September 6, 2019

(Chicago, IL, September 6, 2019) – The University of Chicago is pleased to announce that Jacqueline Stewart has been appointed Director of Arts + Public Life (APL), an initiative of UChicago Arts.

A life-long resident of the South Side, Jacqueline Najuma Stewart is a professor of cinema and media studies and the College, earning both her AM and PhD in English from the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images, and “orphan” media histories, including nontheatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. She is the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, and directs the South Side Home Movie Project at UChicago and Cinema 53, a free screening and discussion series at the Harper Theater in Hyde Park. From 2016 through 2019, she served as Director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. 

“I am proud and honored to become the Director of Arts + Public Life.  I am excited to work with APL's extraordinary team, and with the artists, youth, and South Side neighbors who are central to APL's mission,” said Stewart.  "I look forward to extending the inspiring welcome that APL's founding director Theaster Gates shared with me with to greater numbers of colleagues, students and visitors.  The Arts Block is a transformational space in Washington Park, where we will continue to work collectively and imaginatively toward achieving social equity through arts and culture.”

Jacqueline has worked closely with APL for many years including serving as Co-Chair of the Green Line Performing Arts Center Advisory Committee. Under her leadership, APL will continue to work in partnership with artists, community leaders, neighbors and colleagues across the University to advance the robust, collaborative, and evolving relationship between the University of Chicago and the civic, cultural, and artistic communities of the South Side.

“I am really excited about what Jacqueline’s depth of experience and connections with local artists, along with her deeply-rooted understanding and appreciation of South Side culture mean for Arts + Public Life and their community partners going forward,” said Eric Williams, founder and creative director of the Silver Room, a frequent University of Chicago and APL collaborator. “I’ve worked with her on several projects over the years – from bringing the South Side Home Movie Project to the Silver Room, to curating film festivals at Connect South Shore Arts Festival and Silver Room Block Party. She’s easy to work with, does not waste time, and has grasped how to deploy the University’s resources to bring creative vision to the public in an authentic and engaging manner.” 

Arts + Public Life’s diverse programs and initiatives encompass artist residencies, arts education, creative entrepreneurship, and artist-led programs and exhibitions. Jacqueline will also work in partnership with colleagues across the University to advance the ongoing development of the Arts Block including APL’s management of the Arts Incubator, Green Line Performing Arts Center and new Creative Business Incubator and Washington Park Welcome Center currently being developed in the historic Garfield CTA station.

“We are excited to welcome Jacqueline to this new role,” said David Levin, Senior Advisor to the Provost for arts. “Since its inception, APL has served as an extraordinarily important initiative. Thanks to the visionary work of Theaster Gates, APL has garnered attention across campus, throughout the community, around the city, as well as nationally and internationally. Of course, in a similar way, Jacqueline Stewart and her work have been generating an extraordinary amount of attention: her research has been decisive in enabling us to rethink social and institutional histories in innovative ways, clarifying the roles that film in particular, and art in general, have played and can play in defining the experiences of diverse communities. Her visionary work aligns perfectly with the visionary work of APL. And when visionaries work with visionaries, exciting and transformative things tend to happen.”