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Visual Arts at Northwestern in March and More

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

  • Block Museum’s Charlotte Moorman exhibition examines the artist’s life and work
  • Block’s “Don’t Throw Anything Out” offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world
  • Deering exhibits showcase Charlotte Moorman and Northwestern’s Transportation Library
  • Dittmar hosting Marcellous Lovelace, “#Biko 70 Lumumba Blacker than Space” exhibit

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A blockbuster exhibition at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art continues to spark public and media interest. It pays homage to Charlotte Moorman -- a musician, performance artist and advocate of the avant-garde.

The Block Museum’s Main Gallery show, “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,” which runs through July 17, 2016, is the first major exhibition exploring the art and impact of Moorman. It examines her life, her work, her influence and the vast network of artists across creative fields who were her collaborators in the 1960s through the 1980s.

The Block also is hosting Don't Throw Anything Out: Charlotte Moorman's Archive,” through July 17, in the Katz Gallery, an auxiliary exhibition that offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world. 

The Block has planned a variety of public performances, conversations and presentations to help the public discover why Charlotte Moorman was called both the “Joan of Arc of New Music” and the “Topless Cellist.” Detailed information on these programs follows. 

The upcoming winter and spring 2016 events will provide opportunities to meet artists who participated in Moorman's Annual Avant Garde festivals in New York and experience experimental performances of works by composers such as John Cage and Nam June Paik.

In conjunction with the Block exhibitions, Northwestern’s Deering Library is presenting “Charlotte’s Scene: Archives of the Avant Garde at Northwestern Libraries,” through July 17. The exhibit features highlights from four University archives related to Charlotte Moorman and her times: John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jim McWilliams and the ONCE Festival.

Information on Block Cinema Winter 2016 screenings available online.

During the Northwestern MFA Open Studios, 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Locy Hall, the public will have the opportunity to meet and greet 10 student artists who will be exhibiting their work in a series of former geological laboratories at Locy Hall, a brown brick building on the Evanston campus that dates back to the early 20th century. The event will be hosted by Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice.

Northwestern’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery’s winter show, featuring the work of “Afro-urban” and Chicago-based artist Marcellous Lovelace, “#Biko 70 Lumumba Blacker than Space,” runs through March 20. Lovelace’s exhibition is intended to convey the story of people who are overlooked inside a segregated, biased space overcome by poverty, crime, food deserts, joblessness, gang violence and police brutality.

More information on these and other Northwestern events on the Evanston campus follow. All are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Information on a variety of upcoming arts and humanities events also is available online at the new Arts Circle website.


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.


  • “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s” exhibition, through July 17, 2016, Block Museum, Main Gallery, 40 Arts Circle Drive. Charlotte Moorman (1933–1991) was a groundbreaking, rule-bending artist, musician and advocate for the experimental art of her time. Trained as a classical cellist, she both performed and championed the works of visual artists, composers and choreographers who were redefining art -- collapsing the boundaries between media and renegotiating the relationships between artist and audience. The Block exhibition explores her performances, the festivals she produced and her commitment to making experimental art accessible to all.
  • Don't Throw Anything Out: Charlotte Moorman's Archive,” through July 17, 2016, Block Museum, Katz Gallery. This auxiliary exhibition 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.

The exhibitions are accompanied by a lively menu of lectures, performances, film screenings, artist conversations and pop-up happenings around Northwestern, Evanston and beyond. Unless otherwise noted, admission to Block Museum public programs is free and open to all. Details available online.

