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Visual Arts at Northwestern in July and August

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

  • Visit Block Museum’s Charlotte Moorman exhibition before it closes July 17
  • Dittmar Gallery hosting Taehoon Kim’s ‘Landscape of Subjective’ exhibition
  • Library shows focus on Africa, Charles Dawes, Charlotte Moorman and Shakespeare

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Time is running out to visit the Northwestern University Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s blockbuster exhibition, which pays homage to Charlotte Moorman, the 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,” ends its Evanston campus run on July 17, 2016.

The weekend of July 16-17, the Block will offer free gallery tours of “The Feast of Astonishments” that focus on the bold and barrier-breaking performances of Moorman and others who participated in New York’s Avant-Garde festivals. No reservation necessary. Free Block Museum tote bags will be distributed to visitors who take a tour the final weekend of the Moorman exhibition. 

The Moorman exhibition will soon travel to New York University’s Grey Art Gallery in fall 2016 and to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, in spring and summer 2017. 

The Block’s “A Feast of Astonishments” is the first major exhibition exploring the art and impact of Moorman. The exhibit 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.

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.

The Block Museum will be closed to the public on July 4. It also will be closed from July 18 through Sept. 16, in preparation for the Sept. 17 opening of the following three new fall 2016 exhibitions:


  • “Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera” will be on view in the Main Gallery from Sept. 17 through Dec. 11. An opening celebration will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1. This is the first major solo museum exhibition of photographer Tseng Kwong Chi’s works, which have long sparked the imaginations of younger artists. The exhibition features more than 80 photographs, including well-known works -- such as Tseng’s collaborations with Keith Haring and his “East Meets West” and “Expeditionary” series -- as well as examples from the artist’s archive that have rarely been shown. Born in Hong Kong, educated in Vancouver and Paris, and later based in New York City, Tseng Kwong Chi (1950–1990) produced a large body of witty, playful, performance-based photography that both captured the pivotal downtown Manhattan art and club scenes of the 1980s and reflected the increasingly globalized movement of people across nations and continents. Tseng called himself an “inquisitive traveler, a witness of my time and an ambiguous ambassador.” His works alternately function as witness to his life and community and as wry social commentary, raising critical questions about identity and culture. 
  • “Keep the Shadow, Ere the Substance Fade: Mourning during the AIDS Crisis” will be on view in the Kate Gallery, from Sept. 17 through Dec. 11. During much of the 20th century, death was a private and comparatively silent event. However, during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, a politicized resurgence of highly visible and public acts of mourning emphasized the body ravaged by the virus. In some ways, these practices paralleled the public and material mourning practices of the 19th century. By juxtaposing objects and artworks related to mourning from the Victorian Era -- intricately woven hair works and ornate brooches kept as bodily relics of the deceased -- and during the AIDS crisis, “Keep the Shadow” examines two analogous cultures of bereavement. The exhibition proposes that these historical periods uniquely relied on the materiality of the individual body, and items associated with it, as relics in order to grapple with mortality and persevere in the face of death. The exhibit was curated by 2015-16 Block Museum Graduate Fellow, C.C. McKee. 

Details on the Block’s July exhibitions and other summer 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.


  • “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.


Plan Your Visit

Free and open to all, the Block Museum’s July hours are available 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 Fall 2016 screenings will be available in August online.


For information on upcoming fall 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.

  • “Landscape of Subjective” by Taehoon Kim, 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. 


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.

University Library Exhibitions

Admission to the following exhibits is free and open to the public.

  • “Active Learning about Africa for Kids,” through Sept. 19, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Main Library, 5 East. This selection of materials for and about African children highlights the Herskovits Library’s holdings in children’s literature and culture. Kids learn about the world around them not just by studying, but also, crucially, by participating in activities that help them to analyze situations and synthesize information. Featuring items such as ABC books, activity guides, craft books, song collections and board games, “Active Learning about Africa for Kids” presents a variety of items designed to teach children about Africa through engagement and participation. (Also, check out University Library’s “Teaching Africa: Resources for K-12 Teachers” LibGuide.) 
  • “Dawes Delivers the Vote: A Glimpse at Elections 1896-1924,” through Nov. 11, on the third floor of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. U.S. comptroller, brigadier general, Nobel laureate and Evanston resident Charles Gates Dawes (1865-1951) played many roles in his life, but perhaps he is best known as vice president under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 to 1929. As part of the 150th anniversary of Dawes’ birth, Northwestern Libraries is presenting an exhibit that explores his life as a political force, a fierce campaigner for Republican candidates, and a power player in the administrations of William McKinley, Warren Harding and Coolidge. The exhibit from the Charles G. Dawes Archive in the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections features political correspondence, speeches, and two original editorial cartoons by the famed Chicago Tribune cartoonist John T. McCutcheon. Ephemera from the presidential campaign trail of 1924 shows Democrat John W. Davis and Progressive Party candidate Robert La Follette challenging incumbent Coolidge and his running mate, Dawes. The exhibit includes materials from the Charles Gates Dawes Archive, donated to the library by Dawes or by his family after his death. 
  • 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.
  • 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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