a series of small gestures

Inspired by the Smart Museum of Art’s exhibition Take Care, the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry invited University of Chicago students to submit proposals for short videos reflecting on the questions of how we care for ourselves and each other.

Through each of the ten weeks of Winter Quarter 2021, a student’s video reflecting on the theme of care will be “released” on the Smart Museum’s Instagram account. Over the course of the quarter, each of these ten “small gestures” of care will be accumulated here with information about the student and a short description of their project.

The Series

Week 1 | January 12, 2021

Cold Blooded Care
Tirtzah Harris, Undergraduate studying English, Class of 2021

Can my turtle love me back? It’s difficult to say—reptiles are not generally known for their love of cuddling or friendly pack behavior. Through sixteen years of ownership, I had built up a bond of trust—something in the mind of my watery friend that associated my face with a rain of dried shrimp. The process was slow and deliberate, as most turtle matters are. And yet, in the matter of two short months, I’ve broken that trust completely. He’s needed daily medicine to cure an infection, and while I am pleased to say he is getting better, he’s started hiding away from me.


a series of small gestures is an initiative of the Smart Museum of Art’s Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry. Student proposals were reviewed by a panel of jurors comprising the following Smart Museum staff: Nicole Bond, Lead Museum Educator who has created and led educational programs for a variety of audiences with many exhibitions at the Smart Museum, including Take CareJennifer Carty, Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, who co-curated the exhibition Take CareBerit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives, who co-curated the exhibition Take CareErik Peterson, Manager of Family Programs & Student Engagement, who works with University of Chicago students through many co-curricular programs including the Smart Museum’s Student Advisory Committee; Aaron Wilder, Academic Engagement Coordinator, who works with University of Chicago students through the various internship programs at the Smart Museum as well as through academic programs sponsored by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, such as a series of small gestures.

In addition to the jurors above, this project is heavily indebted to critical contributions made by: Aneesah Ettress, Curatorial & Academic Engagement Intern; Issa Lampe, Deputy Director for Academic & Curatorial Affairs and Director of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry; C.J. Lind, Associate Director of Communications; and Yue “Cherry” Ying, Academic Engagement Undergraduate Research Associate.

Image: Amanda Williams, Color(ed) Theory Series, each 2014–2016, printed 2017, Color photographs. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions and Ann E. Ziegler, 2018.9.1–7. Installation view in Take Care. Photo by Michael Tropea.