Artist-Activated Ambition

Artists Curatorial Exhibitions Staff

The MCA’s devotion to being artist-activated means that we end up doing ambitious projects.

One of the great benefits of following this mantra of being artist-activated and knowing that we're a contemporary art museum is the fact that we are presented with challenges all the time by the artists that we work with. And I think our team has really learned never to say no to artists. We always want to figure out how to solve these challenges that they bring to us, so whether it's Simon Starling wanting to install a car sideways in the middle of our atrium or somebody like the Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha installing 35 tons of concrete pipes on the plaza to make a gigantic tower, or even Martin Creed also out on the plaza erecting this gigantic spinning neon sign that says "MOTHERS," our team has always figured out a way to make these things happen.

And so I think it's that can-do spirit that then is infectious throughout the rest of the building, and people that work here as well as our audience know that we are willing to be audacious and do things differently and that you can always expect surprises at the MCA, and I think that's something that really also characterizes how we go about our business. And the artists in turn also get really excited and really encouraged by that and feel supported. So it's a real mutually beneficial situation that we've created, but that's one of the things that's really exciting about working here and the things that we do here.

Martin Creed, Work No. 1357, MOTHERS, 2012. White neon and steel; 22 2/5 x 47 3/5 ft. (6.8 x 14.5 m). Installation view, Martin Creed Plays Chicago, MCA Chicago, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Martin Creed, Work No. 1357, MOTHERS, 2012. White neon and steel; 22 2/5 x 47 3/5 ft. (6.8 x 14.5 m). Installation view, Martin Creed Plays Chicago, MCA Chicago, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, MCA Chicago Plaza Project
: Alexandre da Cunha, MCA Chicago, Jul 18, 2015–Jul 24, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, MCA Chicago Plaza Project
: Alexandre da Cunha, MCA Chicago, Jul 18, 2015–Jul 24, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

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Video still, Behind the Scenes at an Art Museum. © MCA Chicago.

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