The MCA Chicago’s exhibition Amalia Pica was the artist’s first major solo museum show in the United States. Pica uses simple materials—such as photocopies, lightbulbs, drinking glasses, beer bottles, bunting, cardboard, and other found materials—to create work that explores metaphor, communication, and language. She is particularly interested in the role of the artist in conveying messages to audiences and the translation of thought to action, and idea to object. The video features Pica’s commentary as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the artist installing her work.
In close collaboration with the MCA Store, the Design, Publishing, and New Media Department created a new design concept for their online store site and e-commerce interface. The new design features an improved site structure, reconsidered navigation, and clearer visual hierarchy for a more intuitive interface.
The exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s provided an overview of the artistic production of a decade of cultural and political transformation. Presenting canonical as well as nearly forgotten works produced between 1979 and 1992, the exhibition touched on major developments of the period, including the rise of the commercial art market, the politicization of the AIDS crisis, the increased visibility of women and gay artists and artists of color, and the ascension of televised media.
The video features interviews with exhibition curator Helen Molesworth, and artists Donald Moffett, Dotty Attie, Gregg Bordowitz, Isaac Julien, Tony Tasset, Frida Kahlo of the Guerrilla Girls, and Allan McCollum. The video provided an engaging overview of the exhibition and was featured prominently on the title wall of the exhibition.
Coinciding with a small-scale organizational restructuring, the newly collected Design, Publishing, and New Media Department (DPNM) was eager to update the look of the website to a bolder, more contemporary look and feel. The technical team—comprising one web developer and a project and content manager—worked with the design team to address front-end concerns, while leaving the CMS largely intact. The “facelift” (pictured above) was launched in October 2011 and remains the design of the site while a new CMS is being built.
The Language of Less (Then and Now) was an exhibition inspired by the MCA Chicago’s rich holdings of Minimalist and post-Minimalist work from the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition was presented in two parts, one devoted to a reinstallation of the historical works (featuring artists including Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Richard Serra); and a second showcasing five contemporary artists (Leonor Antunes, Carol Bove, Jason Dodge, Gedi Sibony, and Oscar Tuazon) whose work refers to the stylistic language of their forebears, albeit with entirely new content and concerns.
The A/V interpretive materials for the exhibition (including a suite of videos and an audio tour) featured the contemporary artists speaking about their own work, and about a work or artist featured in the historical half of the exhibition. The resulting materials were presented onsite (video screens as well as on iPods for in-gallery use) and online (through the website and various social channels).
In 2011, the MCA Chicago engaged MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Mark Bradford, whose personal interest in working with teenagers served as a catalyst for a yearlong residency project, connecting several different Chicago communities—students at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and teenagers in Digital Youth Network’s YOUmedia Chicago program at the Harold Washington Library. With the help of staff at Lindblom, YOUmedia, and the MCA, Bradford spent the year mentoring the teens through the creative process of making conceptual art. The project culminated in an exhibition of the teen artists’ works, which coincided with Bradford’s own exhibition at the MCA in May 2011.
The purpose for the final video was to document Bradford and the teens’ process over the course of the year, and to elucidate the residency’s activities and outcomes. The final video was screened in the MCA’s theater as a part of Bradford’s exhibition opening reception. The audience, whose numbers exceeded the theater’s capacity, connected emotionally to the content, cheering and applauding enthusiastically throughout the piece.
Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, paired the work of Alexander Calder with the work of seven contemporary artists whose practices are bound to Calder’s legacy as modern sculptor. While a well-known, even beloved figure, Calder had not previously been considered an important point of reference for contemporary artists. This was the first exhibition to explore Calder’s significance for an emerging generation of sculptors, reconsidering his influence and his innovation through a presentation of his own work alongside the work of contemporary artists.
The installation of the exhibition divided Calder’s work from that of the contemporary artists into two separate galleries, so we were interested in providing online users a tool for seeing the artists and their works in closer proximity to one another. The design of site—dividing the page in half and sliding content back and forth—reflected the physical installation while allowing users to move fluidly from one side to the other.
In 2010, the MCA Chicago presented the major retrospective Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character. Nutt often finishes his paintings by working on the backs, rendering images—some of them trompe l’oeil—and scripting punning, purposefully misspelled phrases in his own unique calligraphy. These finished backs are not meant for display. Their primary purpose is to relay information to those handling the works, including individual owners as well as museum registrars, conservators, and preparators.
Through the use of QR codes included with the labels of selected works, museum visitors are able to access images of the backs of these works on their smartphones while in the exhibition.