We are proud to launch a new MCA blog, MCA DNA. While our previous blogs have been focused on specific topics or projects, MCA DNA will be comprehensive and expansive, sparking conversations about art and culture today.
The blog’s title is borrowed from our ongoing, collection-based exhibition series, MCA DNA. Just as the strands of DNA intertwine to form the backbone of a living organism, so will the stories of our exhibitions, artworks, staff, and community combine here to provide a sense of the MCA as a complex organism, full of practices, activities, and programs with narratives that may surprise you. And just as DNA required research and testing to discover, we too will use the blog to explore different kinds of posts, media, and contributors—we see MCA DNA as an experimental, multimedia platform for many voices and subjects.
In upcoming posts, you’ll hear from archivists and artists, librarians and preparators, educators and security staff—writers from across the museum. We’ll gather great stories from the MCA’s past along with previews of future exhibitions and programs. As an audience-engaged and artist-activated platform, the blog will feature many voices and describe the diverse projects of our community’s artists.
We are especially proud that many artists who exhibit in our galleries become members of the MCA family—returning repeatedly to exhibit or to participate in MCA programs. Recently, Lilli Carré, whose collaborations with the museum date back to 2009, was featured in a 2014 BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works solo exhibition. She and her husband, Alexander Stewart, also led a popular Family Day animation workshop in April, and work from that event is featured in a post from one of our educators.
We’re eager to hear what you think, know what you want to think about, and even what you have to say yourselves. So please leave a comment below or Tweet us @mcachicago. Pitch us a story or contact our Blog manager Abraham Ritchie if you are interested in writing for us. We’ll do our best to track comments and respond to your requests in upcoming posts.
If you attended the MCA’s 2012 exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, you probably saw Gran Fury’s 12-foot-long poster Kissing Doesn’t Kill (1989). Countering misconceptions of HIV transmission, it depicts two same-sex couples (and one opposite-sex couple) kissing under the titular phrase.
Provocative for its time, the work debuted in Chicago in 1990 on 60 CTA buses and 25 “L” stations for one month. Some of the posters were defaced, and the Illinois State Legislature even considered banning their display entirely.
If you lived through the 1980s, and the decades before that, you know what a historic moment it was when same-sex marriage was legalized in Illinois on November 20, 2013. You understand that it signifies real progress: We as a society—though not yet as a nation—have moved from a time when Gran Fury’s work was notorious to a time when the MCA ran the exact same ad on CTA buses in 2012 and received positive and appreciative feedback through its social media channels. We’re seeing our friends and relatives who have long been devoted to each other finally recognized by the state and by the law. This is progress. This should be marked. And this should most certainly be celebrated.
When Governor Pat Quinn signed SB10 last fall, the only question for the MCA wasn’t whether to celebrate, but how to celebrate this momentous occasion. A group of staff members who are passionate about gay rights and marriage equality met to brainstorm ways the museum could mark this progress with the LGBTIQ community. The idea that appealed the most to us was the most ambitious: open the museum for an entire day of marriages—for free. When we approached Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn with this proposal, her response was an enthusiastic “Yes!”
On June 2, the MCA worked with Equality Illinois—along with other generous sponsors who are providing complimentary photography, decor, and other services—to host 15 couples who were more than ready to, as the Beyoncé song goes, “put a ring on it.”
The MCA hosts weddings all year long and its staff is delighted to be able to host weddings for all couples at last. Congratulations to all of the couples throughout Illinois—and the United States—who have worked toward equality and who are finally seeing their efforts realized.
*This post first appeared in MCA Chicago (Summer 2014).
Check out the Chicago Sun-Times‘ highlight of the event here.