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Northwestern University May 2012 Visual Arts Calendar

EVANSTON, Ill.  “Art on Paper: Prints, Drawings and Photographs from the Block Museum,” the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s Spring 2012 exhibition, opens May 11 and runs though Aug. 26.

“Art on Paper” celebrates the depth and diversity of the Block’s permanent collection and the collection’s role within Northwestern University’s intellectual and cultural life, with compelling works by artists, including Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Mary Cassatt and Ed Paschke.

The Block Museum, at 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It is closed on Monday. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-4000.

Printmaker and textile artist Meredith Setser’s “Coalescence/Diaspora” exhibition of felt installations runs through May 13 at the Dittmar Memorial Gallery. The annual Senior Show, “Liminal End,” opens May 17 and runs through June 7.  It features installations by Northwestern senior class of art theory and practice majors

Exhibitions at University Library at 1970 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus are open to the public daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The newest exhibit, “Choices: Alternative Cars, Alternative Fuels” opens May 15 and runs through Aug. 17. “Step by Step: The History of Dance at Northwestern,” runs through May 12; “Papering Over Tough Times: Soviet Propaganda Posters of the 1930s,” runs through June 15. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-7658.


“Art on Paper: Prints, Drawings and Photographs from the Block Museum,” from May 11 through Aug. 26, Block Museum, Main Gallery. “Art on Paper” reflects the depth and diversity of the nearly 5,000 objects in the Block’s permanent collection. The exhibition features culturally important and technologically innovative works on paper by Albrecht Durer, Castiglione, J. M. Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Wassily Kandinsky, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, Ed Paschke, Robert Mapplethorpe, Laura Letinsky, Sarah Sze and other significant artists spanning more than seven centuries. It explores the collection’s role for cross-disciplinary research and teaching and documents the growth of the Block's holdings. The exhibition celebrates the museum’s areas of distinction, including collections of drawings and prints by Chicago architects Walter Burley and Marion Mahoney Griffin and computer-generated works on paper.

MFA Thesis Exhibition from the Department of Art Theory and Practice, May 4 through June 17, Block Museum, Alsdorf Gallery. The annual MFA exhibition is the culmination of study leading to the master of fine arts degree. Candidates engage in intensive research as they develop their individual art-making practices in a climate of rigorous critical thinking. The exhibition is the place in which they turn their research, as manifest in the works of art they have made, over to the public. This year the exhibit features the work of Robert Chase Heishman, Zach Meyer, Madsen Minax, Rachel Niffenegger and Megan Schvaneveldt. An exhibition catalogue will be available. An opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, is free and open to the public.

“The Immortal Art Project Exhibit,” May 10 through June 17, Block Museum. A displayed scroll of colorful thumbprints made by members of the Northwestern University community is a collaboration of the Block Museum and One Book One Northwestern. The scroll is a response to the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells, taken without her knowledge, were used in groundbreaking medical research. Northwestern students, faculty and staff have participated in University discussions of Rebecca Skloot’s book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” this year.


“Theo Leffmann: Weaving a Life into Art,” through June 17, Block Museum, Theo Leffman Gallery. The fiber art of Chicago artist Theo Leffmann (1911-96) evokes the ancient and the exotic, echoing pre-Columbian and non-Western processes and forms with a distinct personal vision. Her 40-year career coincided with a revolution in textile art as the division between “high art” and “craft” diminished. The display of Leffmann’s colorful, richly textured and playful weavings, wall hangings and sculptural objects is drawn from the Block Museum’s permanent collection. The works are generous gifts from her husband Paul Leffmann.


(NOTE NEW ENDING DATE) Spring Exhibition Tours, 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, from May 12 through June 17. Block Museum docents will lead free, guided tours of the Block Museum’s “Art on Paper” exhibition. Tours for classes or groups of eight or more people are available with advance notice through Aug. 26. Contact


A host of programs at the Block this spring and summer will offer deeper engagement with the museum’s exhibitions and collections. Unless noted, the following programs are free of charge.

