Socially engaged art, by means of its transformative practice, is shaping today's institutions and the very culture of now. And in a city famous for both its physical and political structures, few creative communities are as deeply intertwined with a city's framework as those in Chicago. This volume focuses on how artists and others have worked with, within, and sometimes in opposition to large Chicago institutions, such as public schools, universities, libraries, archives, museums, and other civic bodies. Drawing from a broad range of interdisciplinary sources, it explores the far-reaching effect of socially motivated art on urban life. It grounds recent history within a longer arc of civic self-fashioning, from the Columbian Exposition of 1893 to Jane Addams' Hull House to John Dewey's legacy in arts education. The collection also examines the relationship between the city's image and the types of artistic work that flourish within its boundaries and resonate far beyond them.
Stephanie Smith is deputy director and chief curator at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art and an editor of the international art journal Afterall. She is the author of Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art and Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art.