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Visual Arts at Northwestern in May

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

  • Charlotte Moorman exhibit at Block Museum explores the artist’s life, work and influence
  • Block’s ‘Don’t Throw Anything Out’ offers a rare glimpse of Moorman’s private world
  • Deering Library showcases Charlotte Moorman and its Shakespeare holdings
  • Dittmar Gallery to host Department of Art Theory and Practice Senior Show ‘NUDES?’

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Visitors from near and far continue to flock to Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art to experience the museum’s continuing homage to Charlotte Moorman -- a musician, performance artist and advocate of the avant-garde.

Among the May events planned to help the public discover why Moorman was called the “Joan of Arc of New Music” and the “Topless Cellist” are four Block Cinema screenings that will include in-person appearances by Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman on May 12; director Howard Weinberg on May 13; and archivist John Klacsmann on May 26 and May 27.

The Block Museum’s Main Gallery exhibition, “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. The show examines Moorman’s 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.

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. 

Details on these and other programs follow. Information on upcoming arts and humanities events also is available on the new Arts Circle website. Click here


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.


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. 

  • Lake Cream: Department of Art Theory and Practice, 2016 MFA Thesis Exhibition, May 5 through June 19, Block Museum’s Alsdorf Gallery. This exhibition and the associated events and publications are the culmination of the course of study leading to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Candidates engage in intensive research during their tenure in the department of art theory and practice as they develop their individual art-making practices in a climate of rigorous critical thinking. The exhibition will present work by Lilli Carré, Max Guy, Erin Hayden, Dan Miller and David Sprecher. It was co-organized by Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice and the Block Museum. Support was provided by the Norton S. Walbridge Fund; The Cary Lane Art Supply Fund, courtesy of Dr. Madeleine Wing Adler; Myers Foundations; the Mary and Leigh Block Endowment Fund; and the Alsdorf Endowment. The exhibition and an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 5, are free and open to the public.


  • Guided Exhibition Tours, 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The Block Museum offers free, docent-led afternoon tours on weekends that focus on the bold and barrier-breaking performances of Charlotte Moorman and others who participated in the Avant-Garde festivals. No reservation necessary. More information online


