Collaboration aims to keep artists in Chicago

Jochen Gerber

Jochen Gerber of The Field Museum shows a glove made of mussel sea silk to fellows of the Field Trip / Field Guide / Field Notes consortium, a collaboration designed to make the city more attractive to young artists.

Many artists are educated in Chicago, but not so many stay to expand the Chicago art world.

That’s why the School of Art & Art History joined two prestigious institutions — the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute — in a collaboration to make Chicago more attractive to creative young people.

“Part of the plan was to engage directly with goals of the Chicago Cultural Plan and to incentivize artists and people in the creative economy to stay in Chicago instead of going to Los Angeles or New York,” said Lisa Yun Lee, director of the School of Art & Art History.

Three grad students and recent alumni from each school were chosen as fellows in the consortium, called “Field Trip / Field Notes / Field Guide.”

UIC’s representatives are Alejandro T. Acierto, who graduated in 2015 with a master’s degree in new media arts; Kera MacKenzie, a 2013 graduate with a master’s in moving image; and Nicoletta Rousseva, a doctoral student in art history. Participants from the University of Chicago study art, anthropology and evolutionary biology. Those from SAIC are alumni in new arts journalism, architecture and visual and critical studies.

The group began meeting in October and meets monthly through June to share research and attend field trips, seminars and lectures that make use of Chicago as a lab and provoke exchanges that might not occur in an academic setting.

Rousseva said the group began with a field trip to Chinatown, where they paired off for a scavenger hunt to get acquainted and begin planning. At their second meeting, a fellow who works with mollusks at the Field Museum led a tour of research projects there. Other trips include the Croatian Embassy, the site of the once-planned Spire building, the Chicago Pedway and a Lake Michigan pumping plant.

The group will present their research in a field guide, highlighting their approaches while in the field.

“It’s been a great way to think about how my own work can be complemented by students in other disciplines. It’s been interesting to triangulate my work with theirs,” Rousseva said.

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