MARCH 2016 

  • Lecture Demonstration: Moorman, Cage and the Avant-Garde, 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, Block Museum. Using Charlotte Moorman’s own annotated copy of John Cage’s “26’ 1.1499” for a String Player” as inspiration, this program explores her realization of Cage’s indeterminate score. Musicologist Ben Piekut, associate professor of musicology at Cornell University and author of the acclaimed book “Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits,” will share his perspective on the piece and Moorman’s place within the historical moment of the 1960s avant-garde. To complement the program, Jason Rosenholtz-Witt, Northwestern Ph.D., candidate in musicology, and his colleagues will perform excerpts from the score and consider the specific challenges presented by the work and Moorman’s unique approach. The program is presented in partnership with Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.
  • Performance: The Avant-Garde and the Politics of Music, 6:30 p.m. free performance by guest cellist Deborah Walker and curator talk, Thursday, March 10, Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive; followed by a 7:30 p.m. ticketed performance in the Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater in the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, 70 Arts Circle Drive. Moorman’s performances, like those of many other members of the avant-garde in the 1960s and 1970s, sometimes reflected the social and political upheavals of the time, including the anti-war, civil rights and feminist movements. Join the Block, the Bienen School of Music, and the Contemporary Music Ensemble for an evening inspired by Moorman’s examples of how music and performance can reflect on and respond to political events. The program will begin at the Block Museum with a performance by international cello improviser Deborah Walker. Walker will perform several works from Moorman’s repertoire. Walker’s performance will be accompanied by a talk by Block Museum curator Corinne Granof on Moorman’s Bomb Cello (c. 1965), an instrument fashioned from a military practice bomb.

The 6:30 p.m. free presentation will be followed by a concert at the Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater in the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. The Contemporary Music Ensemble, joined by members of the new music collective Ensemble Dal Niente, will perform Georg Friedrich Haas’ “In Vain” (2000), a musical response to the rise of the right wing in Europe, and Witold Lutoslawski’s “Chain 1.” The program will be conducted by Bienen School faculty member Alan Pierson, co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Bienen graduate student Vincent Povazsay. This program is presented in partnership with Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music. Concert tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs. For more information, call the Bienen School of Music Concert Management Office at 847-491-5441 or visit To order tickets, call the Bienen School Ticket Office at 847-467-4000 or visit Tickets also will be available at the Ryan Opera Theater’s box office directly prior to the event.

APRIL 2016

  • Creating Nations: Past, Present and Future Symposium, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday April 1, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. Contemporary Native American art making is an act of conversation with the past, construction of the present and envisioning of the future. This symposium will host interdisciplinary discussions focusing on Image, Sound, Text and Body in relation to historical trauma, sovereignty and nation building. The symposium will be presented by the Colloquium on Indigeneity and Native American Studies in partnership with One Book One Northwestern, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Office of the Provost, Center for the Writing Arts, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, International Program Development, Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and the department of African American studies.
  • Symposium: Performed in the Present Tense, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the GYM at 640 Lincoln St. (art theory and practice building), and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive. “Performed in the Present Tense” is a two-day symposium that investigates the contemporary legacy of Charlotte Moorman’s performances and her dedication to creating forums for experimental, collaborative and boundary-breaking artistic practices. The symposium features artists, curators and scholars who have engaged with (re) performance, performance scores and the curating of performance art. April 8: Northwestern graduate students Didier Morelli, Ira Murfin and Elliot Mercer will perform canonical works by Geoff Hendricks, John Cage and Yvonne Rainer. April 9: Presentations will be made by artist-choreographer Brendan Fernandes, curator Travis Chamberlain (The New Museum) and curator Jenny Schlenzka (MoMA PS1). This program is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s departments of art history, art theory and practice, and performance studies; the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities; the School of Communication’s dance program and Mellon Dance Studies.

MAY 2016 

  • Department of Art Theory and Practice MFA Thesis Exhibition: Opening Reception, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 5. This exhibition, which runs from May 5 through June 19,  presents work by Lilli Carré, May Guy, Erin Hayden, Dan Miller and Davis Sprecher in the culmination of their Master of Fine Arts (MFA) studies in the department of art theory and practice at Northwestern University. This exhibition and the associated events and publications are co-organized by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ department of art theory and practice and the Block Museum at Northwestern University. Support provided by the Norton S. Walbridge Fund, the Myers Foundations, the Mary and Leigh Block Endowment Fund and the Alsdorf Endowment. 

JUNE 2016

  • SAVE THE DATE: (time to be announced) Saturday, June 4: ARTS CIRCLE LAUNCH AND FEAST OF ASTONISHMENTS LIVE. Featuring a performance by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, the inflating of late German artist Otto Piene’s sculpture “Grand Rapids Carousel,” a cello “happening” orchestrated by cellists from the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music and the Chicago area; and participatory Fluxus performances. This program is presented in partnership with Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. 


