2017 Special Exhibitions

The Special Exhibitions section features select regional, national, and international non-profit institutions, museums, and organizations to be included on the main floor of the exposition. EXPO CHICAGO’s Special Exhibitions offer unique, high-quality installations, joining 135 leading galleries from around the world featured throughout Navy Pier’s iconic Festival Hall. Complementing the surrounding elements of the fair, this program illustrates and preserves the important relationship between contemporary and modern art and non-profit organizations. 

Aperture Foundation

Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person, and online. Aperture presented a special series of limited-edition prints and portfolios of work featured in the latest issues of Aperture magazine, all relating to the themes of “American Destiny,” “Platform Africa,” and “Elements of Style.” Artists included Gregory Halpern, Carolyn Drake, Eric Gyamfi, Malala Andrialavidrazana, and Musa N. Nxumalo. New limited editions related to recently released Aperture titles were also on view, including prints by John Chiara, Zanele Muholi, and Stephen Shore


Artadia exhibited artwork by the newly-named 2017 Chicago Artadia Awardees: Rashayla Marie Brown and Claire Pentecost. 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 Rashayla Marie Brown, Alex Chitty, Cameron Clayborn, Faheem Majeed, and Claire Pentecost by a jury was composed of a distinguished group of leaders in the arts: Rashid Johnson, artist; Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Megha Ralapati, Residency and Special Projects Manager, Hyde Park Art Center; and Susan Thompson, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 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.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum MSU

In anticipation of Michigan Stories: Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley, opening at the MSU Broad in November 2017, The Bells Angels (Simon Bernheim and Julien Sirjacq) produced original silkscreen prints for EXPO CHICAGO. The Bells Angels are the designers of The Hidden World, the book based on a traveling exhibition of Shaw’s fascinating didactic art collection. Michigan Stories will explore the shared background of Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley and their upbringing and early education in the state of Michigan. Growing up in Midland, Michigan and the Detroit area, respectively, Shaw and Kelley met in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan and moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to pursue graduate school at California Institute of the Arts. Michigan Stories is the first exhibition to place these artists’ practice alongside each other in their historical context, approaching their work as parallel visual meditations on Midwestern subculture.

Chicago Artists Coalition

The Chicago Artists Coalition’s (CAC) BOLT Residency is a highly competitive, juried, one-year artist studio program. CAC presented the BOLT Artist-in-Residence Yvette Mayorga, whose work is informed by the politics of the U.S./Mexico border, the events that happen on it, and the transnational narratives that arise after crossing it. In her installation-based work, Mayorga tackles issues of race, identity, gender, and Latin stereotypes using visual tropes of celebration. CAC's exhibiting artist, Yvette Mayorga was selected by Janine Mileaf, Director of The Arts Club of Chicago.

The Chicago Community Trust

As the region’s community foundation, The Chicago Community Trust is dedicated to improving the region through strategic grant making, civic engagement and inspiring philanthropy. Serving nonprofit organizations, the generous donors, and the thoughtful residents who strive to make a difference, the Trust helps their bold vision create lasting community change. For EXPO CHICAGO, the Trust presented Faheem Majeed’s Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, an installation both visually striking and a platform for engagement, discourse, and promotion of the cultural organizations that both the Trust and his practice are invested in. In addition to the installation, curated artworks, performances, and activations by the following cultural organizations took place in the booth by Project Onward, SkyART, Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Celebration and Hyde Park Jazz Festival.

The Conservation Center

The Conservation Center once again was proudly the official art conservation and custom-framing provider for EXPO CHICAGO. In addition to maintaining their sponsorship of the annual fair, The Center’s Special Exhibitions booth showcased completed projects of various art conservation disciplines—ranging from paintings to antique furniture, works on paper and more. Acting as an educational resource for EXPO CHICAGO guests, viewers learned about approaches to preserving the integrity of artworks—from method and application, to science and techniques.

Tamar Dresdner Art Projects + Food Tank NGO

Almost 800 million people around the world are suffering from hunger and over 600 million are obese. Food Chain Project stems from Itamar Gilboa's will to raise awareness to global issues of hunger, obesity, overconsumption and waste by means of examining his own consumption choices. For one year, Gilboa kept a diary of everything that he ate and drank. Tamar Dresdner Art Projects presented the outcome—an installation which was a visual manifestation of everything that he consumed during twelve months and consists of numerous crystacast and chrome sculptures, each representing a food item that Gilboa had consumed. Proceeds from the sales of the sculptures were donated to Food Tank, an NGO which supports environmentally, socially and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity and poverty.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. Returning to EXPO CHICAGO, HRW hosted the Tea Project by Aaron Hughes and Amber Ginsburg, an interactive installation and performance that reflects human rights violations from the “global war on terror.” During the last fifteen years, the United States imprisoned at least 780 Muslim men, nearly all without charge, at Guantanamo Bay in violation of international law. The Tea Project translates the numbers in a compelling manner: an archive of 780 porcelain cast Styrofoam teacups, one for each man detained at Guantanamo. The archive was inspired by Styrofoam cups used at Guantanamo, decorated with flowers by detainees—and when decorated, confiscated by guards. Tea will be served daily in the booth. 

