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Block Museum Presents "Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey"

Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic JourneyEVANSTON, Ill. --- Full-scale figurative collages, gigantic felted trees and an immersive environment will transform Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art this fall when it presents “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.”

Organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the exhibition is the first U.S. survey for Wangechi Mutu, a contemporary African artist and sculptor who has achieved great global acclaim for her works in a diverse range of artistic media.  

The comprehensive exhibition featuring her thought-provoking and rich imagery opens Sept. 19 and runs through Dec. 7 at the Block Museum, the show’s sole Midwest region venue. Mutu is best known for large-scale collages depicting powerful hybrid female figures in lush, otherworldly landscapes. Many of her most iconic works are included in “A Fantastic Journey,” which features more than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present.

The New York Times describes the exhibit as “magnetic…visually ravishing” art that is “at what has to be some kind of peak moment.” [Click to read more]

Red Decade Exhibit Reflects Future of Block Museum  

northwesternEVANSTON, Ill. --- With a widely-acclaimed exhibit recently concluded, "The Left Front: Radical Art in the 'Red Decade,' 1929-1940," and an eagerly-anticipated new exhibition coming this fall, "Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey," the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is on a roll.

In its five-month run, “The Left Front” showcased the Block’s new approach to audience engagement, with the Northwestern University museum bringing in practitioners from across campus and the world for lectures, performances and conversations about issues of the past that matter today.

“The exhibit and its related programs set the tone for the museum's expanded vision,” said Lisa Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director. “Emphasizing interdisciplinary connections between art, history and ideas, the Block is growing partnerships on and off campus and expanding its vision for what engagement can look like.”  [Read the full press release here]


The Left Front exhibition receives 2014 Award of Merit by the American Association for State and Local History  

aaslhNASHVILLE, TN—June 2014—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is the recipient of an Award of Merit from the AASLH Leadership in History Awards for the exhibit The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929-1940. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 69th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. 

This year, AASLH is proud to confer seventy-seven national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2014 AASLH Annual Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday, September 19. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel. [Read the full press release here]

Block Museum hosts free Artists’ Congress on Evanston campus May 17

Artists CongressSocially and politically-engaged Chicago area artists, scholars from across disciplines, students and activists convened on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus in mid-May to address contemporary issues of art and social change and to ponder historical questions that still resonate today.

Organized in conjunction with the University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s exhibition “The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-1940,” this groundbreaking public forum re-imagined meetings of the 1930s American Artists Congress, and takes Left Front member Louis Lozowick’s question "What Should Revolutionary Artists Do Today?” as its inspiration. [Read the entire story here]

Samantha Topol joins the Block Museum to support engagement and donor relations

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is pleased to announce the appointment of Samantha Topol as Manager of Grants and Donor Engagement. In addition to building the museum’s relationships with foundations, Topol will work in close collaboration with the museum’s new engagement department, designing programs that broaden the museum’s network and activate its current base of supporters. This newly-defined role reflects The Block Museum’s expanded vision of museum engagement and interest in building greater connection among all of its stakeholders.

Topol brings to the Block Museum a rich and diverse skill set, including 10 years as a writer, editor and programmer, as well as significant fundraising and project management expertise. Recently, for example, Topol developed and directed the summer 2013 programs for Spontaneous Interventions at the Chicago Cultural Center, and coordinated the exhibition’s Chicago reinstallation after its debut in Venice, where it was the official US representation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennial. Her contributions as a writer and editor in the field include essays on contemporary art, architecture and design in Theorizing Visual Studies, Art Lies, The Believer, and The Architect’s Newspaper, as well as editorial management of numerous exhibition catalogues and the website redesign of the internationally recognized magazine, Domus. A dual degree holder from the School of the Art Institute, Topol lends an in-depth knowledge of the Chicago area arts and cultural landscape to this position, integrated with an investment in the role of institutions in creating a vibrant arts ecology in the city. [Read the entire story here]

Block Names First Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs

Curator Dr. Kathleen Bickford Berzock will join the Block Museum from the Art Institute of Chicago

Kathleen Bickford BerzockThe Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is pleased to announce that Dr. Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Curator of African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, has accepted the position of Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Dr. Berzock will assume her new role at the Block on January 20, 2014. Dr. Berzock will play a leading role in making the Block a dynamic site for exhibitions that look broadly at the visual arts across cultures and time periods and that draw on the unique resources of Northwestern University, including its collections, faculty, and students.

Berzock says she is excited to be joining the Block Museum and Northwestern University. “The Block Museum is poised to play a major role as an ambassador for groundbreaking research and as a laboratory for the innovative work of its faculty and students. I bring the skills of an experienced museum professional and as an Africanist art historian to my new role at the Block, coupled with an openness to multiple perspectives and diverse voices that will enrich the Block’s approach to presenting art from around the world.”  [Read the entire story here]

Block Names Associate Director of Engagement and Curator of Public Practice 

Bielak new Associate Director of EngagementThe Block Museum has appointed Susy Bielak its first Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice.

Bielak, a practicing artist who most recently served as Associate Director of Public and Interpretive Programs at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, will develop interdisciplinary programming that connects the Block’s art exhibitions, permanent collection, and online endeavors to the world beyond the museum. Bielak will also lead initiatives engaging the Block as a teaching museum and host for cross-disciplinary and civic dialogue—furthering the Block’s mission to use art as a springboard for exploring issues and ideas.

Bielak will draw upon her extensive experience as a university educator and arts administrator as she forges innovative collaborations both within and outside Northwestern. In addition, she will oversee the Block’s communication strategies and enhance its use of social media to encourage audience participation.

“Susy brings a breadth of experience in engaging diverse audiences,” said Lisa Graziose Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director. “Her appointment reflects the Block Museum’s commitment to bringing artists, the Northwestern community, and the public together in a meaningful dialogue.” [Read the entire story here]


What is Curation Now? Block Director Talks with the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune interviews Lisa Graziose Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director, about what it means to be a curator.  [Read the article]

Block Cinema Director in New City’s Film 50

Mimi Brody, the Block’s Pick-Laudati Curator of Film and Director of Block Cinema, makes the list of Chicago’s “screen gems.” [Read the article]