  • Northwestern MFA Open Studios, 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5, Locy Hall, 1940 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus. Meet and greet 10 Northwestern student artists will be exhibiting their work in a series of former geological laboratories at Locy Hall. Participating artists include Lama Altakruri, Lilli Carré, Dan Miller, Max Guy, Erin Hayden, Craig Neeson, Kentaro Kumanomido, Sara Milkes, David Sprecher and Titus Wonsey. Snacks and beverages will be available. Parking is free. 


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Hours and locations available online.

  • Victoria Martinez, “Wizard Can” exhibition, April 1 through April 30, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Victoria Martinez explores chance and intuition by presenting a combination of found patterns from the urban environment and soft household items that are transformed into fresh perspectives in the form of installation, painting, collage, sculpture and fiber art. Incorporating bed sheets, scarves, tablecloths, hand painted produce signs, found cassette tapes, old clothing from the artist’s apartment, scraps from her childhood home in the Pilsen neighborhood, thrift stores and local marketplaces in surrounding communities, Martinez attempts a reawakening visual experience asking: “How do nostalgic objects become a monument?” The exhibition and an opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 1 are free and open to the public. 


Northwestern University’s Charles Deering Library is located at 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus. Library hours and locations are available online.

  • Will Eisner Week Talk, “Will Eisner: Pioneering Cartoonist, Visionary Educator,” 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, Northwestern University Library, Main Library, New Book Nook, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. Comics historian Gene Kannenberg, Jr., will present an hourlong illustrated look at Eisner's work and legacy: the development of comic art into both a literary form and a tool for education. Widely regarded as the "Father of the Graphic Novel," cartoonist Will Eisner spent his entire career chasing the “Next Big Idea” -- and usually finding it. With a body of work encompassing some of the earliest American comic books, “The Spirit” Sunday newspaper supplements, U.S. Army preventative maintenance manuals, one of the very first graphic novels, and a small library of books on comics theory and practice, Eisner influenced several generations of artists and educators. (Note: The library also will feature a small exhibit of comics and books by and about Eisner, from March 1 through March 7, in its New Book Nook located at the end of the main corridor, near periodicals.)
  • Charlotte’s Scene: Archives of the Avant-Garde at Northwestern Libraries,” through July 17, Charles Deering Library, Lobby. Charlotte Moorman electrified the avant-garde scene in 1960s New York with her experimental approaches to music, performance and pure spectacle. While Moorman, whose archive lives in Northwestern’s Deering Library, is the subject of A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,” a major installation at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. Deering Library’s “Charlotte’s Scene” exhibit explores the contemporary avant-garde scene before and during her most prolific output. Drawn from the archives of John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jim McWilliams and others (all held by Northwestern’s Music Library and Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections), these objects and images illuminate a time when artists rebelled against the rigidity of postwar culture by challenging -- perhaps even rewriting-- the definitions of art.
  • Making Connections: Unique Gifts to Northwestern’s Transportation Library, through April 15, Charles Deering Library, Third Floor. Libraries build their holdings deliberately and painstakingly to help researchers make connections between ideas -- but sometimes the “aha” moment is the result of serendipity, when a collection contributed by a donor yields an unexpected insight, clue or treasure no library could have acquired otherwise. Northwestern's Transportation Library is the happy recipient of many collections donated by industry executives, transportation experts, enthusiasts and historians. This exhibit offers a peek inside these collections, and explores the possibilities of the connections yet to be discovered at the intersection of benefactors and researchers.​ Among the exhibit’s highlights are handmade wooden buses from the William Luke Transportation Collection held by the Northwestern University Transportation Library.
  • African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean: Culture, Resistance, and Survival,” through March 28, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Main Library, 5E. This exhibit about the African Diaspora in the Atlantic World illustrates aspects of the history, culture and religion of African descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean. Here the viewer can see a few of the diverse materials archived by the Herskovits collection related to this subject, such as monographs, academic journals, photography books, sound recordings, historical documents, biographies and many others. 

Established in 1954, the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University is the largest separate Africana collection in existence. 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. The Herskovits Library staff also serves regional, national and international scholars as well. Reference assistance is available in the Herskovits Library from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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