  • Performance: Okkyung Lee, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at the Block Museum. Okkyung Lee, a New York-based artist and South Korea native, has created a body of work blurring genre boundaries through collaborations and compositions while breaking away from the traditional cello performance techniques. Her music draws from noise and extended techniques, jazz, Western classical, and Korean traditional and popular music. The artist, whose work parallels Charlotte Moorman in its innovation and experimental scope, will perform live in conjunction with the Block Museum’s “A Feast of Astonishments” exhibition, which runs through July 17.
  • Block Cinema: Sonic Celluloid, 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, Block Museum of Art. Sonic Celluloid is a collaboration of WNUR, Northwestern University’s student-run, non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM), and Block Cinema. Now in its 14th year, Sonic Celluloid is a special event that features musicians performing live with their own original compositions or improvised scores to silent and experimental films of their choosing. This year's performers include Zs, Wesley Levers and Northwestern University artist-in-residence Walter Jesse Kitundu.
  • Storytelling Performance, “Shoes of Your Choice,” 3:15 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, Northwestern University Library’s Main Lobby, 1970 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus, and 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, Evanston Public Library’s Community Meeting Room, 1703 Orrington Ave., in downtown Evanston. In conjunction with the Evanston Literary Festival (May 11-18) this two-night storytelling event will recreate Alison Knowles’ classic Fluxus work “Shoes of Your Choice” (1963). Performers and audience members will be invited to share the stories of the shoes on their feet. This participatory work was performed at Charlotte Moorman’s 4th Annual Avant-Garde Festival held in Central Park. This program is co-sponsored by the Evanston Public Library and the Northwestern University Library. 
  • A Feast of Astonishments series, “The Illinois Parables,” (Deborah Stratman, 2016, United States, 16mm, 60 minutes) 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12. “The Illinois Parables” is an experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism (the belief in a savior or redeemer) and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois. The state is a convenient structural ruse, allowing its histories to become allegories that explore how we are shaped by conviction and ideology. The film utilizes reenactment, archival footage, observational shooting, inter-titles and voiceover to tell its stories and is an extension of previous works in which the director questioned foundational American tenants. In person: Director Deborah Stratman 
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, Nam June Paik & TV LAB: License to Create” (Howard Weinberg, 2016 /work-in-progress, United States, digital file, 95 minutes) 7 p.m. Friday, May 13. Long before the Internet revolution, there was the video revolution. Artists, including Nam June Paik, Bill Viola, William Wegman. and the pioneering collective TVTV (Top Value Television), pushed the boundaries and possibilities of television at the TV LAB, a division of Channel 13 / WNET that broadcast experimental work from 1972-1984. Initially supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, the TV LAB brought together creative artists from all disciplines to innovate and embrace the revolutionary potential of television. Weinberg’s documentary offers a fascinating look at a rare moment in time when the confluence of traditional media and experimental practice led to a range of groundbreaking work. In person: Director Howard Weinberg 
  • Department of Art History Elizabeth and Todd Warnock Lecture Series, “Saloni Mathur: “A Fragile Inheritance: Reading Art Criticism in India,” 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, Block Museum’s Pick-Laudati Auditorium. This lecture will turn to the Indian subcontinent to consider alternative and radical possibilities for art criticism as an intellectual practice. Mathur is Associate Professor, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Museum Studies, at the University of California, Los Angeles. This program is organized by the department of art history. A reception will follow.
  • Symposium, “Black Feminist Futures, 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 20 and 8:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Block Museum of Art. The two-day symposium will trace black feminist theory and practice in and beyond the place of study. Focusing on intergenerational black feminist dialogue as a critical intellectual and social force, 16 leading scholars will participate, including social justice activist Cathy Cohen, and Kara Keeling, whose cultural work on the implications of Black women’s (in)visibility in cinema has been critical to rethinking the production of black cultural politics and alternative forms of society. Presented by the Black Feminist Theory Reading Group, the symposium is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Gender Studies Program and the department of religious studies. More information available online.
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, “METAMEDIA: Film Journals and Diaries of Jud Yalkut,” “Us Down By the Riverside” (1966, United States, 16mm, 3 minutes), “METAMEDIA” (1966-71 United States, 16mm, 50 minutes), “John Cage Mushroom Hunting In Stony Point” (1972-73, United States, 16mm, 8 minutes), 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26. Block Cinema welcomes archivist John Klacsmann from New York’s Anthology Film Archives for the first of two shows highlighting the importance of this legendary organization. This program focuses on intermedia artist and video pioneer Jud Yalkut, whose work fused interests in music, poetry, abstraction, the medium specificity and textural qualities of video, and the electronic manipulation of images and sound. In addition to being a pivotal force in the avant-garde scene of the 1960s and ‘70s, Yalkut was a frequent participant in Charlotte Moorman’s avant-garde festivals. “METAMEDIA” and “John Cage…” were both preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. In person: Film archivist John Klacsmann 
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, “Highlights from Charlotte Moorman's Avant Garde Festivals” (Various directors, 1943-69, United States, 16mm and 35mm, approximately 70 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, May 27. In this second program of works from Anthology Film Archives, archivist John Klacsmann presents a rich and eclectic selection of works featured in Charlotte Moorman’s avant-garde festivals. The program includes films by legendary experimental makers Robert Breer, Hollis Frampton and Nam June Paik (in collaboration with Jud Yalkut), along with rarely screened works by Francis Lee, David Brooks, Piero Heliczer, Amy Greenfield and Storm DeHirsch. In person: Film archivist John Klacsmann


A collaboration between the School of Communication and the Block Museum of Art, Block Cinema provides Northwestern, the North Shore and Chicago with a quality venue for repertory and festival cinema. Block Cinema is housed in the Block Museum’s Pick-Laudati Auditorium. Information on Block Cinema May 2016 screenings is available online

Information follows on other Northwestern arts events taking place on the Evanston campus at the Dittmar Memorial Gallery, University Library and Herskovits Library. All are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.


