To all UIC students and faculty convening for the first day of classes this week, we wish you a safe and heartening start to a semester unlike any before. Throughout the summer we’ve been talking with inspiring educators about learning in the pandemic environment. We know the creative and adaptive students and faculty of UIC will turn the challenge of this semester into a dynamic educational opportunity.
Gallery 400 will remain physically closed for the fall semester (August 2020-December 2020). Though we won’t be gathering within the walls of the gallery, we’ve planned programs to engage with artists, art and ideas in the digital realm and physically distanced space. Our robust line-up of programs planned for the Fall include the Fall Voices Lecture Series. Artists Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Kamau Patton, Jessica Labatte, and others will present talks and visit students via Zoom. We are planning an extension of our successful summer online series Pandemic Lessons, as well as other virtual programs that include dialogues, workshops, and performances.
As for exhibitions, in the next few weeks we will debut Nia Easley’s Won’t you be my neighbor? in the gallery’s street facing north windows along Van Buren Street. Nia’s text-based work, presented in Ojibwe, Spanish, English, and Greek, considers the timely questions of place and belonging. On our website, we continue to present Portal: online screenings, which we initiated in April. Portal presents video works by artists who have previously exhibited at the Gallery. Each work streams on the Gallery 400 website for two weeks.
Later in the semester, we plan to make available via online video/3D tours the exhibition Museums of Future Past Times Present: Hatorade Retrograde The Musical by Lise Haller Baggesen. This show had been postponed in the late spring when we had to close the gallery. Even as we face the virus’ uncertain course this fall and winter, we hope to open the physical installation of Museums of Future Past Times… in late fall or winter.
The pandemic has brought with it the devastation of job loss and economic hardship. Gallery 400 has been proud to shift the granting program, Propeller Fund—which we co-administered with our partners Threewalls—to the Propeller Impact Fund, which continues to offer relief grants to artists throughout Chicagoland. Moreover, given the disproportionate impact of the virus and the economic downturn, Propeller Impact Fund explicitly gives priority to ALAANA artists (African descendent, Latinx, Arab, Asian, Native American), d/Deaf and disabled artists, LGBTQ2SIA artists, and gender non-conforming and non-binary artists.
As the uprisings of this summer have pushed the US to a reckoning with anti-Blackness, Gallery 400 has redoubled its commitment to racial justice. Gallery 400 is a partner in the Racial Justice Committee of the School of Art & Art History, which has recently endorsed the UIC Student Demands Letter written by the UIC Black Student Union and UIC Black Graduate Student Association and the UIC International Students’ Statement of Demands written by UIC International Students Supporting Each Other (ISSEO). Internally, Gallery 400 continues to examine its work culture to divest from whiteness. The Gallery has also eliminated unpaid internships, except when student interns receive school credit. Further steps in the School and the Gallery are planned and will be announced soon.
To stay up to date on the Gallery’s activities, please check our website for the latest updates. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And if you are not already signed up for our biweekly e-newsletter, sign up here.