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Visual Arts and Film Screenings at Northwestern in December

Block Museum, Dittmar Gallery and University Library exhibitions open to public

  • Block Museum preparing for the Jan. 16 opening of Charlotte Moorman exhibition
  • Time running out to view Dittmar Gallery’s “School Works,” show closes Dec. 6
  • Deering Library showcasing “Making Faces” cartoon exhibition through Dec. 30
  • Herskovits Library exhibition highlighting comics from and about Africa through Dec. 30 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Following the Nov. 30 closing of “Geof Oppenheimer: Big Boss and the Ecstasy of Pressures” -- the Chicago artist’s first solo museum exhibition -- Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art curators and staff will spend December preparing for the Block’s Winter 2016 blockbuster exhibition.

NOTE: The Block Museum will be closed to the public Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday. However, the Block will re-open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28; Sunday, Nov. 29; and Monday, Nov. 30, for the three final days of the Oppenheimer exhibition. (The Block is generally closed on Mondays.)

While the Block’s fall exhibition focused on two new pieces by Oppenheimer commissioned by the Block, including “Civil/Evil,” a large sculpture occupying the museum’s entire main gallery, and a 10-minute video installation, “DRAMA,” on the museum’s first floor, the winter 2016 exhibition will pay homage to Charlotte Moorman, “the Topless Cellist.”

A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,” Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, in the Main Gallery, is the first major exhibition exploring the art and impact of Charlotte Moorman -- a musician, performance artist and advocate of the avant-garde. It will examine her life, her work, her influence, and the vast network of artists across creative fields who were her collaborators in the 1960s through 1980. 

The Block also will host Don't Throw Anything Out: Charlotte Moorman's Archive,” Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, in the Katz Gallery, which offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world and includes relics as diverse as childhood essays, answering machine messages, gifts from artist friends, and poignant day-by-day accounts of her struggle with cancer. Culled from Northwestern's Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, where the Charlotte Moorman Archive is housed, this exhibition illuminates Moorman's domestic world and working methods and shows her extraordinary dedication to the documentation of her life and artistic milieu.

In addition, Deering Library will present “Charlotte’s Scene: Archives of the Avant Garde at Northwestern Libraries,” Jan. 11 through July 17, 2016. The exhibit will feature highlights from four University archives related to Charlotte Moorman and her times: John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jim McWilliams and the ONCE Festival.

Block Cinema will screen two films in early December -- “Narazin,” a 1959 film directed by Luis Buñuel, which pays tribute to the late Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907–1997), and “Count Me In,” a local documentary-in-the-works by Ines Sommer, about an innovative experiment in direct democracy, which gives viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the filmmaking process. 

Dittmar Memorial Gallery’s fall exhibition, “School Works” by Jerry Truong, through Dec. 6, examines the political implications of the American educational system. 

Following winter break, the Dittmar Gallery will re-open with “Unnatural Growth,” Jan. 7 through Feb. 14, featuring Chicago-based and South African-born multidisciplinary artist Ali Aschman’s animations, sculptures and works on paper. The winter 2016 show reflects the artists’ struggle with the recurrent theme “in art and literature that oppressively tie women’s bodies to the natural world, but are nonetheless aesthetically seductive.” 

Northwestern’s Deering Library is presenting Making Faces: Cartoons and Cartoonists from Northwestern Library Collections,” through Dec. 30. In this exhibit, the long and colorful history of cartooning and illustration comes to life through Northwestern Library collections. The exhibit features talented alumni artists as well as rare illustrations of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, including prints from the father of political cartooning, James Gillray, and original works by Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune cartoonist John T. McCutcheon.

And Northwestern’s Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies will host “African Cartoon Art: Voices and Visions,” through Dec. 30, which highlights comics from and about Africa.

The following Northwestern events will take place on the Evanston campus. All are free, unless otherwise noted. 

MARY AND LEIGH BLOCK MUSEUM OF ART

Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive on the University’s Evanston campus. More information on Block exhibitions and events is available online, or by calling 847-491-4000.

BLOCK MUSEUM FALL 2015 EXHIBITION

“Geof Oppenheimer: Big Boss and the Ecstasy of Pressures,” through Nov. 30, Main Gallery and Alsdorf Gallery, Block Museum. “Big Boss and the Ecstasy of Pressures” features two new works by Oppenheimer commissioned by the Block, including a large sculpture occupying the entirety of the museum’s main gallery, and a 10-minute video installation on the museum’s first floor. With each of these new works, Oppenheimer deepens his ongoing investigations into the rational, regulating forces of human society, from political and economic systems to the proliferation of visual and textual rhetoric. 

The sculpture, “Civil/Evil,” probes structures of power and how they are communicated through material and image, pressure and release, upon the individual.

The video, “DRAMA,” invokes how our relations to one another are shaped and predetermined by systems of exchange and labor. Included in museum group exhibitions and biennials nationally and internationally, this is the first solo exhibition by Oppenheimer in the city where he lives and works.

BLOCK CINEMA - DECEMBER 2015 SCREENINGS

Block Cinema screens classic and contemporary films and is dedicated to providing the Northwestern campus, the North Shore and Chicago with a quality venue for cinema. Block Cinema is sponsored in part by a generous gift from James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati. 

