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Visual Arts at Northwestern in June

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

  • Explore Northwestern University arts/humanities during free June 4 outdoor celebration
  • Block’s Charlotte Moorman exhibits explores her life, work, influence and private world
  • Deering Library show focuses on four University archives related to Moorman and her times

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Since mid-January -- when the Charlotte Moorman exhibition opened -- visitors have been drawn to Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art to experience the museum’s continuing homage to the musician, performance artist and advocate of the avant-garde. 

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,” an auxiliary exhibition that offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world, through July 17, in the Katz Gallery.

A suggested time to consider a visit to the Block to discover why Moorman was called the “Joan of Arc of New Music” and the “Topless Cellist” would be during Northwestern’s upcoming June 4 Arts Circle Celebration.

The daylong celebration -- which is free and open to the public -- will feature members of the renowned Trisha Brown Dance Company dancing on multiple rooftops around Northwestern’s Arts Circle, their classic work “Roof Piece” visually uniting the architecture of the circle and the arts across academic disciplines.

Other festivities will include more than 150 cellists who will infiltrate the campus in small groups with spontaneous mini-concerts before gathering for a massive performance on the Arts Circle lawn. 

Guests on that day also will encounter the towering “Grand Rapids Carousel” (1979), a 40-foot-long inflatable sculpture with multiple, lifelike arms and legs by the late German artist Otto Piene.

From sunrise to sunset, as part of the Arts Circle Celebration at Northwestern, the department of art theory and practice will host artists Aaron Hughes and Amber Ginsburg’s participatory “Tea Project,” highlighting debate over extralegal detention via “Tea Performances” and “Tea Teach-Ins.” 

These and other June 4 events mark a daylong celebration of Northwestern’s Arts Circle -- located on the southeast portion of the Evanston campus -- which welcomes patrons, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the larger community year-round to world-class exhibitions and performances.

Representing the next chapter in Northwestern’s long history of arts excellence, the Arts Circle is a geographical location and a state of mind, embracing arts programming across the University’s many disciplines. 

The June 4 celebration will feature world-famous artists as well as students from Northwestern and more than 50 other Chicago-area and North Shore schools.

The comprehensive online calendar, which launched in early 2016, is searchable by genre, venue and date and is making it an essential destination for the arts at Northwestern.

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, 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 is 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. 


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 June 2016 screenings is available online.


  • “LISTEN, my heart, to the whispers of the world with which it makes love to you,” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2, FREE. “LISTEN, my heart,..” is a collection of audio compositions reflecting on the soundscape of the Indian subcontinent. The works are presented in a darkened cinema hall as a 5.1 surround soundtrack with no projected images. Curators Alexis Bhagat and Laurent Rosati describe the experience as one in which the “cinema screen is a window for shared dreams. Our soundscape program begins high in the Himalayas, at the sacred shrine of Muktinath, with its one hundred springs of water. From Himalayan peaks, the water of the Yamuna flows to the plains.” 

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


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?”, through 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. Note:This exhibit contains adult sexual content. Free and open to the public.
  • “Landscape of Subjective” by Taehoon Kim, June 24 through Aug. 12, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Korean-born and Chicago-based artist Taehoon Kim’s work evokes a place between the subconscious and the evolution of substance. His summer exhibition will feature modified hybrid and abstract forms of creatures. Visitors will have an opportunity to explore and feel the interaction through the disparate group of individual work. Large-scale sculptural ceramic pieces will be displayed on the floor with paintings and video projection work. Wall pieces also will be displayed to make the gallery full of the playful and whimsical energy. Kim has exhibited his work in juried and invitational shows throughout the U.S. as well as in Japan and South Korea. The exhibition and an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, June 24, are 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.

  • “Dawes Delivers the Vote: A Glimpse at Elections 1896-1924,” June 13 through Nov. 11, on the third floor of Deering Library. The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections will honor the life and career of former Evanston resident and U.S. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes. While serving under President Calvin Coolidge, Dawes (1865-1951) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 for his role in settling reparations after World War I. He later served as ambassador to England from 1929 to 1931. This exhibit includes materials from the Charles Gates Dawes Archive, donated to the library by Dawes or by his family after his death.
  • “Textual 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. 
  • 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.

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