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Speculative futures and documentary pasts

From speculative futures to documentary pasts, from obsessive sculptures to tranquil meditation spaces, from historic Japanese design to contemporary Latin religious devotional paintings, there’s something for everyone in Chicago’s galleries and museums in the first few months of 2024. Below is a sample of the best.

Candace Hunter: “Foreign Nations and Sovereign States by Octavia E Butler”: Anyone interested in liberated future societies that fully value black bodies will not want to miss the speculative worlds Candace Hunter creates here with synthetic plant sculptures, an Afrofuturist neon mural, culinary experiments, and doors to imaginary places. A lush reading corner completes the exhibition; To better experience Hunter’s inspiration: “The Sower’s Story” and the “Xenogenesis Trilogy” novels by renowned science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. Through March 3, Hyde Park Center for the Arts, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.; For more information, call 773-324-5520 or hydeparkart.org

David Goldblatt: “No Hidden Purpose”: The great South African photographer, who died in 2018, devoted himself to showing the realities of daily life in his country for seventy years of his career. Goldblatt, who had relative freedom to move around the reserved territory because of his Lithuanian Jewish heritage, pointed his camera everywhere and meticulously followed unemployed nomadic sheep shearers killed on the roads, as well as a pair of women working at a funeral parlor in Soweto. Students cheering as the statue of Cecil Rhodes is removed in the Northern Cape and the University of Cape Town. In addition to 140 photographs by Goldblatt, there are 40 more photographs selected from international contemporary artists. through March 25 at 111 S. Michigan Ave. At the Art Institute at; For more information, call 312-443-3600 and artic.edu

“Chicago Works: Maryam Taghavi”: Although not a calligrapher by any means, the Iranian-born artist nightThe leitmotif of his first solo museum exhibition is the diacritical mark necessary for written Persian. For Maryam Taghavi, nights are everything and nothing: they appear as cutouts on the gallery wall through which infinite mirrored prisms can be seen, they are strung together to form imaginary horizon lines in a series of airbrushed paintings, and they are completely absent in a 13th-century work. poem. through July 14 at MCA Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; For more information, visit 312-280-2660 and Visit mcachicago.org

“Contemporary Old Votos: Commitment Beyond the Medium”: How does worship today look like compared to yesterday? This curatorial collection of historic old ballots (small devotional paintings depicting miracles, often rendered on tin or other found materials) features new works by emerging Latinx artists, including a pink-frosted chapel by Yvette Mayorga and an installation of 28 paintings. New answers emerge in the match. Panels by Francisco Guevara, who make a disturbing use of colonial artistic techniques to apply pre-Columbian pigments. Jan. 12 through March 16 at Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria St.; For more information, contact 312-996-6114 and gallery400.uic.edu

Norman Teague: “A Sublime Love”: What would his bookshelves and chairs look like if John Coltrane had been a furniture designer rather than a musical innovator? Maybe something like the stools and pavilions of Norman Teague, which sees the jazz master and his eponymous album as a cornerstone of improvisational daring and gritty Black aesthetics. In addition to a survey of Teague’s work, he and Rose Camara are filling the McCormick House, the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe dig next door, with jazz-influenced designs from a number of Chicago makers. From January 20 to April 28, Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst; For more information, visit 630-834-0202 and elmhurstartmuseum.org

“Native America: In Translation”: If in the past photography was a weapon in the struggle of Indigenous peoples to fight against the dispossession of their lands, freedoms and cultures, today it can be used to challenge this legacy. Apsáalooke artist Wendy Red Star curates the work of nine Indigenous creators, including Martine Gutierrez, known for “Indigenous Woman,” a spectacular 124-page fashion magazine starring herself as a trans, Mayan supermodel, and Rebecca Belmore, who reenacts memorable moments for the cameras . From past performances that memorialize the lives of First Nations women. Jan. 26 through May 12 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan Ave.; For more information, contact 312-663-5554 and mocp.org

“Actions for the Earth: Art, Care and Ecology”: In due course, this group exhibition features 18 international artists who care for our endangered planet through practices borrowed from indigenous knowledge, natural sciences and healing traditions. A meditation area by Katie West is included; A series of exercises to rethink Zheng Bo’s anthropocentric perspectives; and a mandala that Arahmaiani made from soil and seeds to be grown throughout the exhibition. Jan. 26 through July 7 at the Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston; For more information, contact 847-491-4000 and blockmuseum.northwestern.edu

Selva Aparicio: “In Memoriam”: One of the most surprising artists emerging in Chicago today, Selva Aparicio creates sculptures that are as obsessively elaborate as they are utterly expressive. She does this by decorating a coffin with hundreds of thousands of individually placed dandelion seeds, using lettuce leaves to create a rose window in any jewel color made of stained glass, and hand-carving the details of a patterned carpet. directly onto the parquet floor. March 14 through Aug. 4 at DePaul Museum of Art, 935 W. Fullerton Ave.; For more information, visit 773-325-7506 and resources.depaul.edu

Mina Loy: “Weirdness is Inevitable”: Born in 1882 and part of the Paris and New York art scene of the 1920s and ’30s, Mina Loy has always defied classification. This situation, which has been ignored by art history for a very long time as poets, artists, actors, designers, inventors and thinkers, needs to be corrected with this retrospective, which includes 150 paintings, drawings, compilations, letters, poems and patents. , testifies to its indomitable revolutionary spirit, connectivity and hybridity. March 19 through June 8 at Chicago Art Club, 201 E. Ontario St.; For more information, visit 312-787-3997, artsclubchicago.org

Meiji Modern: “Fifty Years of New Japan”: From 1868 to 1912, Japan went through a period of tremendous transformation that opened its isolated feudal society to rapid economic, scientific, political, philosophical, and social modernization. The changes were aesthetic, as seen in this survey of painted screens and scrolls, woodblock prints, fashionable clothing, cloisonné vases, and more, all borrowed from American collections. March 21 through June 9 at Smart Museum, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.; For more information, contact 773-702-0200 and smartmuseum.uchicago.edu

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