Terra Foundation Announces Art Design Chicago, Yearlong Initiative in 2018 Exploring the Enduring Impact of Chicago’s Art and Design Legacy

April 4th, 2017

Chicago, IL—The Terra Foundation for American Art today formally announced Art Design Chicago, a wide-ranging initiative to explore the breadth of Chicago’s role as a catalyst and incubator for innovations in art and design. Spearheaded and funded by the Terra Foundation, with significant support from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Art Design Chicago was developed in partnership with more than 40 cultural organizations to celebrate Chicago’s artists, designers, and creative producers. Focusing in particular on the period between the 1871 Great Chicago Fire and the turn of the 21st century, the initiative reveals little-known narratives of ingenuity and perseverance and provides new insights on Chicago’s enduring influence on fine and decorative arts, graphic and commercial design, product development, and film. Art Design Chicago will feature more than 25 exhibitions and hundreds of public programs, presented throughout 2018, as well as the creation of several scholarly publications and a four-part documentary. Together, these activities shine a light on Chicago’s art and design legacy, and its continued impact on contemporary practice.

“We are delighted to be working with so many brilliant organizations to bring Art Design Chicago to life, and to share with new and existing audiences the dynamic artistic history of Chicago. This city has long had a pioneering spirit, championing the avant-garde, and shaping modern art and design. Chicago continues to be uniquely positioned to translate artistic vision into the consumer goods that we live with everyday,” said Elizabeth Glassman, President and CEO of the Terra Foundation. “We could not think of a better moment to launch this initiative, when reconnecting with who and what comprises the American story is so essential and immediate.”

Partners for the initiative range widely in mission and scale, showcasing the tremendous variety of cultural organizations throughout Chicago. While the majority of Art Design Chicago activity will take place in and around Chicago, several of the exhibitions are expected to tour nationally and internationally, extending the experience and dialogues fostered by the initiative well beyond the city. Among these is Charles White: A Retrospective, co-organized by The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partnering organizations will bring their distinct expertise, perspectives, and approaches to a diversity of themes, highlighting in particular the individuals and groups that have defined Chicago’s rich cultural fabric. Some of the topics explored in Art Design Chicago include:

  • The role of immigrant communities, frequently overlooked in historical discussions of influence, in Chicago’s creative development;
  • How Chicagoans’ social and political activism served as a driving force in breakthroughs in art and design;
  • Chicago’s unique position as both an artistic and manufacturing center, which spurred the elevation of commercial design to an art form; and
  • The innumerable ways in which Chicago has shaped art and design movements throughout the U.S. and the world, and continues to impact contemporary innovation.

“Chicago is a dynamic city, rich in culture and history; what better way to tell our story than through art,” said Chicago First Lady Amy Rule, and co-chair of the Art Design Chicago Civic Committee. “Through Art Design Chicago, the City will continue growing its profile as a global capital for creativity while ensuring accessibility to art and design for all residents of Chicago.”

The Terra Foundation is committed to fostering engagement with American art among audiences across the globe, and to encouraging dialogue about art’s ability to speak to broader ideas of nationality, identity, and culture. Art Design Chicago offers an opportunity to examine the art and design movements that were born and nurtured in Chicago, and their relationships to other artistic developments throughout the world. To support the success of Art Design Chicago, Terra Foundation has invested over $6 million in providing grants and project support for partner organizations. To-date, Terra has given 41 grants to 30 organizations, with more to be announced. Grantees were selected by an application process, which includes external peer review. Additional funding for the initiative is provided by Presenting Partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The Chicago Community Trust and Leo Burnett are providing in-kind support.

“It is widely recognized that Chicago has, for more than a century, been a breeding ground for art and design of the highest caliber,” said Richard Driehaus, Chairman of Driehaus Capital Management LLC and President of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. “The city has long been and still is home to major art schools, art libraries, art museums, public art, galleries, and hundreds of artists. Yet, the story of so many of Chicago’s contributions has not been well researched, documented, or integrated into the larger national and global narratives. Through Art Design Chicago these unique stories will finally receive the attention they deserve. This initiative will no doubt be the catalyst for further and sustained research for decades to come.”

Kim Coventry, Executive Director of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, added “The Driehaus Foundation is pleased to be the Presenting Partner in this important initiative. It is especially rewarding to join forces with another Chicago-based foundation to bring this critical project to fruition.”

Exhibitions for Art Design Chicago will include single-artist surveys as well as exhibitions on specific groups, time periods, and geographies. These are complemented by a vast array of public programs that will provide contemporary audiences with opportunities to engage more directly with the ideas that informed these artists and their art. The initiative will also include the publication of new scholarship and the development of a four-part documentary by WTTW-TV (PBS). A selection of highlights from Art Design Chicago includes:

  • African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce, and the Politics of Race: an exhibition, with accompanying programming, organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events / Chicago Cultural Center that explores how African American designers in Chicago defined a role for themselves in the design professions by working across media and disciplines. Opening in September 2018.
  • Picture Fictions: Kenneth Josephson and Contemporary Photography: an exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago that examines the influence of Chicago-based artist Kenneth Josephson, who was an early and influential practitioner of conceptual photography. Opening in April 2018.
  • Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America: an exhibition that shares Chicago’s significant contributions to modern American design from the 1930s to the early 1950s, presented at the Chicago History Museum. Opening in October 2018.
  • Arte Diseño Xicágo: Mexican Inspiration from the World’s Columbian Exposition to the Civil Rights Era: an exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art that surveys the early involvement and influence of Mexican travelers and immigrants on art and design of the industrial Midwest city. Opening in March 2018.
  • Hairy Who?: the largest exhibition solely dedicated to the influential group of artists known as the Hairy Who, to be shown at the Art Institute of Chicago. The show will also emphasize Chicago’s contributions to American art history. Opening in September 2018.
  • Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow: an exhibition, accompanied by a catalogue, at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art that highlights the history and influence of outsider art in Chicago, and the reasons the city embraced this work and its practitioners. Opening June 2018.
  • Into the City: A History of Chicago Art: a multi-author book about Chicago art from 1871 – 2010, to be published by University of Chicago Press. Release date to be announced.
  • Show the World: 150 Years of Chicago Art and Design: a four-part documentary series exploring Chicago’s historical impact in art and design innovation, to be produced by and air on WTTW-TV (PBS.)  Air dates to be announced.
  • Fallfest 2018: a series of 5–7 public programs and a graduate-student convening on Chicago’s history of art and design, October–November 2018 as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.
  • Teen Printmaking Program at YOUmedia: a Chicago Public Library-sponsored initiative that includes a traveling printmaking workshop, accompanied by a youth-curated exhibition drawn from the Library’s impressive Special Collections. June–December 2018.

Additional projects, programs, publications, exhibitions, and events will be announced in the coming months. Programs and dates subject to change.

For more information, including a comprehensive list of Art Design Chicago partner organizations, as well as Civic Committee and Advisory Committee members, visit artdesignchicago.org.

About Terra Foundation for American Art:

Since it was established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art has been one of the leading foundations focused on the historical art of the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, it is committed to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of American art among national and international audiences. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation also provides opportunities for interaction and study through the presentation and ongoing development of its own art collection in Chicago.

About The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Through strategic philanthropic partnerships, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation seeks to improve Chicago’s built environment, support cultural stewardship in the arts, strengthen democracy through investigative journalism, and advance economic opportunity for the working poor. The Foundation believes that the arts play an essential role in the cultural life of Chicago. They provide entertainment, stimulate our imagination, challenge our perceptions, and encourage us to reflect upon our distinct traditions and our shared humanity.

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