University, Smart Museum to host big rig, touring art installation

The University of Chicago and the Smart Museum of Art will co-host “America: Now and Here,” a national, touring art installation that promotes art as a means of spurring dialogue and creativity among artists, cultural leaders and citizens.

The mobile installation—a full-sized tractor-trailer, wrapped in the work of artist Barbara Kruger—will be parked on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in front of the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Viewing hours will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“America: Now and Here” arrived in Chicago on Friday, Nov. 4, and will continue to bring its message to different city locations through Sunday, Nov. 13, including the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

“America: Now and Here is the vision of artist Eric Fischl, who is laying the groundwork for a cross-country tour in 2012. Fischl is organizing the project to demonstrate the value of active involvement in the arts beyond traditional venues and to build a more civil society through that involvement.

As part of this work, Fischl will engage Chicago artists, cultural leaders and residents in a series of public and private programs titled “American Dialogues.” Joining those conversations will be UChicago scholars and artists Theaster Gates, Director of Arts and Public Life and founder of the Dorchester Projects, ReBuild Foundation; David Schalliol, a graduate student in Sociology and a photographer who documented the Bloomingdale Trail project in Chicago; and Rebecca Zorach, Associate Professor of Art History.

Stephanie Smith, Deputy Director and Chief Curator for the Smart Museum of Art, said “America: Now and Here” reflects the ambitions of both the University and the Smart Museum by drawing direct connections to the community and social issues.

“As the University of Chicago’s art museum, the Smart embraces projects that ask big questions about what art does and why it matters. We have a long history of working with artists and scholars who bring a strong social ethic to their work—like Dawoud Bey, Theaster Gates and Rebecca Zorach, all of whom are part of the Chicago presentation of “America Now and Here.” We’re thrilled to join colleagues on campus and across the city in hosting this ambitious project.”

An evening of film screenings from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, 28 N. Clark St., Suite 500, will feature a series of Tribeca Film Festival shorts followed by the screening of excerpts from the recently released Kartemquin Films documentary, The Interrupters.

A symposium, “The Home in/as Community,” will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Hyde Park Art Center on Sunday, Nov. 13. As part of his No Place Like Home exhibition, Chicago artist Bey will facilitate the symposium that also will feature UChicago sociologist Schalliol.

“Chicago’s dedication and commitment to the arts and culture and civic engagement is remarkable,” said Fischl. “I would love to see Chicago take a leadership role in 'America: Now and Here.'"

America: Now and Herein Chicago is supported in part by the Crown Family Philanthropies and individual contributions.