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December Visual Arts at Northwestern

Block Museum, Dittmar Gallery and University Library fall events to close soon

EVANSTON, Ill. --- There is only a short time left to visit a Northwestern University exhibition that highlights the work of internationally renowned Kenyan-born and New York-based artist and sculptor Wangechi Mutu, one of world’s most important contemporary artists. Mutu’s exhibition addresses issues of racism, gender inequality and much more. 

Hosted by the University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, this exhibition is the first U.S. survey of Mutu’s work. It was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The Block is the touring exhibition’s sole Midwest region venue.

Free and open to the public, “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” runs through Dec. 7 and includes Mutu’s iconic collages, rarely-seen early works, new creations, sketches and the artist’s first-ever animated video, “The End of eating Everything,” featuring singer/songwriter Santigold. The Block will screen this video through Nov. 30. (Note: The Block Museum will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26 and remain closed Thursday, Nov. 27 and Friday, Nov. 28, for the Thanksgiving holiday. It will re-open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29 and Sunday, Nov. 30.)


The Block Museum will be closed for winter break starting on Dec. 8. It will re-open Jan. 13 with the Winter 2015 Main Gallery exhibition, “Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies,” which runs through April 19. Conceived and curated by Northwestern University professor Rob Linrothe in collaboration with Rubin Museum of Art curator Christian Lucanzits, the exhibition will feature metalwork, paintings, ivories and woodwork from Kashmir and the Western Himalayas from the 6th to 16th centuries.

“Collecting Paradise” presents an original and innovative look at Buddhist art from the region of Kashmir, as well as the ways it has been “collected” throughout history. Bringing together approximately 50 objects from collections around the world, it examines the many legacies of Kashmiri art and culture, including the religious meanings of the works; their aesthetic and cultural values across borders; the historical relationships among the Kashmiri “originals” and Western Himalayan descendants; and the Western practice of collecting art from other cultures.

For information on upcoming Block Museum events, visit Block Museum.

Block Cinema continues to pay homage to Henri Langlois (1914-1977), a founder, director and curator of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris, one of the world’s most celebrated film archives by screening the last two films in the fall series. Langlois was responsible for saving countless films from destruction by the Nazis or decay due to indifference and neglect. To view Block Cinema’s complete fall screening schedule online, visit Block Cinema

Dittmar Memorial Gallery “Chicago Games as Art & Culture,” which runs through Dec. 2, curated by Thomas Rousse and featuring five artists, marks the first exhibit of digital interactive work at the Dittmar. The Dittmar Gallery will reopen on Jan. 9, with “Night for Day,” a new exhibition featuring intricate, site-specific installations by artist Jason Paradis that explore the night sky. “Night for Day” runs through Feb. 8. (NOTE: The Dittmar Gallery will be closed from Thursday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Nov. 30, for Thanksgiving break. The gallery will re-open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1. For more information, visit Dittmar Memorial Gallery.) 

University Library celebrates the Northwestern University Marching Band’s showmanship and dedication in an exhibit that opened earlier this fall. “Pride and Guts: Northwestern University Marching Band,” runs through Dec. 19, at Northwestern University Library and the Deering Library. University Library is hosting three other smaller exhibits: • William Hogarth’s Modern Moral Subjects: “A Harlot’s Progress” and “A Rake’s Progress,” runs through Jan. 22, 2015, on the third floor of Deering Library.  • “Celebrating 80 Years of Jewish Life at Northwestern Hillel,” will remain on display through Jan. 5, 2015, in the New Book Alcove in University Library (near Periodicals).  And “Militant Islam in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria and Boko Haram,” runs through Dec. 12.

(Note: University Library exhibits will be closed Thursday, Nov. 27, and Friday, Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving break. They will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30. For more information, visit University Library


One Book One Northwestern is the University’s community-wide reading program hosted by the Office of the President. The selection for the 2014-15 academic year is Claude Steele’s book “Whistling Vivaldi” (W.W. Norton, 2010). One Book also has scheduled film screenings, lectures, themed dinner/panel discussions and more throughout the current academic year. All events are free and many are open to the public. For information, visit One Book One Northwestern or email


Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. For more information, visit Block Museum or call 847-491-4000.


• Free tours for groups of five or more people can be pre-arranged. Requests should be made at least four weeks in advance. For more information, email or visit Block Museum.

• Gallery tours for higher education groups and kindergarten through high school classes also are available. For more information, visit Block Museum.

The following Evanston campus events at the Block are free and open to the public:


• “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey,” through Dec. 7, Main Gallery and Alsdorf Gallery. Spanning the mid-1990s to the present, the Mutu exhibition includes more than 50 pieces ranging from the artist’s most iconic collages to rarely seen early works and new creations. The artist also transformed parts of the Block’s main gallery into an environmental installation during her campus visit earlier this year. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu is best known for large-scale collages depicting mythic female figures in lush, otherworldly landscapes. Her work explores issues of colonialism, gender, globalization, race, war and the black female body. She often combines found materials and magazine cutouts with sculpture and painted imagery, sampling from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry and science fiction.

The retrospective was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art.

“Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” is made possible by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Major support is provided by Marilyn M. Arthur, the Ford Foundation, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Katherine Thorpe and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Additional generous support was provided by Duke University’s Council for the Arts; Gladstone Gallery, New York; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Support for the presentation at the Block Museum has been provided by the Diane and Craig Solomon Contemporary Art Fund and an anonymous donor. Additional generous support has been provided by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. For more information, visit Block Museum.

• “Ecological Looking: Sustainability and the End(s) of the Earth,” through Nov. 30, Katz Gallery. This exhibition, curated by Northwestern art history Ph.D. student Jacob Leveton, considers representations of industry -- mining, agriculture, oil extraction and refining -- through an ecological lens. Combining prints and photographs from the Block's permanent collection and examples from Northwestern’s Herskovits Library of African Studies, and framed by thought-provoking quotations from critical thinkers and writers, the exhibition considers the impact industrial practices have had on the planet. Support for exhibitions in the Katz Gallery is provided by Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz, the Norton S. Walbridge Fund, and contributors to the Annual Fund. For more information, visit Block Museum.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, first floor, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. The Dittmar Gallery 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 art students and traveling art shows. For more information, contact the Dittmar Gallery at 847-491-2348 or Norris University Center at 847-491-2300, email or visit Dittmar Memorial Gallery.


• “Chicago Games as Art & Culture,” through Dec. 2. “Chicago Games” invites visitors to reconsider the power and vibrancy of video games as a medium for artistic expression through the work of local creators. The city of Chicago, the worldwide hub of arcade manufacturing and distribution in the second half of the 20th century, now hosts an exciting new wave of independent game designers poised to retake gaming's crown. The exhibition showcases the work of Greg Wohlwend, Rob Lach, Patrick Segura, Brian Patrick Franklin and Christopher Wille. Their contributions, curated by Thomas Rousse of GAMESat.NU (a group of graduate and undergraduates students who sponsor game activities on Northwestern’s campus), speak to the protean nature of games as art, spanning themes from acceptance to bodily disorientation and technologies from pixel-art to virtual reality. “Chicago Games” marks the first exhibit of digital interactive work at Dittmar Memorial Gallery.”


• “Night for Day” featuring artwork by Jason Paradis, Jan. 9 through Feb. 8, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Dittmar’s winter 2015 exhibition will explore the night sky, bringing the stars above into the gallery below. A combination of paintings, yarn and rocks, Paradis’ intricate, site-specific installations explore phenomena through collapsing time, distance and space. The exhibition and an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, are free and open to the public.


Exhibitions at Northwestern University Library, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston campus, are open to the public daily. Members of the Northwestern community with a valid WildCARD can visit during all open library hours. Admission is free. For more information, visit University Library or call (847) 491-7658.

• “Pride and Guts: Northwestern University Marching Band,” runs through Dec. 19, at Northwestern University Library and the Deering Library. University Library celebrates the Northwestern University Marching Band’s showmanship and dedication in a new exhibit. Curators scoured University Archives to find the artifacts that tell the story of the band, from its first appearance as a marching unit in 1911 to the present day, complete with historical uniforms, dashing shako hats and twirlers’ batons. The exhibit also pays homage to two legendary figures -- Glenn Cliffe Bainum and John P. Paynter -- the ensemble’s first two band directors and both towering figures in Northwestern music history. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit University Library.

• William Hogarth’s Modern Moral Subjects: “A Harlot’s Progress” and “A Rake’s Progress,” through Jan. 22, 2015, on the third floor of Deering Library. Painter William Hogarth created two series of morality tales that brought him much acclaim in the early 18th century. The stories, told in a series of paintings, chronicle the woeful tales of a young man and a young woman who stray from the path of righteousness with tragic consequences. A complete series of engraved prints made from these paintings, held in the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, are on display.

• “Celebrating 80 Years of Jewish Life at Northwestern Hillel,” on display through Jan. 5, 2015, in the New Book Alcove in University Library (near Periodicals). Articles, magazines, books and other artifacts document the history of the organization that has been the hub of Jewish life on campus since its founding in 1934. The retrospective recognizes significant moments in Jewish life on campus, including a 1964 Daily Northwestern article that exposed a controversial quota policy for Jewish admissions, as well as a copy of the Hillel-sponsored “Schmooze,” the first national magazine written by and for Jewish students.

• “Militant Islam in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria and Boko Haram,” on display through Dec. 12. The militant group Boko Haram wrested international attention in April 2014 when it kidnapped more than 250 schoolgirls from the small Nigerian town of Chibok. An exhibit now on display in the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies gathers many of the collection’s materials that chronicle the rise of the group, as well as other internal struggles that contribute to civil unrest in the most populous country in Africa. Many of the materials on display are available for use. The exhibit is also supplemented by new online guides for researchers studying militant Islam in Africa and the U.S. response to Boko Haram.


A long-term construction project on Northwestern’s south campus has limited access to the Block Museum and Arts Circle Drive. Free parking is available after 4 p.m. in the lot directly south of the museum. For directions and additional parking information, visit Block Museum.

Topics: Visual Arts

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