Special Exhibitions

The Special Exhibitions section features curatorial projects by select regional, national, and international non-profit institutions, museums, and organizations. Complementing the surrounding elements of the fair, this program illustrates and preserves the important relationship between contemporary and modern art and non-profit organizations. 

21c Museum Hotel/Facility

Wallwork (detail), 2019. A Facility Artwork by Nick Cave and Bob Faust. Source image by James Prinz.

21c presents an exhibition by Chicago-based artists Nick Cave, Bob Faust, and their team at Facility, a community-based and collaborative art space by Cave. The space features an art-fueled immersive and inspirational environment, developed from Facility-designed patterns that stem from Cave's source imagery. The environment serves to facilitate conversations on 21c Museum's collaboration with local artists and cultural partners. The booth includes activities such as tarot card readings, yoga classes, and booth talks with artists and curators. 21c is a museum, hotel, and restaurant chain across nine cities in the US, and is North America's only collecting museum solely dedicated to twenty-first-century art.

Aperture Foundation

Aperture presents a selection of work associated with the upcoming book The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion. In The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, curator and critic Antwaun Sargent opens up the conversation around the role of the Black body in the marketplace; the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in constructing an image; and the institutional barriers that have historically been an impediment to Black photographers participating more fully in the fashion (and art) industries. Fifteen artist portfolios feature the brightest contemporary fashion photographers.


Artadia presents artwork by the newly-named 2019 Chicago Artadia Awardees: Bethany Collins and Brendan Fernandes. The Awardees, each receiving $10,000 in unrestricted funds, selected through Artadia’s rigorous, two-tier jury review process. Awardees are chosen from a group of five finalists which included Bethany Collins, Assaf Evron, Brendan Fernandes, Caroline Kent, and Alice Tippit. 2019 jurors included Ylinka Barotto, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, New York; Ian Berry, Dayton Director of The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; Grace Deveney, Assistant Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and; Dr. Romi Crawford, Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Awardees join a prestigious group of more than 300 artists working in cities throughout the United States. Artadia currently holds annual Awardscycles in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

CASE Art Fund

Lisa RossI Can't Sleep: Homage to a Uyghur Homeland [cards], 201832 x 48 cm Ed. of 10 + 5 AP's

CASE Art Fund presents the first exhibit of Borderlines, a long-term project about the detention center in Tornillo, Texas that housed more than 6000 children ages 12-17. In October 2018, protesters began a three-month residency at the entrance to the Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry, lining the gates with paper flowers sent from all over the country. These flowers became a symbol of hope and love, letting the children know people cared. At Expo Chicago, CASE creates a 6’ high wall running the width of the booth made of paper flowers and invite the public to take down the wall by making a $10.00 donation to remove a flower, which they can keep. As the wall is removed, viewers enter the booth, lit only by a video of a family quietly walking in the desert towards border patrol. Flashlights hang from the walls, which viewers use to see photographs taken from Tornillo. Borderlines strives to raise awareness about children’s human rights and asks all EXPO CHICAGO attendees to help tear down the wall. Donations received will go to the Annunciation House in El Paso.

Chicago Artists Coalition

Mev Luna, Touch-Trace (detail), 2019, Gallium. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo credit: Jesse Meredith.

Chicago Artist Coalition (CAC) presents the work of 2018–19 BOLT Artist-in-Residence Mev Luna, whose work confronts instances of estrangement and exile from one's home, and by extension, one’s culture. With a close focus on the effects of loss and displacement, Luna situates notions of access at the crux of our entangled relationship to both death and transformation. The work pulls from theorist Edward Said’s foundational text, Reflections on Exile, in which he writes, “Borders and barriers, which enclose us within the safety of familiar territory, can also become prisons, and are often defended beyond reason or necessity.” Through research and self-reflection, Luna’s practice rethinks history to identify the fictions that govern contemporary life and speculative futures. CAC is a non-profit organization that supports contemporary Chicago artists and curators by offering residency programs, exhibitions, professional development, and resources that enable them to live, work and thrive in the city.

The Conservation Center

The Conservation Center

For the eighth consecutive year, The Conservation Center is proud to serve as the exclusive art conservation and custom framing provider for EXPO CHICAGO. The Center’s booth showcases recently treated pieces from the early careers of now renowned Chicago artists. Acting as an educational resource for EXPO CHICAGO guests, The Conversation Center’s Special Exhibitions booth offers viewers the opportunity to discover the science and methodology of repairing, preserving, and framing artwork.

CPS Lives

Cecil McDonald Jr. Pieta For America, 2019.Still from Video 

CPS Lives is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization that places Chicago-based artists within selected Chicago Public Schools to create projects during the course of the academic year. CPS Lives presents the work of resident artists Cecil McDonald Jr. and Melissa Ann Pinney, who in the last year worked with schools such as Senn High School, Smyth Elementary, Hendricks Community Academy, Shoesmith Elementary, Bell Elementary School, and the Jenner Academy for the Arts. Focusing on the unique history of each school while working with its students, these artists engage with the immense history of the public education system of Chicago.

Daata Editions X Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)

Bailey Scieszka, Old Put Billboard, Detroit, MI with What Pipeline, 2016. Billboard portrait: Oto Gillen. Photo: Stephen Garrett Dewyer.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and Daata Editions present an iteration of DAILY RUSH, an online platform for experimental media and moving image. The Fall 2019 season, entitled CACHE, premieres new moving image works by Detroit-based artists and filmmakers that challenge the conventions of how—and where—new media is staged. Guest essays, research, and interviews accompany these new commissions, and are available as editioned works through Daata Editions.

