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And Now You Know More of the Story

Smart Museum expands their narrative

When Ali Gass was appointed as the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum in May 2017, she was clear about her vision. As she explained to Chicago Magazine in an August 2017 interview, “I want to create exhibitions that look at trends across global communities.” The upcoming exhibition Expanding Narratives: The Figure and the Ground (Apr 24–Dec 30, 2018) seeks to do just that. This spring, the Smart will include alongside its already robust collection borrowed works from UChicago alumni and Chicagoarea collectors. The project will create a lens through which to examine the composition and role of the Smart’s diverse collection and how new works can shift and expand the nature and number of narratives the campus museum can create and share.

“We don’t have the space to tell an encyclopedic history all at once, but we can be flexible and build an exhibitions and collections program that positions us as a site of critical debate, reflective of the academic eminence and global impact of the University.” Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2011, Twigs, wire, upholstery, basket, and metal armature. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2011.44.

—Ali Gass, Smart Museum

Casual visitors and art fanatics alike are sure to be entranced and delighted by the influx of works the Smart will host in Expanding Narratives. The Smart is currently in loan talks for works from such

luminaries as Kehinde Wiley, who recently completed the Presidential Portrait of Barack Obama, Kara Walker, and Cindy Sherman. Ultimately, Expanding Narratives will highlight the strength of the Smart’s collection while augmenting the stories the Museum can tell. Expanding Narratives is a three-year, three-part collections and exhibitions project. Each of the three exhibitions will have a distinct theme. The 2018 exhibition Expanding Narratives: The Figure and Ground sets the stage by dissecting representation through the formal dichotomy of figure and ground. In 2019, Expanding Narratives will focus on how museums, collectors, and scholars are “re-inscribing” African American artists and artists of the African Diaspora back into the “canon” of the history of art. In 2020, the final chapter of Expanding Narratives will break with traditional geographic divisions in museum display and tell an ambitious global history of art. This final phase of the exhibition will be installed chronologically with works from around the globe displayed together to allow examination of critical points of intersection among people and cultures. Expanding Narratives is an exhibition that, in the words of Gass, reflects what a university museum should be—a place where “all kinds of people should see themselves reflected.”

Profile for UChicagoArts

2018 Spring Arts Guide