MFA Thesis Exhibition from the department of art theory and practice, opening reception, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3. Faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to join the artists and Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice faculty to celebrate this year’s exhibition.

Department of Art History Elizabeth and Todd Warnock Lecture Series, "Because Your Majesty Favors Painting, Paintings and Drawings Created in the Americas as Gifts for the Habsburgs,” 4 p.m. Thursday, May 10. Professor Tom Cummins, chairman of the department of the history of art and architecture at Harvard University, will explain how images created in Mexico and Peru and intended for European royalty played an active role in imaginatively erasing the physical and cultural distance between Spain and the Americas in the 16th century.

Block Talk, Educating the Eye: Public Sculpture, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 15. Lisa Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director, will discuss her role as artistic lead for the Olympic Sculpture Park. That project transformed a former industrial site along Seattle’s waterfront into a nine-acre open green and art space with works by Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder and other major artists.

MFA Film Premiere Night, 7 p.m. Saturday, May 19. Artists Madsen Minax, Megan Schvaneveldt, Zach Meyer, Rachel Niffenegger and Robert Chase Heishman and his collaborator Brendan Meara will screen a new video work. Steve Reinke, associate professor of art theory and practice at Northwestern, will host.

Gallery Talk, Unique Perspectives, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 24. Art Institute of Chicago curator Mark Pascale will join Block senior curator Debora Wood to address works in the Block’s “Art on Paper” exhibition from the viewpoints of museum professionals and educators.

The State of the Art: Insight into the Conservation of Prints and Drawings, 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 30. Harriet Stratis, head of paper conservation and senior curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, will discuss the care and conservation of works of art on paper using examples from the Art Institute’s collection. She will also provide guidelines for proper storage and display.


Exhibitions at University Library at 1970 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, are open to the public daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-7658.

(NEW) “Choices: Alternative Cars, Alternative Fuels” exhibition, May 15 through Aug. 17, University Library. ”Choices” explores attempts to create and use alternative energy sources and the vehicles they fuel. A wealth of library materials demonstrate their impact on the environment, the economy and the transportation experience. 

“Step by Step: The History of Dance at Northwestern” exhibition, through May 12, at University Library. As early as 1866, the Northwestern Female College (eventually absorbed into Northwestern University) offered calisthenics to its students “for a small extra charge." As Northwestern grew, dance and movement continued to have several homes across the campus. In 1979, Northwestern Professor Susan A. Lee created a program in dance in the department of theatre that would honor dance as a distinct discipline and support the artistic nature of the field, while encouraging the emerging scholarly activity. The “Step by Step” exhibition traces the way dance came of age on Northwestern’s Evanston campus with a selection of archival materials as well as dance-related figurines from Lee’s private collection. Lee will give a curator’s talk at noon Monday, April 9, at the exhibit on the main floor of the library. Admission is free.

“Papering Over Tough Times: Soviet Propaganda Posters of the 1930s” exhibition, through June 15, University Library. Drawn from the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, the exhibition documents attempts by the Soviet government to inspire, placate, inform and frighten its citizens during an era of social engineering.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston

campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The gallery focuses on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows. For information, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, email or visit


Meredith Setser, “Coalescence/Diaspora” exhibition, through May 13, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Printmaker and textile artist Meredith Setser’s felt installations are typically composed of small fragments of printed information and patterns derived from many different sources, including biology and geology, and melded into larger, unified pieces. Her works suggest biological commonalities shared by plants, animals and humans, such as dispersion, migration and displacement. Setser is assistant professor of printmaking at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. For more on Setser, visit

“Liminal End,” Senior Show, May 17 through June 7, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. The exhibition features the work of the Class of 2012 undergraduate art majors enrolled in Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice. Their work reflects the students’ varied approaches to contemporary art-making and marks the culmination of their undergraduate studies. Displaying artists are seniors Jenna Fugate, Joanne Kim, Morgan Krehbiel, Meagan Lee and Angela Wang. An opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 18, is free and open to the public.

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