Smart Museum Acquires New Works for Art to Live With Program

UChicago student committee selects 9 new works in first major expansion of the collection
Four side-by-side photos depict one student in each photo holding up a framed work of art.

The Smart Museum of Art acquired 9 new works of art (PDF list of acquisitions) to lend out to University of Chicago students through the Art to Live With program. The works—by Suzanne Anker, Sabba Elahi, Ester Hernandez, Takashi Murakami, Kevin Pang, Gordon Parks, Pope.L, Alison Saar, and Orkideh Torabi—were proposed and selected by a committee of College and graduate students and represent the first significant expansion of the Art to Live With collection since the 1960s.

“When we re-launched Art to Live With this year, we made it a priority to grow the collection and to do so in a way that not only reflects the interests of the University’s diverse, global student body but also represents multiple artistic perspectives,” said Alison Gass, Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. “It has been wonderful to see students embrace this project at a time when the Smart Museum itself is working on a parallel track, examining the composition and role of our core collection through projects like Expanding Narratives: The Figure and the Ground.”

Two women sit at an artist's studio table engaged in discussion.Art to Live With Collections and Acquisitions Committee member Yiting Li on a studio visit with artist Orkideh Torabi

The works were selected by 10 students in the Art to Live With Collections and Acquisitions Committee, based on a collecting plan designed to expand the collection and tell a broader story across geographic and temporal spaces.

“I have learned so much from the process of preparing my acquisitions proposals. I was so genuinely happy having conversations about each of the proposed works; it really solidified that this is what I want to do with my life,” said committee member Sabrina Lefkowitz, class of 2018. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that fact that, because of this program, I know this is really what I want to do. Having experiences like this at such a young age is so rare, and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. It’s definitely given me that extra motivation to keep working towards my goals.”

“The Art to Live With collection is used exclusively by students, and we felt that it was critical that they have a voice in the acquisition process,” said Emily Edwards, the Art to Live With Registration and Programming Coordinator. “I have been continually impressed by our committee’s thoughtfulness in building a 21st century collection that reflects the principles of inclusiveness and diversity that are championed by today’s students. Their experiences will have a lasting impact, both on the future of this collection and their professional lives.”

The original collection was assembled by Joseph R. Shapiro, a UChicago alumnus and founding president of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Shapiro was passionate about sharing his collection. In a 1969 interview, he said that “the enjoyment of art is something that multiplies by division...share it with people and it becomes a communal experience, a motivational force for drawing people together.” The works in the original Art to Live With collection—including prints by Marc Chagall, Eleanor Coen, Francisco de Goya, Margo Hoff, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and other American and European artists—have been shared with thousands of students over multiple decades and will continue to circulate through dorm rooms for the duration of the program.

Throughout the academic year, the student Collections and Acquisitions Committee made studio visits with artists and met with collectors, curators, auction-house professionals, and gallerists. Then, with guidance from staff at the Smart Museum, they identified specific works to propose for acquisition, researched the works, and wrote proposals defending their acquisition. They presented their proposals to the Student Advisory Committee during the spring quarter.

Two additional works were acquired from artists within the University community. Kevin Pang won the inaugural Art to Live With Department of Visual Arts (DoVA) MFA Acquisition Award. In addition, artist and DoVA faculty member Pope.L donated a drawing to the collection.

The students also engaged one of the new Art to Live With artists to perform a new collaborative work. Sabba Elahi and dancer-choreographer Ahalya Satkunaratnam will present Darmiyaan, a meditative drawing and movement performance at the Smart Museum on May 27 at 3 pm. The performance is free and open to all and will be followed by a discussion and small reception.

The works listed below were added to the Art to Live With collection and will be made available to students living in University of Chicago residence halls during the 2018–2019 academic year. Students will have the opportunity to preview works during the ART-B-Q on October 4, 2018, 5–8pm and select works during Art Match on October 7, 2018, 8am–noon.

Acquisitions funds were provided by Greg Wendt (AB ’83) and a grant from UChicago Arts supported the work of the student committee.

Art to Live With 2018 acquisitions (PDF)

This story originally appeared on the Smart Museum of Art website.