The Belonging Collective

2016–2017 Interpreters in Residence

The Smart Museum's 2016–2017 Interpreters in Residence are a newly formed collective made up of individuals and community partners who collaborated with us on the project In Anticipation of Belonging

For six weeks during summer 2016 the Smart worked with four cultural and community partners (listed below) to think together about the conditions that enable belonging or that deny inclusion. We transformed the Museum’s  central gallery into a residency site, a workshop, a seminar classroom–a flexible space designed to accommodate the partners' different forms of inquiry and activity.

While these projects only temporarily filled the walls of the Museum, the four partners continue their public investigations into belonging throughout the year through individual and collective projects.

Public Programs

Making a Place of Purpose, A Collection of Small Actions
Saturday, May 20, noon–6pm
Organized by the Belonging Collective, this daylong event will feature a variety of small, intimate actions including interactive meals, artist-orchestrated experiences, micro-tours, performative readings, musical performances, shared reflections, and more.

Members and PROJECTS

Arts + Public Life Teen Arts Council

Founded by Marya Spont-Lemus, the Teen Arts Council is a group of student leaders who collaborate with Arts + Public Life to develop creative skills, leadership experience, and opportunities for their peers to engage with the arts. The Council members work with university staff and local partners to develop projects at the intersection of arts administration and community engagement. Led by Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago, the program cultivates teens’ creativity, social development, and leadership, while inspiring them to make a positive difference in their community through the arts. Teens work alongside professionals to develop original work using real-world processes.

The Smart has hired two Teen Arts Council members who participated in In Anticipation of Belonging as paid Dopecents who are creating and leading tours for their peers as well as facilitating other Smart programs. The Dopecents will lead multi-site field trips between the Smart and the Arts Incubator during March and April 2017.

Sojourner Scholars

A core program of Illinois Humanities, the Sojourner Scholars Program, a Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, provides college-level instruction in the humanities through seminars led by professors from local colleges and universities for high school students from South Side neighborhood schools. The program offers a course for rising sophomores that is organized around the theme of Citizenship; students enrolled in the Year 1 seminar will study the topic through an examination of both historical, literary, and arts-based sources. 

The capstone program, for rising seniors, is the culmination of a two-year program of coursework. This three-week course—taught by Professor Rebecca Zorach (Northwestern University)—will allow rising seniors to embark upon a collective research project that relates to the documenting and study of cultural resources on the South Side of Chicago.

The Smart has engaged a group of seven Sojourner Scholars to conduct deep research on works from the Smart’s collection. In addition the students are working with program administrators and Museum staff to design several large-scale programs that introduce the Smart to their peers.

Red Line Service

As co-founders of Red Line Service (RLS), Rhoda Rosen and Billy McGuinness create cultural experiences for and with Chicagoans concerned about and/or currently experiencing homelessness. In partnership with direct service and advocacy organizations, RLS strives to open and expand critical dialogues about poverty, social responsibility, and culture, while simultaneously generating change for all participants and transforming the cultural institutions that house its programs. Rhoda Rosen is an art historian and curator and currently serves as adjunct associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Billy McGuinness is a practicing artist and lecturer at SAIC.

Red Line Service initiated their Interpreter in Residence work by partnering with Museum staff to organize a potluck brunch for adults experiencing homelessness and Smart staff that included a tour of the Smart’s fall exhibition, There was a whole collection made, literature readings, and a performance of Electra at Court Theatre. Two members of Red Line Service are now working with a Smart Museum docent to orchestrate a series of regularly scheduled “pop-up” installations in the Museum’s lobby, to share and record stories inspired by Conversations with the Collection: Belonging, and our differing understanding of the meaning of home. 

Stockyard Institute

Jim Duignan started the Stockyard Institute in 1995 as an artist project and a small community institute in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of south Chicago. From the start, the Stockyard Institute was a community center working to collectively design and organize visual and pedagogical projects alongside youth, artists, teachers, community members, and the public, which speculate on art, education, aesthetics, and the city. The Stockyard Institute was influenced by an awareness of neighborhood histories and an under recognized group of community artists, architects, radical teachers, and local activists where a deep consideration of the social and civic forms of engagement were as critical to their practice as to their lives. Jim Duignan is a Chicago artist and professor of visual art in the College of Education at DePaul University.

Stockyard Institute has created two mobile radio stations inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Boite-en-valise (currently on view in Conversations with the Collection: Belonging) for use in interpretive and educational programming.

About the Interpreter in Residence program

Established in 2013, the Interpreter in Residence is a yearlong program designed as a forum for Chicago-based artists and educators with an interest in social engagement to create participatory art experiences with Smart Museum guests.

The residency, organized by the Smart’s Public Practice department, is informed by art and ideas drawn from the Smart’s collections and exhibitions as well as issues and questions that are critical to the Museum’s institutional practice. The Smart invites artists to participate in the program who approach similar sets of questions in their work. We hope that their engagement at the Museum offers an opportunity for sustained investigation into these questions that benefit both their and our practice.

Through public programs and other ephemeral activities, the interpreters in residence help create a critical commons where we can engage with art, ideas, and one another.