Human beings are natural collectors, be it of souvenirs found on vacations, heirlooms passed down from grandparents, or birthday cards received over the years. The items we hold on to reflect our social, cultural, and personal values. Likewise, museums tell stories by presenting all kinds of collected objects, which reflect the way they prioritize different social and cultural values.
In this Commons Artist Project, Folayemi Wilson and Norman Teague’s Chicago-based, socially focused design studio blkHaUS studios asks if understanding the stories of personal collections can transform the priorities of museums in forming their collections.
Historically, collections in contemporary art museums have preserved and revealed specific art historical lineages. These stories, however, are ultimately influenced by the social and political context in which museums collect. Over the last few years, some have deaccessioned works—a practice of collection care where some objects are routinely removed from their collections—with the specific intent to make room for works by artists whose ideas and art have been left out of the established canon, especially artists of color.
Over the course of the exhibition, blkHaUS brings together Chicago community members and local museums. Through thoughtfully constructed interactive experiences they collate and assess patterns of collecting, inviting audiences to share their personal objects and narratives in the Commons and take part in dialogues around their modular artwork the commons table, focusing on key questions regarding collecting, archives, and museum practice. At the end of the project, the artists share their findings with representatives from the MCA and other local museums to provide tools for museums to better reflect the communities with which they share space.
About The Commons Table Open Project
The Commons Table Open Hours
Bring small items from your personal collection that reflect your community to have them photographed, catalogued, and added to Teague and Wilson's The Commons Collection. Items will be photographed with their owner and recorded into the collection database. Physical objects remain with their owners.
Open hours occur at the MCA on select Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Commons. The photo booth will also be available at each public convening.
Tuesdays, 4-6 pm:
Nov 12, Dec 10, Jan 7, Jan 21, Feb 4, Feb 18
Saturdays, 2-4 pm:
Dec 7, Dec 21, Jan 4, Jan 18, Feb 1, Feb 15, Feb 29
Public Convenings in the Commons
Sun, Nov 17, 11 am-1 pm
CONVERSATIONS ON COLLECTING: FINAL REPORT
Tue, Feb 18, 6-8 pm
About Off-site Convenings
The Commons Table exhibition is structured as an open research model on topics related to collecting, community, and institutional practice. Each exhibition of The Commons Collection is preceded by a conversation that focuses on a question posed by blkHaUS studios. Events take place at sites throughout Chicago and are facilitated by community members whose work is related to these topics.
Wed, Sep 25
Location: An Orange Moon and Tom Robinson Gallery
Conversation Leads: Lynne and Ty McDaniel, owners of An Orange Moon
Curators: Folayemi Wilson and Norman Teague
CONVERSATIONS ON COLLECTING: NATURE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE IN TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY CITIES
Thu, Oct 17
Location: Sherman Park
Conversation Leads: Ann Lui, cofounder of Future Firm
Curator: William Hill, artist and educator
CONVERSATIONS ON COLLECTING: DISABILITY AND PERSPECTIVE
Tue, Dec 10
Location: Arts of Life
Conversation Lead: Bess Williamson, author of Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design
Curator: Adero Knott, founder and CEO of AK Prosthetics
CONVERSATIONS ON COLLECTING: RADICAL FUTURES
Tue, Jan 7
Location: Austin Town Hall
Conversation Lead: Paola Aguirre, artist and founder of Borderless Studio
Curator: Juarez Hawkins with TRACE, Teens Re-Imagining Art, Community & Environment
CONVERSATIONS ON COLLECTING: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN COLLECTORS AND ARTISTS
Tue, Jan 28
Location: Home of Patric McCoy, art collector and environmental chemist
Conversation Lead: Patric McCoy