Artists in Residence


Begun in 2011, our Artist in Residence program brings artists and audiences together, reaching out to communities all over the city. Each year, the MCA invites an artist (or artists) to the museum for extended periods of time to explore their practice, meet new people, use new materials, and experience life in a new location. The results are often provocative and wide-ranging—from mining the museum’s history to populating public spaces throughout Chicagoland with helium-filled balloons. You never know what you’ll see or learn.

2015–16 eighth blackbird

Six smiling people sport dark-colored formal wear

The next time you take the MCA stairs, listen for eighth blackbird rehearsing in the third-floor gallery; the music carries to all four floors. In their absence, a performance projected on the gallery walls envelopes you with sights and sounds

Photo: Luke Ratray

From September 2015 to June 2016, Eighth Blackbird, a Chicago-based music ensemble, takes up residence in the MCA galleries. For the first time, the Grammy Award–winning group brings its private rehearsal work into the public arena, preparing new compositions live in the galleries. When the musicians are away, video and audio provide viewers with inside access to their process of making music.

2013–14 Goshka Macuga

Portrait of a woman with long brown hair, blunt bangs, red lipstick and dressed in black standing in an exhibition at the MCA.

Goshka Macuga

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

Following her critically acclaimed solo exhibition at MCA Chicago earlier this year, Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga returns to Chicago to embark on a yearlong project as the museum's 2013 artist in residence. Macuga's MCA exhibition, the first ever survey of her work, emphasized the investigative quality of her artistic practice. Much of her work is rooted in historical inquiry and current affairs, and these interests also influence her MCA Audience Engagement Residency.

2012 Martin Creed

A glowing neon-light sculpture spells out the word "THINGS."

Martin Creed, Work No. 845 (THINGS), 2007, Multicolored neon, 6 in. (15.2 cm), Collection of Toby Webster, Glasgow, Scotland

© MCA Chicago

In works that range from intimate poetic objects to large-scale neon signs, Martin Creed (British, b. 1968) reevaluates the status of art with a generous sense of humor. As part of a yearlong residency at MCA Chicago, Creed brings his avant-garde sensibility to the building and the city. In each month of 2012, Creed unveils an artwork in a different space of the MCA, progressing upward through four floors of the building and extending his work outward to the sculpture garden and plaza and into the city of Chicago. Some works live as sculptures in the museum's public spaces, and some projects are site specific—for instance, murals in the atrium and café. Others still, such as a work that takes the form of crumpled balls of paper placed in each of the museum's public spaces, play with the notion of the carefully curated object. Extending his project beyond the MCA, Creed—who fronts a rock band—explores the city's vibrant music scene as well.

2011 Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford

Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

The Mark Bradford Project connects MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Mark Bradford with different Chicago communities to interact around the theme of the creative process. Over the course of a year, Bradford serves as a catalyst for community engagement projects and ongoing discussions, including connecting Bradford with Lindblom Math and Science Academy, as well as teenagers in Chicago Public Library’s YOUMedia program. The theme of mapping, which Bradford explores in many of his paintings, serves as a unifying thread for both projects.