Sep 24–Dec 18, 2021
Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 is an expansive, multi-venue exhibition taking place across the city of Chicago that explores the extent to which certain resources—air, land, water, and even culture—can be held in common. Raising questions about inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access, the exhibition considers art’s vital role in society as a call to vigilance, a way to bear witness, and a potential act of resistance.
Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40: Wendy Ewald & Amalia Mesa-Bains, installation views at Weinberg/Newton Gallery, 2021; photography by Evan Jenkins
Organized by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in collaboration with more than two dozen exhibition, programmatic, and research partner organizations, Toward Common Cause features work by 29 visual artists who have been named MacArthur Fellows since the award program’s founding in 1981.
The installation at Weinberg/Newton Gallery features newly commissioned works by Amalia Mesa-Bains and Wendy Ewald. Mesa-Bains’ Dos Mundos reflects on the historical constitution of the Mexican-American community. Her own family settled in South Chicago in the early twentieth century; her Circle of Ancestors installation (1996) is currently on view at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Ewald presents two collaborative photographic projects: Daily Life and Dreams in the Pandemic: A Project with the Centro Romero Youth Program (2020–2021) and The Devil is Leaving His Cave: Photographs by Children from Chiapas (1991). The first is a newly commissioned work developed in partnership with 15 young people at Centro Romero, an immigrant service organization on the city’s Northwest side. The exhibition features the students’ own photographs and stories, made and recorded during their year working with the artist, alongside portraits taken by Ewald and the students. The Devil is Leaving His Cave is likewise a collaborative photographic endeavor, made with Mayan and Ladino children in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1991. Together these projects provide a glimpse into the historical and contemporary realities of life within the Latinx communities of Chicago and beyond.
Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 is organized by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with exhibition, programmatic, and research partners across Chicago. Toward Common Cause is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and curated by Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition Curator, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.
Sep 24, 1–5pm & Sept 25, 2–5pm
To celebrate the opening of Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, all are welcome to join us for an outdoor reception in our courtyard from 2-5pm on Saturday, September 25, weather permitting. No RSVP is required for the outdoor gathering, but an appointment is required to see the exhibition inside our gallery space. You can make a 30 minute appointment here on Tock.
All guests ages 12 and up must be vaccinated. Proper face coverings are required for all guests throughout their visit to the gallery, including the courtyard, regardless of vaccination status. The gallery will be limited to 10 guests per 30 minutes, and the courtyard has a maximum capacity of 30.
Oct 21, 6–8pm
A series of virtual artist talks by Amalia Mesa-Bains, as well as Sandra Cisneros, Maria Varela, and Guillermo Gómez Peña. The four artists are members of the MacArturos, a self-organized group founded in 1995 by Latino MacArthur Fellows committed to providing cultural and intellectual events in Latino regional communities. Presented in conjunction with Toward Common Cause, these conversations or platicas will engage in a variety of topics including the arts, community transformation, cultural performance, and political history.
Tune in to Lumpen.tv for the livestream, presented by Toward Common Cause media partner Public Media Institute. This event is co-presented by the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in collaboration with the MacArturos.
Wendy Ewald: Artist Talk
Nov 8, 6–7pm
Toward Common Cause artist Wendy Ewald is the keynote speaker of Photography Week 2021, which is organized by the Columbia College Photography Department. Ewald will discuss two of her collaborative photographic projects: Daily Life and Dreams in the Pandemic: A Project with the Centro Romero Youth Program (2020-2021) and The Devil is Leaving His Cave: Photographs by Children from Chiapas (1991).
The event will be live-streamed from Weinberg/Newton Gallery's exhibition space. Register here.