December 5, 2012

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.”

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 early 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, developed in partnership with UChicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture and with support from the Office of Civic Engagement.

“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.”

About the 2012/13 Artists-in-Residence

LeRoy Bach (b. 1964, Chicago)

Chicago musician and composer LeRoy Bach has hosted musical gatherings, fostered musical collaborations, and led bands in Chicago for over twenty-five years. Currently, he leads the monthly gathering, Low Tide Dance.  He is also currently a member of the Black Monks of Mississippi, and maintains a variety of collaborations, with musician Marvin Tate, guitarist Bill MacKay, musician Tim Kinsella, and writer Avery R. Young, among others. 

Bach is a former resident at the Headlands Center for the Arts. He has scored live musical accompaniment for film documents presented by the Chicago Film Archives. He maintains a busy performance schedule throughout Chicago, in both solo and group settings. Bach has also worked with Wilco, 5ive Style, and Beth Orton, among others.

Cecil McDonald Jr. (b. 1965, Chicago)

Through photography, video, and text, Cecil McDonald, Jr. explores the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture. McDonald studied fashion, house music and dance club culture before receiving a MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor and a teaching artist at the Center for Community Arts Partnership at Columbia College Chicago. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection. He was awarded the: Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society, Lucerne, Switzerland, Residency and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award.

McDonald Jr.’s recent projects include Looking for Baldwin: A Stranger in the Village, and I Can’t Turnaround: Where do we go from Here?—a teaching artist residency using photography and text to explore questions and affects of intensive, intervention initiatives in underachieving Chicago Public Schools commonly referred to as School Turnaround. 

Tomeka Reid (b. 1977, Washington, DC

Tomeka Reid is a Chicago-based cellist, composer, and educator. As an educator, Reid has led string improvisation workshops in Italy and the US, and for seven years co-directed the string program at UChicago’s Laboratory School for students grade 5-12. Most recently she co-directed the 2012 Vancouver Jazz Festival’s High School Jazz Intensive.

As a composer, Reid has been commissioned by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians for the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and has had several opportunities to showcase her work abroad at festivals such as Umbria Jazz, An Insolent Noise, and Vignola Jazz. She has been nominated and awarded residencies for composition with the Ragdale Foundation and the 2nd Annual Make Jazz Fellowship hosted by the 18th Street Arts Organization. Reid was selected as a 2012 participant in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute held at the University of California Los Angeles. Reid is also an ABD doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign.

Cauleen Smith (b. 1967, Sacramento, CA)

Cauleen Smith produces multi-channel film and video installations that incorporate sculptural objects and text, drawing from her roots in structuralist filmmaking to afro-futurist narrative strategies. For the past year and a half, Smith has held consecutive residencies in Chicago at ThreeWalls, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the Experimental Sound Studio.

In 2012, Smith installed overlapping shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and ThreeWalls, and was named Outstanding Artist by the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. Smith currently teaches as a Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago while exploring the intersection of art, protest, commerce, and community on Chicago's South Side.

Smith received her B.A. form the School of Creative Arts at San Francisco State University and her MFA from UCLA’s School of Theater-Television-Film. Smith’s experimental, installation and narrative work has shown at The Kitchen, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, as well as film festivals in Milan, London, Paris, and Berlin.

Avery R. Young (b. 1974, Chicago)

Avery R. Young’s work blends phonetics, linguistics, hymns, jazz, and hip-hop to explore the politics and attributes of the African-American experience. Young’s work, which he calls “sunday mornin jook joint,” merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. 

A Cave Canem Fellow, Young has worked as a teaching artist, mentoring youth in creative writing and theatre. He has written curriculum for Columbia College Chicago, Young Leeds Authors, True Star magazine, and Chicago Public Schools’ Art Integration Department. Young’s essays on HIV awareness, misogyny and sexism in arts and media, educational reform, and workplace art integration have been published in AIMPrint, The Teaching Artist Journal and swaggerzine. Young’s written work also appears in such anthologies as Callallou, To Be Left With The Body, Warpland, Coon Bidness, Reverie Review, War Diaries, Make Magazine, The Spaces Between Us, and Fingernails Across The Chalkboard.

Young has performed in the Hip Hop Theatre Festival, Lollapalooza, and WordStock and is featured on the compilations New World Reveal-A-Solution, Audio Truism, Catfish Haven’s Devastator and New Skool Poetics. Young has appeared on BET, MTV, ABC, and WGN’s Morning News.

 

Arts and Public Life Artists-in-Residence 2012-13

LeRoy Bach, photo by Jason Smith

Cecil McDonald, photo courtesy of artist

Tomeka Reid, photo courtesy of artist

Cauleen Smith, photo courtesy of artist

Avery R. Young, photo by Jason Smith

Teaser Image: Cecil McDonald- "Harmonic Portico"