Spring Break –> Chicago V
13 March 2018
Still full from our big breakfast, we decided to make our way towards the Museum of Contemporary Art through the increasing snowfall and cold wind. Just before crossing the Michigan Avenue Bridge, we stopped into Fannie Mae’s to enjoy a chocolate each, courtesy of Fr. N. Warmed by the chocolate shop, we continued across the bridge headed towards the museum.
I spotted a giant inflatable Guinness in the distance, and it being so close to St. Patrick’s Day, I was determined to get a picture of it. Lucky for me, it happened to be right next to Tribune Tower with its stones from around the world, so we stopped to observe and take some pictures. I made sure to touch the stone from Minnesota, as well as the piece of the Old General Post Office in Dublin (the pieces from various temples in Asia were the most interesting to me, though, especially because that was our current unit in my Non-Western Art History class).
Entering the MCA through the gift shop, we were met with a massive sculpture of a cat skeleton: Felix by Maurizio Cattelan. We quickly dropped off our coats in the coatcheck and entered the lower level exhibit, which was interesting, but did not contain many pieces that I particularly liked – the Albert Oehlen piece Auch Einer was probably my favorite.
Unbeknownst to me earlier that day, I would leave the MCA with a new favorite artist and inspiration. As we ventured up into the museum, one of the mezzanine levels contained the work of Chicago native Paul Heyer. I was instantly drawn to his piece Drinking Water (Cowboy). His series of cloud-scapes featuring black images of leaves, a dog and its paw prints, the words “every day is halloween” felt strangely familiar and comfortable. After the show, I searched for more of his art online and found even more that I loved. It’s difficult to put into more meaningful words, but his work just speaks to me.
Continuing to the top floor, we reached a large exhibition surveying the work of Howardena Pindell, spanning five decades of her career and across mediums. I’m fairly predictable, so it’s obvious that I was drawn to this early painting of a skeleton. I expected more work in this vein, but as I progressed through the exhibit, I was surprised with each new piece I encountered. Pindell certainly didn’t lock herself into a single medium or technique!
Walking from room to room, I was astounded by the sheer amount of work that went into each piece; most were massive, made up of small hole-punch pieces individually drawn on or placed on the surface. She experimented with materials, multiples, color, imagery – everything. I was very intrigued by her “video drawings”, comprised of arrows and numbers placed with intention and charged with some secret knowledge of the artist, but I enjoyed most of her Autobiography pieces even more. Here, she would take a photo or postcard and elongate it, cutting it into pieces, spreading them out, and filling in the gaps with paint. This distorts the image in a curious way, making you question what exactly you’re looking at, reminding me of the failed panoramic photos I’ve taken.
We finished viewing the Pindell exhibit and met outside, where Fr. N mentioned she was a visiting professor while he was in grad school and had personally given critique of his work – I would be so intimidated having an artist of her level critiquing my art!
After a necessary jaunt in the museum gift shop, which I could have easily spent $5000 in if given the opportunity, we decided to split up for the evening. Fr. N said he needed some time to digest what he had seen that day. Us students needed to get something to digest, as well, but in the form of milkshakes and Italian beef sandwiches at Portillo’s. I easily ate my daily allowance of calories there, so the long walk back to the bus stop was somewhat welcome despite the cold. We boarded, and headed back to Hyde Park for another relaxing night at the Norbertine house.