In December, the following two films will be screened in the Block Museum’s Pick-Laudati Auditorium:

Tribute to Gabriel Figueroa, through Dec. 3, celebrates the films of cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907–1997), who was instrumental in forging an evocative and enduring image of Mexico from the early 1930s through the 1980s. Figueroa worked with leading directors from Mexico, the U.S., and Europe, traversing a wide variety of genres while maintaining his distinctive and vivid visual style. His precise attention to framing, dramatic use of light and shadow, and signature deep focus compositions are the work of a truly exceptional artist.

  • Tribute to Gabriel Figueroa series, “Nazarín,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 (Luis Buñuel, 1959, Mexico, 35mm, 94 minutes.) “Nazarín,” the final film in the fall series, sees Buñuel tapping into one of his most frequent themes: the test of faith. A Catholic priest’s life begins to fall apart when he provides shelter to a murderer. His parish is threatened and he resolves to become a beggar. Two women think he has healing powers and, to his dismay, begin to follow him. Buñuel’s tone is complicated -- he is sympathetic to the protagonist -- yet derides his naiveté and unceasing devotion to religious idealism. Although Nazarín is one of Buñuel’s lesser-known films, it is a favorite of Guillermo Del Toro, and the director himself. The late Russian filmmaker and film theorist Andrei Tarkovsky also was a fan.

The New Documentaries series, through Dec. 4, continues this fall with “Count Me In” at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 (Free), Ines Sommer’s forthcoming film, which will be screened as a work-in-progress. This ongoing series is co-sponsored by Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media Program.

  • “Count Me In,” 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, FREE (Ines Sommer, 2015, United States, digital, approximately 60 minutes). “Count Me In” follows the stories of ordinary Chicagoans who are part of an innovative experiment in direct democracy -- one that empowers them to propose and vote directly for publicly funded projects in their neighborhoods. As support for participatory budgeting begins to spread throughout the United States, Count Me In” offers an engaging look at the complex and riveting task of revitalizing democracy from the ground up. More information available online. Look behind the scenes of the filmmaking process – filmmaker Ines Sommer will share several excerpts from her new work-in-progress documentary and invites you to give feedback. The film will be preceded by a brief reception in the Block Museum lobby.

Block Cinema general admission is $6; $4 with a Northwestern WildCARD, student ID and for seniors, or are free, as noted. A quarterly pass is $20. More information available online. 

DITTMAR GALLERY FALL 2015 EXHIBITION

Note: The Dittmar Gallery and Norris University Center will be closed Thursday, Nov. 26; Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving break. Both will re-open at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 29. Hours and locations available online. 

“School Works” by Jerry Truong, through Dec. 6, Dittmar Memorial Gallery, first floor, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. “School Works” examines the political implications of the American educational system through blackboard-like large-scale paintings, sculptures that utilize objects, such as plastic chairs and overhead projectors, and signs displaying summaries of notable teaching philosophies. On one hand, the works function as a critique by pointing out the contradictions embedded in education, while simultaneously referencing philosophical, social and political ideas and art movements that challenge traditional modes of thinking. This exhibition strives to embody all we hope for out of school, a space that encourages learning and independence, but also the very thing that we fear it could become: a site of conflict as a political tool. More information available online. 

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

Note: Northwestern’s Charles Deering Library and the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies will be closed Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving break. Library hours and locations are available online. 

Making Faces: Cartoons and Cartoonists from Northwestern Library Collections,” through Dec. 30 in the Charles Deering Library, 1935 Sheridan Road. In the hands of a skilled artist, a pen can be the best tool for conveying the subtleties of a personality, a situation or an idea. All subjects are fair game to a cartoonist: politics, sports, entertainment and even campus life at a certain Midwestern university. In this exhibit, the long and colorful history of cartooning and illustration comes to life through Northwestern Library collections, featuring talented alumni artists like "Banderooge" creator Robert Leighton (‘82), Disney director John Musker (‘75), and sports caricaturist Murray Olderman (‘47), represented by the holdings of University Archives. Curators also highlight the rare illustrations of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, including prints from the father of political cartooning, James Gillray and original works by Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune cartoonist John T. McCutcheon. Admission is free and open to the public.

“African Cartoon Art: Voices and Visions,” through Dec. 30, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. This exhibit highlights comics from and about Africa, including Senegalese cartoonist T. T. Fons’ wildly popular character Goorgoorlou, a Nigerian multi-volume comic book biography of Barack Obama, the Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s “Tintin in the Congo,” the Marvel Comics character The Black Panther, and much more, including a video display of talks by African editorial cartoonists.

Established in 1954, the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University is the largest separate Africana collection in existence. Its scope is as wide as the continent of Africa itself; its subject matter ranges from art, history, literature, music and religion to communications, management and cooking. The Africana collection is a resource for the entire University, and most of Northwestern's disciplinary programs are reflected in the collection. In addition to serving the Northwestern community, the Herskovits Library staff also serves regional, national and international scholars. More information available online.

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