Creativity in the Arts

University Breaks Ground on Logan Arts Center

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, slated to open in spring 2012, will act as a “mixing bowl of the arts” and a beacon for artists around the world. Made possible by a $35 million gift from alumni David and Reva Logan and their family, the center will be a living bridge between arts theory and practice, using innovative design to foster artistic experimentation and multidisciplinary inquiry. The May 12 groundbreaking was punctuated by multidisciplinary arts events and performances at the construction site and across campus.
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Earlier in the year, husband and wife architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien unveiled their design for the Logan Arts Center. “The vibrancy of the students and teachers is already here. We want to give them beautiful light and air and spaces that will be used and loved and changed for 150 years,” said Williams. The striking plans create 180,000 square feet of space designed to facilitate chance encounters and interactions. For example, studios for painting and sculpture will be next door to spaces for theater set design and construction, opening new opportunities for collaboration and insight. In the building’s 184-foot tower, classroom space will adjoin music practice rooms and performance studios, with a large “performance penthouse” at the top level.
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The Logan Arts Center will provide a home for the University’s flourishing scholarship in the arts. “The kinds of production done here, be it written, performed, filmed, painted, et cetera, are understood as research, argument, catalyst, knowledge, and provocation,” said Laura Letinsky, Associate Professor in Visual Arts. Letinsky sees the new center as a chance for more powerful, multidisciplinary discourse. Just being in “simple physical proximity with my fellow faculty will enable an organic cross-fertilization” that would be difficult if faculty were dispersed among many buildings.
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View videos of the Logan Arts Center groundbreaking events »

Two Key Appointments Will Further Arts on Campus

William Michel became the first executive director of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, helping to create and lead a dynamic hub for visual arts, theater and performance, music, cinema and media studies, and creative writing. The center is slated to open in spring 2012. Michel was formerly assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of the College. Theaster Gates has taken the position of director of arts program development; he continues as artist in residence and lecturer in Visual Arts while taking on this expanded role in the Office of the Provost, where he was previously coordinator of arts programming. In his new role, he nurtures strategic collaborations among arts groups throughout campus, builds connections between arts groups and other disciplines and organizations, and leads efforts to engage the community and the city.
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University Celebrates ‘60 Days of UChicago Art’

The groundbreaking for the Logan Arts Center was at the center of a 60-day celebration of the arts at the University of Chicago. The celebration highlighted the vast breadth of the University’s arts programs—which include literary arts, visual arts, music, theater, and other performing arts—with programming for the University community and the general public to enjoy. Kicking off the 60-day celebration was a conversation between Tony Award– and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Tony Kushner and Court Theatre artistic director Charles Newell. Other highlights included a reading by Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Kestnbaum Writer-in-Residence Jhumpa Lahiri, an Artspeaks talk by artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and a presentation by award-winning journalist James Fallows, the Robert Vare Nonfiction Writer-in-Residence.
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Arts Pass Enhances Student Access to City’s Arts, Culture

The University kicked off its new UChicago Arts Pass program, which allows students access to many of Chicago’s cultural venues for free or at a reduced cost, with a free gala evening at the Museum of Contemporary Art. More than 400 students attended the event, which featured performances by UChicago student arts groups. The UChicago Arts Pass program encourages students to engage in the artistic life of the city at large, as well as the rich cultural opportunities on campus. With the UChicago Arts Pass, the only ticket a student needs to visit the Art Institute of Chicago or the MCA, for instance, is his or her UChicago identification card. On campus, student memberships in the Smart Museum of Art, the Oriental Institute Museum, and the Renaissance Society are free. Students also receive reduced or free rates at the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Court Theatre, and the University of Chicago Presents, among many other venues.
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Art Scholar Sparks Conversation between China and Chicago

Bringing Chinese art to Chicago’s Loop, UChicago’s Wu Hung co-curated Millennium Park’s exhibition, A Conversation with Chicago: Contemporary Sculptures from China. A Beijing native who has deep roots in the city’s artistic avant-garde, Wu, the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History, has known many of his country’s most important artists for decades. He visited them in China and was crucial in bringing four monumental pieces by the country’s most famous sculptors to Chicago.
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Grammy Winner Performs at Rockefeller

Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson performed at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in a concert organized by the IFA Yoruba Contemporary Art Foundation in conjunction with the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. The foundation’s board president Oyekunle Oyegbemi said, “I kind of had my eye on Rockefeller because it’s an icon, a sacred space. It has a tradition of having very significant people in there, and it has a certain type of mystique around it.” According to Oyegbemi, the South Side’s penchant for African culture and Chicago’s role in Wilson’s success fit well with the University’s affinity for the arts. HyPa (Hyde Park Alliance for Arts and Culture) and the University’s Office of Civic Engagement are key partners in presenting the Hyde Park Jazz Festival.
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University Economist Studies Creativity

David Galenson’s new book, Conceptual Revolutions in 20th-Century Art, explores “why 20th-century art is completely different from all earlier art.” Economists have praised Galenson’s work on art for providing fresh insights into the nature of creativity. The economic historian has written four books and more than 50 articles and working papers about art. Galenson’s research is also the basis of a new University course, Creativity. In August, he taught a version of the class at the Universidad de CEMA in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he helped launch the Center for Creativity Economics, for which he is the first academic director.
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Folk Festival Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The University of Chicago Folk Festival celebrated 50 years of authentic musical performances that stress substance over fad. “There’s something so real about this music; it’s from the lives of these folks, what they play on their porch,” said Laura Gloger, who’s been a volunteer for the student-run Folklore Society since the late 1960s. Since its inception, the festival has celebrated blues, Cajun, old-time, klezmer, Irish, gospel, and other deeply rooted music traditions in its many performances.
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Big Love Is UT’s Largest Professionally Directed Show

University Theater’s third professionally directed show, Charles Mee’s Big Love, was its biggest and most ambitious to date. Director and lecturer in the College Sean Graney brought on 16 student design and technical assistants to help with all aspects of the production. Working alongside professional designers of sound, lighting, and costume, UT’s biggest mentored assistant team thus far earned professional skills while putting on a hit production.
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Restored Rockefeller Carillon Earns Raves

The result of a three-year, multi-million-dollar restoration of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon was met with rave reviews. At the first Carillonathon summer concert series since the work was completed, performers from around the globe lauded the improved sound quality of the instrument. “People are hearing the trebles more than they could before. They’re hearing more resonance because of the improved bell arrangement and more efficient sound generation because of the improved mechanics of the instrument itself,” said Jim Fackenthal, the assistant University carillonneur. “This has been a milestone.”
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Prominent Black Authors Share Prose, Poems at I-House

Two renowned literary figures spoke at UChicago’s International House for its Black History Month Global Voices Author Night Lecture. Angela Jackson read from her first novel, Where I Must Go, an autobiographical work about growing up in 1960s Chicago. Sharing the stage was Haki R. Madhubuti, a well-known poet, author, social activist, and educator. He read from his book of poems on emerging black culture, Liberation Narrative
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Award-Winning Composer Presents Ryerson Lecture

Shulamit Ran was chosen by her faculty colleagues to present the annual Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture, based on the lasting significance of her work. Ran, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in Music, began composing by age seven and joined the University faculty in 1973. Named “among America’s most widely recognized creators” by the New York Times, she has received numerous honors for her work, including two Guggenheim fellowships and a 1991 Pulitzer Prize for her Symphony. From 1990 to 1997, she was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence. She is currently artistic director of the University’s new music collective, Contempo. Read more »

Prize for Emerging Artists Comes to UChicago

UChicago introduced the Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists this year. Leigh-Ann Pahapill, MFA’07, received the $30,000 award. The Edes Foundation aims to jump-start the careers of promising artists by providing sufficient support to allow them to devote a full year to their arts practice. “The response to this initiative has been extraordinary,” said Nik B. Edes, president of the foundation.
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Library Shares Jazz Archives in Passport to Jazz Series

The University Library made its extensive jazz collection available to the public during the inaugural Passport to Jazz (PTJ) series, which spotlights the South Side’s reputation as the place for jazz in Chicago. The Special Collections Research Center’s Jazz Archives is one of four major archives in the country. During one PTJ workshop, Exploring Jazz Musicians and Clubs at Chicago’s Libraries, participants explored the archives and handled relics from the past like vaudeville-style advertisements, old jazz club ticket stubs, and pictures of the greats playing at venues just blocks from their homes. HyPa (Hyde Park Alliance for Arts and Culture) and the University’s Office of Civic Engagement are key partners in presenting Passport to Jazz.
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Influential Curator Wins Contemporary Art Award

Hamza Walker, AB’88, director of education and associate curator for the Renaissance Society, received one of the art world’s most prominent awards, the Ordway Prize. Selected from a global pool of contenders by a jury of leading art figures, Walker was honored for his “significant impact on the field of contemporary art.” Each winner receives an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000 presented by Creative Link for the Arts and the New Museum.
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