In 1994, the Art Institute established a committee comprised of African American community leaders with the mission to promote and sustain diversity within the institution. Launched with a grant from the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund, the initiative continues today as the Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC).
The Leadership Advisory Committee of the Art Institute provides counsel, fresh perspectives, and support to the museum on all matters related to the engagement and advancement of African Americans in the life of the institution.
The LAC believes diversity in vision, collections, exhibitions, staffing, and audience is critical to the future and well-being of all American cultural institutions, and it is committed to engaging the broadest and most diverse audience in support of this vision via marketing, development, and educational programming.
Membership by invitation only
Contact Natalie Harris Lenz, associate director of Leadership Advisory Committee, at (312) 443-3133 or email@example.com for more information about upcoming activities.
Todd C. Brown Dana D. Rice
Hilton Clark Les Coney Kevann Cooke Amina J. Dickerson Lauranita Taylor Dugas Maxine Duster Murrell Higgins Duster Ardena Flippin, M.D. Rita Aliese Fry, Esq. Phil Gant Denise B. Gardner Graham C. Grady, Esq. Dina A. Griffin, AIA, NOMA Marguerite H. Griffin Leah Hope Phil C. Johnson Jetta Jones, Esq. Patricia Langhart Lisa Lenoir Donna Brooks Lucas Lester McCarroll Jr. Eric McKissack Peggy A. Montes Isobel Neal Anita Blanchard Nesbitt, M.D. Madeline Murphy Rabb Sandra Rand Lauren G. Robinson, Esq. Gwendolyn Rogers Joan F. Small Isabel Carter Stewart Nigel F. Telman, Esq. Rebecca Ford Terry Rev. Richard L. Tolliver Audrey Tuggle Dave L. Walker Valerie Barker Waller
April 4, 2013 Celebration of Migration
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted a free celebration where the visual artists and artwork featured in They Seek A City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1901-1950 were honored through music, dance and spoken word performances in the museum's Modern Wing. Maxwell Street Klezmer Band delighted guests with joyous and soulful interpretations of Jewish music from Eastern Europe. Students from Tarkington Elementary School, presented by the National Museum of Mexican Art's Casa Program, performed traditional Mexican folkloric dances in bright, jovial costumes. The MB Collective from the South Side Community Art Center gave a riveting performance of the poetry of Margaret Burroughs, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Langston Hughes.
March 2, 2013 They Seek A City Opening Gala Celebration
On Saturday, March 2, the Leadership Advisory Committee hosted nearly 300 guests for the opening celebration of They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910–1950. After sipping cocktails in Terzo Piano and dining in the Modern Wing's Griffin Court, guests enjoyed a sneak peak of the exhibition; a gaming lounge complete with craps, blackjack, and pool; and the big band sound of Terisa Griffin.
In conjunction with the gala, the Leadership Advisory Committee partnered with the Art Institute's education department and numerous nonprofit, cultural, and community organizations throughout the city to launch several compelling public programs related to the exhibition. Throughout the show's run, teens from the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers program and families from various social service organizations, like the South Chicago Art Center and the Carole Robertson Center, explored the exhibition through guided tours and participated in studio art-making activities based on their own migration stories. Chicagoans were also invited to share their migration story via a special blog, http://theyseekacity.tumblr.com.
February 20, 2013 Kara Walker: Rise Up Ye Mighty Race!
On Wednesday, February 20, the museum proudly debuted Rise Up Ye Mighty Race! (2013), a commissioned work by acclaimed artist Kara Walker (American, b. 1969). The museum's Leadership Advisory Committee, together with the Department of Contemporary Art and the Chicago Humanities Festival, marked this presentation with a sold-out artist's talk, followed by an installation preview. Over 900 guests enjoyed the installation of cut-paper silhouettes, five large graphite drawings, and 40 mixed-media drawings.
October 19, 2012 Steve McQueen
The Leadership Advisory Committee and the Evening Associates hosted an unforgettable evening with the artist, including screenings of his cinematic features Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011), a conversation with James Rondeau, Dittmer Chair and Curator, Department of Contemporary Art, and an exclusive reception in the museum's Millennium Park Room. The celebration continued in Griffin Court with the late-night After Dark party, which featured performances by Chicago-based Collaboraction that were inspired by McQueen's intensely concentrated films and projected-image works. More than one thousand people—young, diverse, energetic—filled the museum for a truly memorable evening.