Hyde Park Art Center

In 2016, Hyde Park Art Center launched Resilient Images, an international residency exchange in collaboration with the Centre Régional de la Photographie Nord—Pas-de-Calais (CRP). Featuring artists David Schalliol and Justine Pluvinage, Resilient Images is the result of two eight week residencies that will culminate in a two-part exhibition in both Chicago and France. They were exhibited at EXPO CHICAGO together for the first time in anticipation of their exhibition opening at the Hyde Park Art Center in January 2018. Developing site-specific, research-based projects, engage the artists with new communities to investigate current social and political conditions in each area. With the notion of human resilience at the center of both projects, Schalliol and Pluvinage mine the ways in which individuals cope with and adapt to a rapidly transforming reality, due to financial, political or social change.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was pleased to present White Wanderer, an intervention of sound and light by Luftwerk, the artistic collaboration of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. Drawing from actual recordings of Larsen C—the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica, which is rapidly melting—the artists created a haunting, contemplative soundtrack and immersive installation that reminds viewers of the threat of sea level rise and climate change. The installation was on view as part of a satellite location at 2 N Riverside Plaza in Chicago. Founded in 1970, NRDC is a non-profit environmental advocacy group with more than 2.4 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.

The Renaissance Society

The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago is a contemporary art museum committed to supporting ambitious artistic expression. For the 2017 program, the booth presented a pop-up shop featuring publications and editions. New and recent titles included: Ben Rivers, Ways of Worldmaking; Sadie Benning, Shared Eye; Robert Grosvenor, and Mathias Poledna: Substance; as well as the catalogue for group exhibition Between the Ticks of the Watch, which featured contributions from Kevin Beasley, Peter Downsbrough, Goutam Ghosh, Falke Pisano, and Martha Wilson. Available editions include works by artists Rodney Graham, Arturo Herrera, and others. All sales directly benefited the Renaissance Society’s exhibitions, events, and publishing programs.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leading institution in educating artists, designers and scholars since 1866. Located in downtown Chicago, SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students unparalleled opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields. For the 2017 presentation, SAIC alumna and artist Sadie Woods (MFA 2016) continued her curatorial practice to organize this exhibition of artists from SAIC’s recent graduating classes, with backgrounds spanning SAIC's Painting and Drawing, Sculpture, Fiber, Art and Technology, Film, Video, New Media, Photography, and Performance departments, among others.


ShopColumbia at Averill and Bernard Leviton Gallery serves the Columbia College Chicago community by fostering the representation and sale of professional work and talent from multiple creative fields. As an extension of the classroom, the Shop supports students by providing a professional environment to hone the process of presenting, marketing, and selling work to the public. Through community partnerships, ancillary programming and representation of alumni, faculty and staff, ShopColumbia bridges professional practice with the student learning experience. ShopColumbia presented a diverse selection of fine art, photography, printmaking, film and interdisciplinary work by Columbia College Chicago students and alumni, including Ricardo Bouyett, Hale Ekinci, Kyra Peterson, Henry Voellmecke, and Aobo Wang.


Fostering contemporary art practices that respond to lived experiences, Threewalls encourages a greater awareness of Chicago's rich history and community resources by inviting artists to work across the city. As part of the 2017 program, Threewalls presented Balas & Wax’s Construction/Demolition/Salad. This project invited the public to consider shelter and sustenance by making connections between hotel construction and demolition and food service. The work’s central elements include a multimedia installation, performed readings, and live dialogues.

University of Chicago

The Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago continues its tradition of showing works by its students and recent graduates of the MFA program and the undergraduate program. For 2017, DoVA presented work in diverse media that share a fresh lyrical sensibility with strangely ominous over- or undertones. We find it in the soft and inviting brushwork of Joshua Backus’s painting as it dissolves into Frankenthaler-like stains in a palette of verdigris and bitumen. Similarly, Morganne Wakefield, in her text work I can see her presents a hauntingly beautiful poem of directed glances in a ploddingly mundane form -- handwritten block capitals on graph paper. At the end of the text, she poisons her poem with these words: “Lincoln Continental.” The text describes a car commercial. Artists representing DoVA at EXPO CHICAGO 2017 included: Joshua Backus (painting), Elizabeth Hogeman (photography), Gabe Moreno (sculpture), Anne Showers-Cruser (sculpture), and Morganne Wakefield (work on paper). 

6018North/ 3Arts

3Arts and 6018North present VIP: Very Important Platforms

Presented as a democratic lounge—on the floor above the Fair—the VIP program is a communal art making space to come together, speak up, and resist. Aram Han Sifuentes’s Protest Banners Talking Back provides the material, as well as skills, to create protest banners encouraging solidarity. Onye Ozuzu’s Project Tool is a dance performance and installation in which a sprung wood dance floor is built. Viewers were invited to watch and/or learn woodworking to reconnect body, task, and tool. These gestures shape the ongoing performance. With the current insecurity in the arts, these VIP: Very Important Platforms inspire us to stand strong, connect through work, and literally build our own platforms.