The Petty Biennial

Curated by La Keisha Leek and Sadie Woods, Arts + Public Life's Inaugural Curatorial Collective

May 19 - June 23, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, May 19,  6–8pm
Closing Reception: Friday, June 16,  6–9pm

The Petty Biennial is an exhibition project that complicates dominant narratives of contemporary cultural, social, and political norms. It is a response to classist views towards communities of color and marginalized art practices. At the intersection of race, gender and sexuality, featured artists showcase a range of regional and national perspectives unique to North and Central Americas, and the Caribbean. The Petty Biennial is not a biennial itself, but a curatorial investigation towards queering the canon of traditional biennials. The project selected seventeen artists for its exhibition and an additional nine artists for ancillary programming. Works include video, painting, installation, performance and photography engaging in critical forms of authorship through hypervisibility and self-representation. 

Featured Artists and Performers
Indira Allegra, Elizabeth Axtman, Bella Bahhs, Sofía Córdova, Kevin Demery, Alicia Everett, Ricardo Gamboa, Stephanie Graham, Brandon Markell Holmes, NIC Kay, Maya Mackrandilal, Yvette Mayorga, Nikki Patin, Oli Rodriguez, Arif Smith, twinskin, Darryl Terrell, Marcela Torres, Anna Martine Whitehead, Brittney Leeanne Williams, and Derrick Woods-Morrow. 

Presented by the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life Initiative. Additional exhibition support is provided by the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center and Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, Black Cinema House, and the Department of Exhibition and Performance Spaces (DEPS) at Columbia College Chicago.


Opening Reception
Friday, May 19, 6–8pm
Arts Incubator, 301 East Garfield Boulevard

Opening Night After Party
Friday, May 19, 8–11pm
BING Reading Room, 305 East Garfield Park Boulevard

Curator’s Round Table
Thursday, May 25, 12–1:30pm
Arts Incubator, 301 East Garfield Boulevard

OpenTV Screening
Friday, June 9, Doors 6:30pm, Program 7–9pm
Arts Incubator, 301 East Garfield Boulevard

Closing Program + Reception
Friday, June 16, 6–9pm
The Muffler Shop, 359 East Garfield Boulevard

Groups interested in visiting The Petty Biennial should email Nikki Patin at

About Exhibitions at the Arts Incubator

The exhibitions program at the Arts Incubator offers a platform for Chicago-based artists to thoughtfully engage with the global, contemporary art world in a localized environment. The unique positioning of this program acts as a catalyst for collaboration and exchange, creating a dynamic and critical space. Exhibitions are realized throughout the entirety of the building and the surrounding Washington Park area, fusing temporal, public space with the dedicated interior. This coupling is echoed with the public programming efforts, as we introduce the work of national artists to the local conversation.

Arts + Public Life Curatorial Collective Residency 
Through this new residency program, Arts + Public Life (APL) provides one Curatorial Collective the necessary space and resources to realize innovative projects through the planning and execution of exhibitions at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park. The residency gives preferences to curators whose practices examine themes relevant to South Side communities both on and off campus of the University of Chicago; engage issues of race and ethnicity including, but not limited to, questions of discrimination, anti-racism, and institutional manifestations; and that deepen understandings of race, class, gender, and sexualities, as well as their interconnections and implications.


pin301 E Garfield Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60637

Wed-Fri 12:00pm-6:00pm
Extended hours during events