May 2, 2012 Dawoud Bey: Harlem U.S.A.
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted an opening reception and exhibition viewing of Dawoud Bey's Harlem U.S.A., a series of Dawoud Bey's photographs that has not been shown in its entirety since it debuted in 1979 at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The evening began with a conversation among Dawoud Bey; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, author of the monograph Harlem Is Nowhere; and Matthew Witkovsky, Richard and Ellen Sandor Chair and Curator, Department of Photography. Afterward guests previewed Harlem U.S.A. and enjoyed a reception in Griffin Court.
March 30, 2012 New Paradigms: Mickalene Thomas in Conversation with MCA Curator Naomi Beckwith
Along with the School of the Art Institute and the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College, the Leadership Advisory Committee hosted New Paradigms featuring celebrated New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas. Thomas, whose elaborate paintings expand on traditional notions of beauty, discussed her artwork and shared insights from her recent residency at Versaille Foundation Munn with MCA curator Naomi Beckwith. The conversation continued with a reception at the evening's After Dark in Griffin Court.
November 17, 2011 We Have Voice, We Have Temper: African American Artist and Public Discourse
In this thought-provoking conversation, hosted by the Leadership Advisory Committee, contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall and art historian Kymberly Pinder discussed how artists have shaped the public reception of African American art history through their writings and other activist gestures.
October 28, 2011 Conversation with the Saars
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted a conversation among renowned contemporary artist Betye Saar and her two artists-daughters, Alison and Lezley Saar. Ronne Hartfield, former Woman's Board Endowed Executive Director of Museum Education, led the three artists through an exciting discussion about their artwork and family dynamic. Before the conversation in Fullerton Hall, guests were invited to a reception with the Saars around the Woman's Board Grand Staircase.
December 9, 2010 Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted acclaimed American photographer Carrie Mae Weems for a lecture in Rubloff Auditorium. Weems spoke about her Kitchen Table Series, 20 photographs which construct a narrative of African American family life played out around the central device of the kitchen table. Following the lecture, guests were invited to view Kitchen Table Series in the Modern Wing's Gallery 292.
October 22, 2010 Legends and Legacy Award Honoring Dr. Margaret Burroughs
The Leadership Advisory Committee honored Dr. Margaret Burroughs as the second recipient of the Legends and Legacy Award. This award is an honor bestowed to living African American artists who, through their lifelong accomplishments, have achieved national acclaim. Dr. Margaret Burroughs was not only a renowned artist but also an institution builder and educator.
May 25, 2010 A Taste of Exploritas—The French Connection, Matisse, and the Making of The Moroccans
The French Connection: Amina Dickerson described the ways in which travel to African countries such as Morocco enhances an understanding of African and European Modernist art. She revealed the ways in which European artists such as Picasso and Matisse traveled to Africa and borrowed from the forms and aesthetics of African art to inform their work. Following her presentation, curator Stephanie D'Alessandro discussed Matisse's monumental painting, The Moroccans. Stephanie illuminated Matisse's travels in Morocco, which he captured in sketches, letters, and postcards. Her discussion revealed how Matisse, in his travels to Morocco, was inspired to create one of the most important paintings of his career, The Moroccans, rich with experimentation, color, and radical modern form. The lecture was delivered in the Modern Wing's Griffin Court and was followed by a reception in Terzo Piano. All guests were also invited to view the exhibition Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917 in Regenstein Hall.
April 9, 2010 New Paradigms—How WE Influence Art: Dawoud Bey, Theaster Gates and Kehinde Wiley
"New Paradigms" features a conversation among Kehinde Wiley, Dawoud Bey, and Theaster Gates, three leading contemporary African American artists whose works have been included in major exhibitions at mainstream institutions. Because these artists' subjects are the everyday people they see on the streets of Harlem, London, and Lagos, their works represent the effects of changing demographics and globalization. "New Paradigms" confronts the varying narratives surrounding African American culture in the popular imagination. By looking outside the museum and bringing the outside in, these artists are expanding the dialogue concerning African American artists and visitors to the museum. "New Paradigms" took place in Robluff Auditorium, followed by a reception in the Board Trading Room.