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

The Main Hall of the Nickerson Mansion, completed in 1883. Photo by Steve Hall of Hedrich Blessing, 2008. 

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum presents works showcasing its curatorial and artistic fellowship program, a two-year pilot program that engages four local emerging artists-of-color per year to leverage the Museum’s resources and networks as a springboard for their careers. Envisioned by curatorial fellow, Kekeli Sumah and featuring artist fellows Brittney Leeanne Williams, Jeffly Gabriela Molina, Luis Rodríguez Rosario, and Darrell McKinney, the work explores ways in which a Gilded Age mansion may inspire and shape the contemporary landscape. In figuring the new contemporary art exhibition series, A Tale of Today: New Artists at the Driehaus, the Museum’s home—the Nickerson Mansion, completed in 1883—becomes a site of discourse.

For Freedoms | Blackpuffin

Jamaal Peterman, “Hood Dreams,” 2019, Oil paint, drywall on canvas, 48” x 48”

For Freedoms, in collaboration with Blackpuffin Curatorial, presents the visual essay and accompanying performances, Looks of Freedom, curated by Modou Dieng and Michelle Woo. Looks of Freedom is an exploration of fiction, fantasy, and the future, offering a stage to unpack and repack notions of blackness, brownness, queerness, and belonging. Coming from varied diasporas, while working through an intimate lens, the artists on view attempt to locate a sense of self within a global chaos. For Freedoms is a platform for greater participation in the arts and in civil society, producing exhibitions, installations, public programs, and billboard campaigns to advocate for inclusive civic participation. Blackpuffin is a curatorial company focusing on equal parts collaboration and strategy. Its mission is to produce an interactive platform for artists, businesses and collectors to engage and motivate each other through curating and advising.

The Gallery Club

Marie-José JongeriusLos Angeles Palms, 2015Archival pigment print19.7 x 15.7 inchesEdition of 50

The Gallery Club presents The American Landscape, a photographic exploration of American landscapes through the eyes of contemporary Dutch photographers Iwan Baan, Charlotte Dumas, Marie-José Jongerius, Sem Langendijk, and Bert Teunissen. The scenes captured range from Los Angeles to New York City, aiming to provide a different perspective of the United States. The Gallery Club is a non-profit foundation for photography based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Human Rights Watch

Maryam Taghavi, image from Unsuccessful Jump, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable  

Human Rights Watch presents Unsuccessful Jump, a new work by Chicago-based artist Maryam Taghavi. An interactive installation that shines a spotlight on the power of language as a tool for propaganda, Unsuccessful Jump encourages us to question statements disseminated by those in power and engage in unexpected moments of joy and beauty as acts of resistance. Founded in 1978, Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. We scrupulously investigate human rights abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to secure justice in more than 90 countries worldwide. Human Rights Watch harnesses the power of technology in the service of freedom, using satellite imagery and drones, data analysis, and open source investigations to document abuse.

Hyde Park Art Center

SaraNoa Mark, Temporarily Removed, 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable

Hyde Park Art Center presents Assaf Evron and SaraNoa Mark collaborating on a new installation that combines their shared interest in the language of presentation of artifacts to reconsider human perception of history, national borders, and culture. Enacting a controlled logic of placement with photography, drawing, and clay sculpture, the Chicago-based artists transform common didactic museum display techniques into speculative gestures that attempt to make time physically present. Israli artist, Evron contributes his large-scale digital print incorporating the concrete modernist mural by Shlomo Eliraz (1912–1994) in Herzliya, which presents parallels between architectural history and cultural legacy. Sand collected from around the world and hand-etched clay columns by New York artist, Mark methodically intersect with Evrons image and build a unique immersive space for contemplation. The exhibition, "Use time as a tool, not as a couch", offers a transliterate experience of the visual graphics that permeate throughout geographies and dynasties in attempt to transfer knowledge before it disappears.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) | Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030-2100 exhibition at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Moscow, 2019. Photo: Alexey Narodizkiy. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. 

The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100, presented in collboration by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, as part of the Special Exhibitions program, is an extension of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art groundbreaking exhibition that explores ways to change our understanding of the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC Is a non-profit environmental advocacy group with more than 3 million members and online activists. The organization engages in a variety of interdisciplinary partnerships with artists, architects, and designers to engage the public on critical environmental issues. Founded in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich, Garage is the first philanthropic institution in Russia to create a comprehensive public mandate for contemporary art.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Rosemary Hall, Imaginal Disk, 2019Photo Credit: Brittany Laurent

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) presents work of five MFA 2019 graduates: Julie Boldt, Rosemary Hall, Ed Oh, Parvin Peivandi, and Marie Ségolène. Engaging in a broad scope of material inquiry and research, these artists exemplify SAIC’s core values, offering a glimpse into our contemporary moment, where meaning and making are inseparable. For more than 150 years, SAIC has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers, and scholars. With a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary art and design as well as exceptional resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Notable alums include Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, and Jeff Koons.

University of Chicago Department of Visual Arts

The Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago (UChicago) at EXPO CHICAGO 2018. 

The Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago (UChicago) presents Keeping in Mind, curated by Alyssa Brubaker and Maggie Hire, an exhibition of work by graduates of the 2018 MFA program at UChicago that expands upon the concept of a “mind palace,” transforming the booth into a site of display for collective memory. Focused on making, the Department of Visual Arts is one of the many specialized knowledge communities at the University of Chicago, one of the world’s great research institutions. At UChicago, art is inquiry, as students pursue areas of overlap with the many other disciplines represented at the university—history, art history, science, philosophy, aesthetics, theater, music, and creative writing, among others.