Smart Museum to Organize Multi-Site Exhibition Featuring Art by MacArthur Fellows

last edited on Thu. July 18 2019

University of Chicago art museum awarded $1 million MacArthur grant, appoints Abigail Winograd curator

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago will organize a collaborative, multi-site exhibition with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program in 2021. Entitled Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, the exhibition will feature new and recontextualized work by more than two dozen visual artists who have been named MacArthur Fellows since the program’s founding in 1981, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Mark Bradford, Rick Lowe, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Fazal Sheikh, and Shahzia Sikander. The Museum was awarded a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to produce the exhibition and has appointed Abigail Winograd as MacArthur Fellows Program Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition Curator to lead the project.

Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 uses the idea of “the commons” to explore the current socio-political moment, in which questions of inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access are constantly being challenged across a wide array of human endeavors. It will encompass a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice that engages with the natural world, the built environment, human society, and identity. The exhibition will be organized in collaboration with institutions across Chicago, including the galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and will take place in multiple neighborhoods throughout the city in summer and fall of 2021.

“This exhibition will extend a tradition of collaboration across neighborhoods and communities that is an essential part of Chicago’s cultural landscape, and the Smart is honored to have the opportunity to build on this dialogue as we continue to reflect on our own role and place on the South Side,” said Alison Gass, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. “I am thrilled to have Abby join us to lead this project and strengthen partnerships with numerous civic and cultural organizations across Chicago.”

A complete artist list will be announced later this year. Some early confirmed projects include Rick Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s Well. Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey is a companion to The Greenwood Art Project in Tulsa, OK, which engages citizens in a dialogue around the past, present, and future of a prosperous Black neighborhood that was destroyed during the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. In a similar manner, Black Wall Street Journey will offer a physical space on the South Side of Chicago to serve as a think tank and community hub to better understand how to create economically viable and vibrant African American neighborhoods in the 21st century. Manglano-Ovalle’s Well will be the latest in the series of the same name, situated in Chicago. The installation will become a site for sparking conversation about water as a common resource, climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental justice.

“The MacArthur Fellows Program supports exceptionally creative people in all fields imaginable,” said Marlies Carruth, MacArthur Fellows Program Director. “This exhibition will connect the work of Fellows in the visual arts to Chicago residents and visitors in diverse neighborhoods across the city. We hope it will cause people to think and reflect on contemporary issues, be inspired, and pursue their own creative interests.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships of $625,000 to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. More information is at Additional programming to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Program and the work of Fellows whose area of expertise lies in fields outside the visual arts will be announced at a later date.

“It is a rare privilege to be given the opportunity to work with artists of such stature and accomplishment. I share the MacArthur Foundation’s conviction that art can offer a unique perspective on matters of social urgency and offer speculative solutions in the process,” said project curator Abigail Winograd. “To honor Chicago’s tradition of socially-engaged artistic practice and its long history of the activation of art on the part of marginalized communities, the exhibition will branch out from its main venues to establish a presence and create a dialogue with neighborhoods and institutions across the city.”

Prior to her appointment at the Smart Museum, Winograd curated The Other Transatlantic: Kinetic and Op Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America for the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw (traveled to Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, and SESC Piñheros, São Paulo, 2017–2018) and Abstract Experiments: Latin American art on paper after 1950 (2017) for the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2016–2017, she was the Transhistorical Curatorial Fellow at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands, where she organized A Global Table: Still Life, Colonialism, and Contemporary Art (2017). She was the Research Associate for Kerry James Marshall: Mastry (2016) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where she also organized Unbound: Contemporary Art after Frida Kahlo (2014) and Zachary Cahill: Snow (2014) as the Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow. Winograd earned a Masters and PhD in art history at the University of Texas at Austin. She has additional degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Northwestern University.