Through an examination of contemporary art works that are recognized as primarily conceptual, this salon proposes the radical notion that a teacher’s curricular and pedagogical practice(s) can also be their creative practice. Durational, performance, and socially-based artworks present a wider conceptual and even aesthetic language for a pedagogy/art hybrid practice. Jorge Lucero, Assistant Professor of Art Education at The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, leads this conversation.

Frank Vodvarka, Professor of Fine Arts at Loyola University Chicago, engages artists Adam Brooks and Geof Oppenheimer and designer Kelli Evans in a conversation about the associations and effects of color. Vodvarka begins with an overview of the science and psychology of color, then engages the other panelists about the similarities and differences in the function and uses of color in the fields of design and fine arts.

Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. Michael Williams and Richard Cahan, co-authors of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, have collaborated on seven other books, including Real Chicago, Richard Nickel’s Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City, Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America, Edgar Miller and the Handmade Home, and The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed Its River and the Land Beyond. They own CityFiles Press, a Chicago publishing company that focuses on art and photography books.

Gallery Talk: Goshka Macuga (audio)

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In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, Goshka Macuga: Exhibit, A, artist Macuga and Manilow Senior Curator Dieter Roelstraete give an in-gallery talk.

This exhibition is the first survey of work by Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga. Macuga’s work interweaves two strands that have helped define contemporary art in the last decade: artists’ increasing tendency toward historical and archival research and their growing interest in strategies of display and the dialogue between artistic and curatorial practice. Many of Macuga’s large-scale, research-intensive projects have been collaborative, with the resulting installations often incorporating the work of other artists. Initially, many of her projects tapped into overlooked traditions in art history, but in more recent years her work has taken a political turn, frequently featuring post-Soviet Poland or the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a backdrop. The exhibition features a selection of works that vary in size, content, and context, emphasizing the medium of collage, both two- and three-dimensional. This exhibition is organized by Dieter Roelstraete, Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Culture Catalysts: Paul Cowan (audio)

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Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. Paul Cowan was born in Kansas City and currently lives and works in Chicago. He received his BFA from Milwauke Institute of Art & Design and an MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago. Exhibitions include Clifton Benevento in New York, Shane Campbell in Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Young Art in Los Angeles, James Cohan in New York, Golden Age in Chicago, Michael Jon in Miami, and Green Gallery in Milwaukee. Cowan’s work is featured in the exhibition, BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Paul Cowan.

Artists and educators Rachel Harper, Avi Lessing, and Jason Lukasik approach the design of curriculum as a creative endeavor with direct parallels to contemporary art.  If curriculum is a design for ordering experience, how do contemporary curricularists approach this in a living classroom?  How do contemporary art forms help us reach beyond teaching with art and towards a deepened understanding of the art of our own teaching?  What happens when the theoretical ideal of the “art of teaching” comes into conflict with the constraints of real classroom life?

Culture Catalysts: John Edel (audio)

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Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. John Edel is the Founder and Executive Director of The Plant. After purchasing the building in July 2010, he immediately began deconstruction and renovation with a vision of intentional reuse, economic development, and truly sustainable food. John’s foray into building redevelopment was at the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As General Contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100 percent occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading-edge technology to make the building exceptionally energy efficient and pleasantly non-toxic. The renovation was assisted by a core group of volunteers and by bartering with suppliers, tenants and scrappers. In previous careers, John taught computer graphics, designed sets for broadcast television, art directed video games, and worked as a chef on private railroad cars. He has a lifelong dream of combining industrial preservation and plants in a productive, conservatory-like project.

What does research look like as a creative practice? Artists and educators Annie Heckman, Rebecca Keller, and Peter Stover explore how different types of questions, grounded in personal, historical, and curricular concerns, can fuel our creative research in teaching and making.

Culture Catalysts: J.C. Gabel (audio)

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Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. J.C. Gabel is the founding editor and publisher of STOP SMILING, the magazine for high-minded lowlifes, which published from 1995 to 2009. He is presently Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of literary organization The Chicagoan as well as Hat & Beard Press, a new book imprinted dedicated to nonfiction titles in the realm of art, architecture, design, film, music and pop culture. He is also an editor-at-large for Chronicle Books and Taschen Books and writes regularly for a variety of culture magazines, including Print, Bookforum, Playboy, The Oxford American, and Wallpaper.

Culture Catalysts: Heidi Norton (audio)

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Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton
Image courtesy of the artist

Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. Heidi Norton, BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works artist, received her BFA from University of Maryland and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is currently a professor of photography. Norton has had solo exhibitions in Chicago at Johalla Projects, Northeastern Illinois University, and Ebersmoore, and in San Francisco at Hungry Man Gallery. Her work was also included in the exhibition Snapshot at the Contemporary Art Museum in Baltimore, and in other group shows Mark Wolfe Contemporary in San Francisco, Monique Meloche Gallery and Andrew Rafacz Gallery, both in Chicago, and in New York at NADA Hudson, and the Knitting Factory. She is represented in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and in the Midwest Photographers Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago.