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Lions, and photos and Chicago...oh my

Posted  15 days ago  in  Things to Do

2 MIN READ – What was a time you felt the power of community so viscerally that you had no choice but to stop and be enveloped by the presence of it? Art has a way of doing that, and the Art Institute of Chicago’s new exhibit “A Lion for Every House” makes no exception.


The new project invited the Chicago art collective Floating Museum—co-directed by Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman, and avery r. young—to mine the museum’s photography collection as the starting point for a new site-specific installation—one that further connects the museum to the communities it serves, and aims to assemble a new community in the galleries.

There are few instances of collective art being captured so beautifully in institutions as grand, and albeit exclusive, as the Art Institute of Chicago. To fulfill their goal of art created through relationships among community, architecture and public institutions, Floating Museum, along with various curators in Photography and Media at the Art Institute, extended invitations to 10 photographers and paired them with 10 local “hosts”—political leaders, activists, and arts supporters in the city. Through months of brainstorming and relationship building, Floating Museum talked extensively with each host about their lives and experiences. The individual hosts were then asked to choose a sole photo from three photographs in the Art Institute’s collection, and a copy of that work was sent to the host to display in a place they had designated as “home.” 

A lightbox sculpture in the exhibition displays Leonard Suryajaya's photograph of Stephanie Harris. Photo by Ariella Gibson.

The 10 Chicago-based photographers created art out of art, making a portrait of their host with their chosen work in that home setting. To display the final photographs in their new exhibition, Floating Museum incorporated each one into a lightbox sculpture consisting of domestic lighting techniques–ring lights, quaint chandeliers, table lamps, and more.

In addition to the new gallery of portraits, the exhibition includes the 10 collection works selected by the hosts, the 20 pieces not chosen, and other nods to the elements of communityboth in its most inviting and isolating. Together, A Lion for Every House makes exhibition goers think, feel, and love Chicago for all it’s worth.

A lightbox sculpture in the exhibition displays Jonathan Castillo’s photograph of Roman and Maria Villareal. Photo by Ariella Gibson.

 P.S. Something equally as great as the works themselves may be the new poem, A Lion for Every House by Floating Museum co-director avery r. young, as well as the photo credits along the gallery wall. Take some time and enjoy the view. The exhibition is on display through October 17. Learn more here.