Ping Pong, Civil Rights & Instagram Star in This Season’s Most Captivating Art Events

Photo courtesy of Comfort Film/Facebook

A new season brings forth a fresh new wave of exciting art events and openings across Chicago. From ping pong and Civil Rights to Instagram and Dutch textiles, topics run the gamut and offer awe-inspiring takes across a variety of mediums.

Jon Chambers, Diathermy, 2019/Courtesy of the International Museum of Surgical Science

What My Eyes Behold Is Simultaneous at SITE Galleries
The dynamics of ping pong take centerstage in this solo exhibition by filmmaker Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, who will present multi-layered film and sound installations that recreate this game. Except…no players feature here—just haunting, enigmatic traces of some distant exchanges.
Details: March 28

The Practical Application of Networks to the Body at International Museum of Surgical Science
Come see what the museum’s artist-in-residence, Jon Chambers, has been making after spending months deep in the archives researching the spread of electricity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His new media art contemplates today’s information-flooded world, responding to our habits of swiping, tapping, clipping and other screen-based gestures.
Details: March 29

Susan Meiselas Lecture at the Art Institute of Chicago
This is a great opportunity to hear documentary photographer Susan Meiselas speak about her practice, which, over the last few decades, has brought her to Latin America to capture conflicts and human rights issues. A member of Magnum Photos and a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, Meiselas’s work is raw, yet empathetic.
Details: April 4

Vanessa German, A Love Poem to Nia Wilson #2, 2018/Courtesy Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago

This Stillness at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Curator Jamillah Hinson has organized what’s sure to be a dynamic, urgent and thought-provoking group show on Black girlhood and womanhood in America. Artists Judy Bowman, Tracy Crump and Vanessa German all work in some form of assemblage, each creating complex pieces that draw on memory and archives. (Side note: While you’re there, don’t miss the incredible survey of New Zealand artist Susan Te Kahurangi King.)
Details: April 4

Visible at Gene Siskel Film Center
Visit the cafe at the film center to check out this group show of Asian American artists, presented as part of the 24th Annual Asian American showcase of diverse film screenings. From paintings to photographs, the works on view will investigate bits of our world that are often unseen or misunderstood.
Details: April 5

Leonardo Drew, Leonardo Drew in his studio, 2016/Photo by Maki Kawakita/Courtesy of the artist

Leonardo Drew at Smart Museum of Art
Through May 19, the museum is presenting a survey of abstract works by Black artists, including large-scale assemblages by Leonardo Drew. Hear Drew discuss these complex pieces, which are composed of meticulously arranged and painted material like wood and metal.
Details: April 8

Birmingham, Alabama, 1963: Dawoud Bey/Black Star
September, 15, 1963—the day white supremacists and terrorists bombed a Birmingham church, murdering six black children—forever changed the fight for civil rights. On display in this exhibition is renowned photographer Dawoud Bey’s response to mark the 50th anniversary of this tragedy: diptychs that both remind of the lives loss and imagine the possibilities had they not been snatched away.
Details: April 11

Fashion & Fabric: Textiles, Trade & Africa at Richard H. Driehaus Museum
This museum in a Gilded Age mansion is currently hosting a spectacular and ornate exhibition by the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare YBE. His installations incorporate vivid Dutch textiles; in this discussion between the Art Institute’s curator of textiles and historian Kirstin Purtich, unpack the colonial narratives embedded in these fabrics.
Details: April 11

Vlisco Textile, Snakeskin, 1922. Collection of Cooper Hewitt/Courtesy of Smithsonian Design Museum

Video Worship at Comfort Film
How much time have you whiled away scrolling through Instagram and watching videos (be they posts or stories)? Sara Goodman has spent hours doing so, specifically for this special screening. Come for one-and-a-half hours of creative Instagram content by over a dozen artists, which will be projected on a big screen for communal viewing.
Details: April 17

CAKE Art Auction 2019 at 826CHI
Head to this silent auction for good company, drinks, comic readings and a massive trove of alternative comics for sale. Up for grabs: works by figures like Nick Drnaso and Isabella Rotman, with all proceeds benefiting the eponymous Chicago Alternative Comics Expo on June 1 and 2.
Details: April 19