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)


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)


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)


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.

Color Jam: Jessica Stockholder and Michael Darling in Conversation (audio)


Color Jam

Courtesy Chicago Loop Alliance.

A pioneer of multimedia installations, Jessica Stockholder creates complex installations, sculpture, and collages that incorporate the architecture in which they have been conceived, blanketing the floor, scaling walls and ceiling, and even spilling out of windows, through doors, and into the surrounding landscape. On the occasion of her recent public art commission and in conjunction with the MCA’s exhibition Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity, MCA James W. Alsdorf Curator Michael Darling joins Stockholder in a conversation about her practice.

Culture Catalysts: Judith Russi Kirshner (audio)


Judith Russi Kirshner

Judith Russi Kirshner. Photo by Roberta Dupuis-Devlin.

Get to know the work of a different Chicago-based thought leader each month. Meet the artists featured in our Chicago Works series and others who influence arts and culture in Chicago.

Judith Russi Kirshner has been Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1997 where she also served as Director of the School of Art and Design.  Kirshner previously served as Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago from l976 to l980, at The Terra Museum of American Art from l985 to l987 and in the Art History Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Critic and curator, Kirshner lectures frequently on contemporary art and is a member of the Cultural Affairs Advisory Board of the City of Chicago as well as an advisory board member of numerous national and Chicago cultural organizations.  She has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts since 1980.  At the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1978, Kirshner curated Matta-Clarke’s last public project, Circus, or the Caribbean Orange.  Recent lectures include Arte Povera Portraits at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Art of Criticism, Carla Lonzi at The Tate Museum in London and at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Christina Ramberg at the University of Richmond, and Gordon Matta Clark at the Royal Academy of Denmark.

Her most recent publications is an essay included in Wack! Art in the Feminist Revolution, 2007, on the Italian feminist artists Gina Pane, Carla Lonzi, Lea Vergine and Anne Marie Sauzeau Boetti.  A contributor to Art in America and  Artforum, Kirshner has also published and lectured on the work of Judy Ledgerwood, Tom Otterness, Dan Peterman, Gordon Matta-Clark, Cat Chow, Gary Simmons and Roni Horn.  

1980s Gallery Talk: Amy Mooney (audio)


Amy Mooney

Amy Mooney
Photo by Shawn Michelle Smith.

Each month, artists and scholars lead gallery conversations based on the major themes of This Will Have Been: Art Love and Politics in the 1980s. Mooney will discuss the artworks in “Democracy,” which explore the renewed interest on the part of artists with working in the street, the impact of the mass media, the increasing prominence of Central American artists and artists of color, and the commitment to the political that shaped the period.

Amy M. Mooney is an Associate Professor of Art History at Columbia College Chicago and the Critical Encounters Fellow for 2011-2012. This fellowship supports the development of civic engagement projects such as Potluck: Chicago connecting students with local and global partners who share a vision for social change. Her publications include a monograph on Chicago painter Archibald J. Motley, Jr., as well as articles such as “‘Empty Shells and Hollow Forms’: The High Politics of an African American Abstract Paradigm,” in Romare Bearden in the Modernist Tradition (2009). She is a recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. Currently, she is at work on her second book, Portraits of Noteworthy Character, a project that investigates how the portrait was utilized by social reformers to assimilate migrant and immigrant populations in the US from the 1890s through the 1950s. Her pedagogical interests include collaborations with the Chicago Teachers’ Center, DePaul Center for Urban Education, and the Terra Foundation for American Art to increase visual literacy in Chicago Public Schools.

Lorraine O’Grady Talk


Lorraine O’Grady

Lorraine O’Grady. Photo taken at the Artforum office in New York in 2009 by David Velasco.

Included in the exhibition, This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Lorraine O’Grady is an artist and critic whose installations, performances, and texts address issues of diaspora, hybridity, and black female subjectivity. The New York Times in 2006 called her “one of the most interesting American conceptual artists around.” In O’Grady’s work, the idea tends to come first, and then a medium is employed to best execute it. Although its intellectual content is rigorous and political, the work is generally marked by unapologetic beauty and elegance. O’Grady discusses her practice, with a particular focus on her work from the 1980s.

Sound Opinions hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot—two of the finest and best-recognized pop music writers in the nation—sit down with living legends from Chicago’s musical movements of the 1980s including Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Ministry) and ‘Godfather of House’ DJ Frankie Knuckles, to explore the music and politics of the decade. Presented in conjunction with the MCA exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s

Based in Chicago, Sound Opinions is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, who for over a decade were dedicated competitors at Chicago’s two daily newspapers—Jim at the Chicago Sun-Times and Greg at the Chicago Tribune. Today, Jim writes about music for and teaches criticism at Columbia College. Every week, Sound Opinions fires up smart and spirited discussions about a wide range of popular music, from indie rock to classic rock, hip hop to R&B, and every genre under the sun.

Presented by Chicago Public Media – WBEZ 91.5FM.