker, Colored was commissioned by the Renaissance Society in 1997 and is currently in the collection the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Whitfield Lovell (Toward Common Cause)
Whitfield Lovell’s poetic and intricately crafted tableaux and installations document and pay tribute to the daily lives of anonymous African Americans. A suite of six works from Lovell’s new Spell Suite and the radio installation After an Afternoon (2008) will be featured.
July 15—December 19, 2021
Toward Common Cause
This group show constitutes an artistic reflection on how we see others, how we see ourselves, and how these views are inflected by race—questions that currently preoccupy the art world.
Related Fellows: Dawoud Bey, Nicole Eisenman, David Hammons, Gary Hill, Whitfield Lovell, Kerry James Marshall, Trevor Paglen, Carrie Mae Weems, and Fred Wilson
July 15—October 24, 2021
Carrie Mae Weems (Toward Common Cause)
A complex installation by Carrie Mae Weems explores the spectacle of violence in our contemporary lives, relocating this present within sustained histories of conflict and uprising. The multi-part installation, Heave, combines photography, video, news media sampling, as well as ephemera to probe the devastating effects of violence in our life and time.
July 15—December 19, 2021
Toward Common Cause
This group show surveys the impacts of environmental racism and segregation on rural and urban geographies. The works question the purported neutrality of landscape in the history of art as well as call for a reckoning with the ways in which race and class impact the layout of our cities. New work by Mark Bradford, Toba Khedoori, and Fazal Sheikh.
Related Fellows: Mark Bradford, Mel Chin, Nicole Eisenman, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Alfredo Jaar, Toba Khedoori, Rick Lowe, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Julie Mehretu, Fazal Sheikh, and Xu Bing
July 25—October 24, 2021
Mel Chin, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Fazal Sheikh (Toward Common Cause)
Hyde Park Art Center will feature the work of artists focused on issues of environmental racism and the disproportionate impact of post-industrial pollution on communities of color. This display will include a drawing space for Mel Chin’s Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL; Fazal Sheikh’s Conflict Shoreline and Desert Bloom series, which focus on the climate change and environmental racism as forms of neocolonialism; and the film from LaToya Ruby Frazier’s Flint is Family.
September 17—December 18, 2021
Amalia Mesa Bainsand Wendy Ewald (Toward Common Cause)
Wendy Ewald and Amalia Mesa-Bains will contribute complementary projects that focus on Latinx migration in Chicago. Mesa-Bains takes an historical and personal look at migration to the city through the lens of her own family, while Ewald will collaborate with middle and high school students, encouraging them to use cameras to reflect and record their stories of immigration to Chicago via Mexico.
September 24—December 13, 2021
Amalia Mesa Bains (Toward Common Cause)
Amalia Mesa-Bains’s Circle of Chairs will be remade to investigate the social history of the larger Mexican community in the history and building of Chicago with the last wave beginning in the mid-1900s. Circle of Chairs will include an installation of chairs as small altars that celebrate this history using images and stories collected by Mesa-Bains. Presented as two installations in separate locations—the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, a current locus of the Mexican community, and Weinberg/Newton Gallery in River West.
September 21, 2021—May 31, 2022
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (Toward Common Cause)
A selection of Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s works to be determined. The exhibition will focus on the history of museums and display. Installation will coincide with UIC academic year.
Kerry James Marshall (Toward Common Cause)
Kerry James Marshall will produce a site-specific installation for BBF Family Services. BBF offers a safe haven to the youth and families of North Lawndale. Installation to coincide with CPS academic year.
October 14, 2021—January 28, 2022
Ida Applebroog and Rick Lowe (Toward Common Cause)
Living in Southern California in 1969, Ida Applebroog sought refuge from her life as a single mother in her bathtub, where she spent between two and three hours an evening drawing pictures of her body. This ritual eventually resulted in 160 portraits of Applebroog’s vagina. Packed away in 1974, and rediscovered in 2009, the drawings are installed as wallpaper on a wooden structure resembling a house, titled Monalisa (2009). Applebroog’s work will be accompanied by a stock ticker for Rick Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey (BWSJ) and potentially other installation features that connect to the physical site of BWSJ.
Dates to be Determined
Alfredo Jaar (Toward Common Cause)
For more than thirty years, Alfredo Jaar has created multimedia works to examine complex socio-political issues and the limits and ethics of representation. Jaar often questions the concept of the geographical border and suggests that such boundaries are simply arbitrary divisions that serve to reinforce established systems of power and exploitation. The MCA is organizing a presentation drawn from its extensive collection of work by Jaar, organized by current Susman Curatorial Fellow.
Alfredo Jaar (Toward Common Cause)
One of Alfredo Jaar’s better-known works, This Is Not America (A Logo for America) (1987/2014/2016), will be presented at SAIC’s new galleries in the Loop. Visible from the street, the project features a sequence or projections which were originally displayed on a light board in Times Square, New York. While this project was first realized in 1987, in recent years it has been recreated in New York (2014) and London (2016).