This Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago symposium explores the relationships among contemporary practice, civic engagement, art, and the work of museums. This daylong discussion brings together artists, activists, curators, educators, and historians to examine contemporary issues relating to collaboration, social practice, community outreach, and civic engagement.

MCA Talk: William Pope.L (audio)

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Artist William Pope.L orchestrates an evening that is part performance and part discussion. With a panel of artists and professors, Pope.L explores the complex tradition of public debate while addressing questions about diversity, performance, and identity. The artist further complicates these issues by dressing each member of the panel in a different farm animal costume.

Guest speakers include artists Zachary Cahill and Wolfie E. Rawk; Lisa Yun Lee, director of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois; and Romi Crawford, associate professor of visual and critical studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Talk: Jaume Plensa (audio)

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Barcelona-based conceptual artist Jaume Plensa has produced a rich body of work over the past 30 years and is best known in Chicago for Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. Plensa discusses his practice and engages in a dialog with moderator Reed Kroloff, Director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Museum, about art and architecture.

The Architecture Is Art talks series examines the intersections and blurred boundaries between the professional practice and creative process of architects and contemporary artists. The series explores how architects and artists identify their work, where they turn for inspiration, how their process and presentation materials are interpreted, and when it’s useful or necessary to distinguish the disciplines of art and architecture for viewers.

In anticipation of Sarah Morris’s Chicago in the exhibition CITY SELF, the MCA hosts a preview screening followed by a conversation between Morris and Manilow Senior Curator Dieter Roelstraete.

Sarah Morris is an internationally recognized painter and filmmaker, known for her complex abstractions, which play with architecture and the psychology of urban environments. Morris views her paintings as parallel to her films—both trace urban, social, and bureaucratic topologies. In both these media, she explores the psychology of the contemporary city and its architecturally encoded politics. Morris assesses what today’s urban structures, bureaucracies, cities, and nations might conceal and surveys how a particular moment can be inscribed and embedded into its visual surfaces. Often, these non-narrative fictional analyses result in studies of conspiratorial power, structures of control, and the mapping of global socio-political networks.

Amanda Ross-Ho and Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator, discuss the new MCA plaza project, THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, including its inspirations, background, and construction.

Susan Miller, curator of Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes, engages Clowes in a conversation about his practice, his connections to Chicago, and the genesis of the exhibition.

Daniel Clowes, born in Chicago in 1961, is an internationally celebrated comic book artist and graphic novelist. To date, he has published nearly 50 comic books and graphic novels includingGhost WorldArt School ConfidentialLloyd LlewellynDavid BoringIce HavenThe Death-Ray,WilsonMister Wonderful, and in 1989, the groundbreaking comic book series Eightball. Clowes gained wide recognition in 2001 with the release of Ghost World, the Terry Zwigoff-directed, Academy Award-nominated film for which he wrote the screenplay. This was followed in 2006 by the release of the film Art School Confidential, based in part on his own schooling. Clowes is also a highly acclaimed magazine illustrator with work appearing in Time, Newsweek, GQ, and many other magazines. Beginning in 2007, Clowes became a regular cover artist for The New Yorker and created the twenty-episode series Mister Wonderful for the New York Times Magazine.

Susan Miller is an independent curator and producer with a career focus on regional art and culture. She has organized surveys and books on Bay Area artists including Daniel Clowes, Tony Labat, Jim Pomeroy, and Jeanne Finley. Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes is now touring the US with presentations at the Oakland Museum of California, MCA Chicago, and the Wexner Center, Ohio. From 1993 to 2005, she was the executive director of San Francisco’s New Langton Arts. She is currently organizing a touring exhibition and book on media artist Doug Hall as well as developing the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, a new research unit for UC Berkeley

Longtime family friends and Oak Park natives Tavi Gevinson and Jonah Ansell discuss their work on Cadaver, and the transformation of the story from short film to graphic novel. Heidi Reitmaier, Beatrice C. Mayer Director of Education, moderates the conversation.

The Curriculum Slam is a hallmark of our Educator Salon series each year. Salons tackle timely pedagogical issues, provide access to provocative speakers, and promote an open exchange among peers and colleagues. This year, Salons address the theme of Teaching as Creative Practice through a range of lenses. Presentations and dialogue explore questions that help further our understanding of contemporary pedagogy. The Slam is a forum for educators to showcase fresh, creative ways to bring contemporary art and ideas into the classroom.

Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. Beth Kligerman, Director of Talent & Talent Development at Second City, and Dylan Rice, Program Director of Creative Industries-Music at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, engage in a conversation about the mechanics of cultivating talent and building infrastructures that allow and encourage artists to remain in Chicago.

Talk: Jason Lazarus (audio)

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Jason Lazarus provides insights into his practice and the BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works exhibition, followed by a tour and conversation in the galleries. Since receiving his MFA in Photography (2003), Jason has actively exhibited around the country and abroad while curating, writing, and teaching photography part-time at Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Selected exhibition highlights include Black Is, Black Aint at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Image Search at PPOW Gallery in NYC, On the Scene at the Art Institute of Chicago, and solo exhibitions at Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Kaune-Sudendorf in Cologne, Germany, and D3 Projects in Los Angeles. Notable honors include an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship award, 2009; the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award, Emerging Artist, 2008; and the Emerging Artist Artadia Grant in 2006. Jason’s work can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, the MCA Chicago, and the Bank of America LaSalle Photography collection among many others.