Arts and Public Life initiative selects five artists-in-residence for 2012-13

The University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life initiative on Dec. 5 announced the selection of five Chicago-based artists for its 2012-13 artists-in-residence program. The artists are musician LeRoy Bach, photographer Cecil McDonald Jr., musician Tomeka Reid, filmmaker Cauleen Smith and writer avery r. young.  

A distinguished jury of academics, artists and arts professionals selected the artists from a pool of more than 150 applicants. While the program initially sought three residents, the jury increased the number to five because of the high level of interest from so many talented artists.

“The number and quality of applicants exceeded our expectations and underscored the need for more programs of this kind on the South Side of Chicago,” said Carol Adams, president and CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History and a member of the jury. “The 2012-13 Arts and Public Life artists-in-residence program will provide great opportunities for the artists to hone and showcase their crafts and will add to the cultural richness of the surrounding community.”


The selected artists’ lives and work reflect a diversity of experiences in the city of Chicago. For example, McDonald’s recent projects include “I Can’t Turnaround: Where do we go from Here?” which uses photography and text to explore questions about intervention initiatives in underachieving Chicago Public Schools.

During the 10-month residency, the artists will have access to UChicago’s world-class academic and research resources, as well as studio space, a woodshop, and program and exhibition space at the Washington Park Arts Incubator, which will open in February 2013 at the corner of 55th Street and Prairie Avenue. The residents can utilize the performance and practice spaces at the new Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. Each artist will receive an honorarium of $10,000 and a stipend for materials.

The artists-in-residence program is an initiative of Arts and Public Life, in partnership with UChicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics abd Culture, and with support from the Office of Civic Engagement. In June 2012, Arts and Public Life was awarded a $400,000 ArtPlace grant to help fund programming for the incubator.

“The jury selected artists that all have a common interest in direct engagement. The artists’ desire to collaborate with the campus and greater community during their residencies was attractive, particularly during the opening year of the Washington Park Arts Incubator,” said Theaster Gates, director of Arts and Public Life. “Some of the residents have collaborated on projects and performances in the past. We want to nurture these partnerships and provide support to further the artistic outcomes.”

Larry Norman, UChicago’s Deputy Provost for the Arts and a professor in Romance Languages & Literature, Theater & Performance Studies and the College, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the Arts and Public Life artists-in-residence to the University of Chicago. The residency program is a key component of Arts and Public Life’s vision to develop meaningful connections between our campus and the vibrant artistic community in our surrounding neighborhoods.”

“Supporting local artists is in line with the University’s broader commitment to help strengthen local communities,” added Derek Douglas, Vice President of Civic Engagement for UChicago. “Having these five artists creating, exhibiting and performing in Washington Park will bring new activity that will enhance the vitality of the overall area.”

The jury included Adams; Leslie Danzig, program curator of the University’s Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry; Travis Jackson, associate professor of Music and the Humanities; and Monika Szewczyk, program curator of Logan Center Exhibitions. Gates convened the jury.

In 2011, Arts and Public Life and CSRPC piloted an artists-in-residence program with three visual artists—Faheem MajeedCathy Alva Mooses and Eliza Myrie. The artists presented Local Metrics: Majeed, Mooses, Myrie, a culminating exhibition of their work during their residency, at the Logan Center Gallery this past summer.

“I am especially appreciative of the goal of creating conversation between Chicago neighborhoods and also supporting artists in developing their practice,” Mooses said of the Arts and Public Life residency program. “It creates a structure for having conversations with establishments and people in the neighborhood and also on campus.”