For information on upcoming lectures and events sponsored by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences department of art theory and practice, visit

  • Off-campus Visiting Artist Talk, “Sounding the Margins,” by Candice Hopkins, 3 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 4 West Burton Place, Chicago. Candice Hopkins is a curator and writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also is a curatorial advisor for Documenta 14, opening in 2017. Hopkins has held curatorial positions at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, National Gallery of Canada, the Western Front and the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre. Her writings on history, art and vernacular architecture have been published by MIT Press, BlackDog Publishing, Revolver Press, New York University, the Fillip Review and the National Museum of the American Indian, among others. In 2014 she received the Joan Lowndes Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for excellence in critical and curatorial writing. This lecture is presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation. It is made possible by support from the Jerrold Loebl Fund for the Arts and the Myers Foundations. This event is free, but an RSVP is required. To pre-register, visit the Graham Foundation website. 


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.

  • Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Department of Art Theory and Practice Senior Show: “NUDES?”, May 12 through June 18; opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18. “NUDES?” is a group exhibition that features the vulnerabilities of six senior undergraduates in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ department of art theory and practice. Occupied with the act of uncovering, these student-artists will present the scars, memories, contradictions and consequences of putting it all out there for the world to see. The show will feature the work of Northwestern seniors Darien Wendell, Olivia Peace, Diana Chang, Michael Gross, An Phung and Lynn Lochlynn. Free and open to the public.


Northwestern University’s Charles Deering Library is located at 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus. The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies is located on the fifth level of the Main Library’s East Tower, 1970 N. Campus Drive. Library hours and locations are available online.

The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University, established in 1954, 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.

  • Public viewing of the John Singer Sargent portrait of Mrs. Dorothy Allhusen, May 5 through May 19, third floor reading room of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Deering Library, 1937 Sheridan Road, Northwestern’s Evanston campus. A treasured oil painting by renowned artist John Singer Sargent -- one of America’s greatest portraitists -- has been fully restored and will be on display at Northwestern University Libraries. After the special display the painting will be placed back in climate-controlled storage until the anticipated renovation of Deering Library. This year’s restoration of Sargent’s portrait of Mrs. Dorothy Allhusen was made possible thanks to a $9,000 grant by The Alumnae of Northwestern University, an all-volunteer group of women that has given more than $7.5 million in fellowships, scholarships, and awards to faculty and students during the past 100 years. The Deering Library is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
  • Page & Stage: Shakespeare at Northwestern Libraries, through Sept. 2, University Library. Four centuries after the passing of the world’s most famous author, it’s tempting to put the man on a pedestal -- sometimes quite literally. But William Shakespeare didn’t write from a lofty tower; his relatable themes, colorful characters, sharp satire and bawdy jokes have always marked him a man of the people. Which is why connecting with Shakespeare today shouldn’t be difficult or uncommon. Join Northwestern Libraries as we revel in our many holdings -- from rare books to theatre archives to our general collection -- that give students and faculty different ways to discover, learn from and re-tell Shakespeare’s tales.
  • “Textural Cultures in Islamic Africa,” through June 18, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Main Library fifth floor, east tower. This exhibit of imagery from Arabic manuscripts in the Herskovits collection accompanied “Sacred Word: The Changing Meanings in Textual Cultures of Islamic Africa,” a recent symposium dedicated to the memory of Professor John O. Hunwick (1936-2015). The symposium was held April 21-22 and was sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) and the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University, and the Center for African Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Information on the recent symposium is available online.

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