March 10, 2010 Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy: 7th Annual Handy Lindsey Lecture and Award Ceremony honoring Deborah Harrington, Woods Fund of Illinois
The Handy L. Lindsey, Jr. Award & Lecture on Inclusiveness in Philanthropy was established in 2003 to honor a colleague in the field who has demonstrated unwavering dedication as a champion for racial and ethnic diversity and inclusiveness in philanthropy. This annual presentation recognizes personal leadership and promotes regular public dialogue on an issue that matters deeply to the philanthropic community. The lecture was delivered in the Modern Wing 's Griffin Court. The reception took place in Terzo Piano.
February 26, 2010 A Conversation with Jonathan Green and Ronne Hartfield
The Leadership Advisory Committee and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) were honored to support the South Side Community Art Center in celebrating their 70th anniversary by co-presenting a conversation with Jonathan Green. In this program SAIC alumnus Jonathan Green (BFA 1982) discussed his work with Ronne Hartfield, former Woman's Board Endowed Executive Director. A reception followed on the Grand Staircase and all guests were invited to view the exhibition Modern in America: Works on Paper, 1900–1950s in the Goldman Prints and Drawings Gallery. This event was one in a series of events presented in conjunction with the South Side Community Art Center's 70th Anniversary.
June 12, 2009 Entropy
On Friday, June 12, 2009, the LAC hosted a discussion and book signing for Entropy, featuring author Bonnie Greer and museum president James B. Cuno. The event took place in the Millennium Park Room.
May 16, 2009 Modern View
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted a Modern Wing Opening Event entitled Modern View: An Evening Connecting Contemporary Artists and Community Leaders. The committee celebrated the installation of renowned artist Kerry James Marshall's Vignette Suite. Guests began the evening with cocktails and hors d' oeuvres in Terzo Piano. They then toured the galleries with special guest curators and ended with coffee and dessert in the new Ryan Education Center.
February 17, 2009 Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy: 6th Annual Handy Lindsey Jr. Lecture and Award Ceremony Honoring Amina Dickerson
The Leadership Advisory Committee partnered with the Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy to present the 6th Annual Handy Lindsey Jr. Lecture and Award Ceremony honoring LAC Member Amina Dickerson. The lecture was delivered in Fullerton Hall; the reception took place in the Board Trading Room.
February 6, 2009 Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture: Richard Powell
Richard Powell and Kym Pinder discussed Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture in Fullerton Hall. The discussion featured a power point presentation and music video. A reception followed in the Board Trading Room. Most guests stayed for the reception to purchase copies of Cutting a Figure and have them signed by author Richard Powell. The first 20 guests to purchase a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago were awarded with a free copy of the book.
November 1, 2008 God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215: David Levering Lewis
The Leadership Advisory Committee partnered with the Chicago Humanities Festival during "Think Big" to present a discussion of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215 with author David Levering Lewis and CBS 60 Minutes interviewer Lesley Stahl. The discussion took place in Rubloff Auditorium and was followed by a book signing and reception in the Board Trading Room.
September 18, 2008 Edo Art and the Reconstruction of Memory: Adepeju Layiwola
Dr. Adepeju Layiwola offered her lecture, "Edo Art and the Reconstruction of Memory" for this LAC-hosted event. Presented in connection with the exhibition Benin—Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria, the lecture focused on the various attempts of Edo artists to establish memories of the British Punitive expedition. Taking a look at a wide range of artistic expression such as paintings, sculptures, and textiles, this lecture discussed the way and manner in which historical memory is reconstructed.
August 29, 2008 Reception for the Association of African American Museums Conference
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted a reception for attendees to the Association of African American Museums Conference in the Millennium Park Room. Guests enjoyed an exhibition overview and a guided tour of Benin—Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria. All guests received a copy of Benin: Royal Arts of a West African Kingdom, written by exhibition curator Kathleen Bickford Berzock.
July 8, 2008 A Royal Gala
The Leadership Advisory Committee hosted "A Royal Gala," the opening benefit for Benin—Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria. The event began with a cocktail reception and private tour of the exhibition led by curator of African Art, Kathleen Bickford Berzock. An intimate dinner in the newly renovated Alsdorf Galleries was attended by international dignitaries, including Princess Theresa Eridewa and Ambassador B.G. Wakil. Special Guests included Mayor Richard Daley and Carol Mosely Braun. The event also featured a program in Rubloff Auditorium hosted by Leah Hope of ABC. The exhibition was open throughout the evening with audio guides and all guests received a copy of Benin: Royal Arts of a West African Kingdom.
