White Rabbits | Art & Design in Chicago

White Rabbits made the White City beautiful. When it came time to construct the sculptures and decorations that ornamented the palaces of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago’s Jackson Park, the sculptor Lorado Taft decided to turn to several of his female students at the School of the Art Institute for help at a time when bias often prevented female sculptors from finding work. When Taft, who was overseeing the fair’s sculptural ornament, asked chief architect Daniel Burnham if he could hire them, Burnham reportedly replied, “Hire anyone, even white rabbits if they’ll work!” And thus did the group of young sculptors receive its name.

South Side Community Art Center | Art & Design in Chicago

The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) was funded with dimes. During the Great Depression, the Federal Art Project, under the aegis of the unemployment-alleviating Works Progress Administration, set up more than 100 community art centers around the country to employ artists and make art available to neighborhoods through classes and exhibitions. The Federal Art Project would staff the centers, pay the teacher’s salaries, and handle operating costs, but the community itself had to provide the building.

What Makes People Ban Books?

Daniel Hautzinger
The American Library Assocation's Office for Intellectual Freedom is currently hosting Banned Books Week. What kinds of books were most frequently challenged in 2017, and what books from The Great America Read's list of America's favorite novels have been banned?

Institute of Design | Art & Design in Chicago

In 1937, an innovative Hungarian artist came to Chicago to set up a school of design based on the latest progressive German artistic ideals. László Moholy-Nagy had taught at Germany’s experimental Bauhaus, which sought to create art for the industrial age and to reconcile art, design, and architecture. As an influential photographer, thinker, and painter, Moholy-Nagy was invited to form a school along the lines of the Bauhaus in Chicago, and the New Bauhaus was born.

Hyde Park Art Center | Art & Design in Chicago

Chicago’s oldest community arts center helped launch the career of many of its youngest – and eventually most influential – artists. The Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) began in a storefront as the Fifth Ward Art Center in 1939. Over the decades, it shuttled through numerous locations, finally moving into its first free-standing home at 5020 S. Cornell Avenue in 2006. In the first couple of decades, it primarily offered classes to people from the neighborhood, but when artist Don Baum became involved as a teacher and curator in the mid-1950s, it began to present exhibitions spotlighting local artists.

Hairy Who | Art & Design in Chicago

In 1966, one adventurous Hyde Park curator took a chance on a group of unknown graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Calling themselves Hairy Who, they gave Chicago a visual arts movement to call its own.

Exhibition Momentum | Art & Design in Chicago

Chicago’s art community was at war. In 1947, the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual Chicago and Vicinity exhibition, an important showcase of local artists, featured primarily students or recent graduates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Older artists were incensed. They organized counter exhibitions and fired off an indignant open letter. Hoping to appease them, the Art Institute capitulated and declared that the 1948 exhibition would be “limited to professional artists.”

Henry Darger | Art & Design in Chicago

For most of his life, Henry Darger lived in a one-room apartment building, attended Catholic Mass as many as four or five times a day, and worked as a janitor and dishwasher at a hospital. He paid meticulous attention to the weather, even recording it every day for ten years in a journal. He barely interacted with anyone and seems to have had only one friend, who one biographer believes was also his lover. And he also wrote, and drew, and painted, and cut-and-pasted. Thousands of pages, hundreds of illustrations, multiple volumes, and none of it seen by anyone except himself until after his death.

Gertrude Abercrombie | Art & Design in Chicago

They called her the “Queen of the Bohemian Artists,” and she presided over gatherings that included Thornton Wilder, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, and others at her Hyde Park home. But she wasn’t just the host of a salon – she herself was an idiosyncratic painter (and sometimes played piano with her jazz musician friends). Gertrude Abercrombie was never represented by a major gallery and her reputation was mostly local, but she was a renowned figure in Chicago who left behind a striking collection of works.

Artemisia | Art & Design in Chicago

Tired of being pushed out of exhibition spaces, a group of female art students formed their own collective in 1973. The group existed for three decades, launching careers and occasionally attracting controversy.


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