Antarctica, the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, and Jungle Cats Star in These Must-See Art Events and Exhibitions

Photo courtesy of Elliot Ross

The next few weeks in Chicago bring all sorts of exciting, probing, and moving art events, from an immersive installation inspired by Antarctica’s largest ice shelf to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Installation view, Ellen Berkenblit: Leopard’s Lane, MCA Chicago, May 4–November 24, 2019. Photo courtesy of Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Colors of the New World: Indigenous American Pigments at the Art Institute of Chicago
More than just an aesthetic choice, colors used in artwork speak to histories of power dynamics, cultural trends, resource distribution, and much more. During this special tour of the museum’s Ancient Americas and European art collections, you’ll learn about the lives of indigenous pigments like cochineal, annatto, and indigo.
Details: November 21

Requiem: A White Wanderer at Experimental Sound Studio
The local artist duo known as Luftwerk presents a new immersive installation inspired by the Larsen-C, Antarctica’s largest ice shelf, created in collaboration with sound artist Katherine Young. Enter their space and be confronted by shadowy, illuminated objects as well as a chilling composition based on seismic data from a trillion-ton iceberg that calved from the shelf in 2017.
Details: November 22

“Atrium Project” by Ellen Berkenblit
Don’t miss one of the best murals in the city before it vanishes this month: Leopard’s Lane by Berkenblit, which matches a vivid cat with an abstracted landscape. It’s a fantastic, larger-than-life pitting of human against animal kingdoms—plus a good backdrop for a selfie, of course.
Details: Through November 24

The Restoration of Chicago’s Union Station at Glessner House
This year, architects Graham, Anderson, Probst & White completed a $22 million, three-year restoration of Union Station’s Great Hall. Learn about how they remained faithful to the original 1920s design, with its grand skylight and 24 ceiling chandeliers, at this lecture.
Details: December 3

“Firelines: Midwestern Prairie Restoration” at Newberry Library
Photographer Jill Metcoff has spent 15 years observing the burning of prairies across the Midwest—controlled flames that clear space for healthy plant growth. In this free talk, she will be joined by ecologist Mike Mossman as they explore her images and process, as well as the significance of fire to this endangered ecosystem.
Details: December 3

Photo courtesy of Jill Metcoff/Facebook

“When the Earth Trembled, or the Strength of Love” at the Block Museum of Art
Check out this series of short films that focuses on reels that exist only as fragments—each has weathered time, nature, and other elements. Dating to the early 1900s, they range from glimpses of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to an early home video of sorts.
Details: December 6

“American Backyard” at Filter Photo
See who and what photographer Elliot Ross saw when he visited the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017, as debates over the construction of a border wall waged in Washington. Images of the landscape and those residing in the borderlands will be on view in this solo exhibition, representing 2,000 miles of journeying.
Details: December 6

The 30th International Small Print Show
Here’s the perfect opportunity to really grow that salon-style wall you’ve always wanted. On view will be works on paper by 75 artists, all on sale to fit every budget, from etchings of the natural world to surreal photorealistic pictures.
Details: December 7 and 8

“Ando: Museums & Galleries” at Wrightwood 659
This is your last week to catch this exhibition by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Tadao Ando, from his photographs and prints to a scale model of Naoshima island. All in, of course, a mesmerizing building designed by Ando himself.
Details: December 9