September 7, 2007 Jeff Wall: Whose Invisible Man?
Epic and luminous, the work of Jeff Wall has overturned nearly every convention of photography. Meticulously staged and theatrical in scale, Wall's images have more in common with the grandest history painting of the 18th century than with the fleeting documentary style of much of modern photography. With his composition After "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue (1999–2000), Vancouver–based artist Jeff Wall attempts to give a visual form to a scene from Ralph Ellison's 1947 novel Invisible Man. In order to enhance discussion on this controversial work, the Leadership Advisory Committee partnered with Congo Square Theatre Company to present the world premiere of a dramatic interpretation of Ellison's Prologue by Brian Tucker. Following the performance, playwright Brian Tucker and Hamza Walker engaged in a critical discussion of Jeff Wall's image in relation to contemporary understanding of Ellison's significance to American letters.
March 29, 2007 "Tanner: An American Legacy"
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Art Institute of Chicago's acquisition of Henry Ossawa Tanner's 1905 composition, Two Disciples at the Tomb, for its permanent collection and the honor of the legacy of Henry Ossawa Tanner, the Leadership Advisory Committee in collaboration with the Department of Museum Education hosted a lecture entitled "Tanner: An American Legacy." Drawing noted scholars from Chicago and beyond, they offered the public an opportunity to learn more about this important work, Tanner's experiences in this country and abroad, and the artist's subsequent career.
November 5, 2005 Legends and Legacy Award Honoring Elizabeth Catlett
In celebration of her career, the Leadership Advisory Committee honored Elizabeth Catlett Mora (b.1915) with its first Legends and Legacy Award. Ms. Catlett, an internationally recognized printmaker, sculptor, and artist, continues to have an irrefutable influence in the art world through her dedication to social justice, women's rights, and advocacy for literacy. The evening also celebrated the Art Institute of Chicago's acquisition of five rare prints by Ms. Catlett. The prints are currently a part of the museum's permanent collection in the Prints and Drawings department.
January 24, 2004 Tribute to James VanDerZee
An exhibition of work completed by James VanDerZee (1886–1983) during the Harlem Renaissance titled The James VanDerZee Studio was on view in the photography galleries from January 24, 2004 to April 25, 2004. The exhibition was accompanied by a panel discussion on the life and legacy of James VanDerZee, an influential African American photographer that captured the spirit and people of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, 1920s through 1930s.
Century of Collecting: African American Art in the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the finest collections of African American art in the country. The artists represented in "Century of Collecting" span from the late 18th century to late 20th century. The LAC partnered with 50 African American member-based organizations to achieve its goal of attracting more than 50,000 visitors to the exhibition.
Aerospace Design/Tuskegee Airmen: Recognition Reception and Panel
Aerospace Design: The Art of Engineering from NASA's Aeronautical Research exhibition explored the architecture and engineering of wind tunnels by displaying approximately 90 objects from NASA's collection, including wind tunnel models and flight artifacts, past and present.
The LAC honored the Tuskegee Airmen, first squadron of elite African-American WWII fighter pilots, with a reception and panel discussion.
To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities
This unique exhibition surveyed over 100 years of American art and was also the first nationally touring exhibition of its kind. The purpose was to highlight invaluable treasures from the permanent collections of six historically black colleges and universities. There were more than 150 works by celebrated 19th- and 20th-century artists.
Carrie Mae Weems. Untitled (Man and Mirror) from The Kitchen Table Series, 1990. Promised gift of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. Henry Ossawa Tanner. The Two Disciples at the Tomb, c. 1906. Robert A. Waller Fund. Elizabeth Catlett. Civil Rights Congress, 1949. Restricted gift of The Leadership Advisory Committee. James VanDerZee. Wedding Party of Four, 1927. The Director's Fund. Martin Puryear. Lever #1, 1988–89. A. James Speyer Memorial, UNR Industries in honor of James W. Alsdorf, and Barbara Neff Smith and Solomon Byron Smith funds.