Diversity and Contemporary Art: Tania Bruguera, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Glenn Ligon

  • Edlis Neeson Theater
    First Floor, Accessible via the Griffin Entrance on Pearson Street
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Featured image

Tania Bruguera, Poetic Justice, 2002–03. Video installation with used tea bags, 8 one-second selection from several international historic newsreels, 8 LCD screens, 8 DVD discs, and 8 DVD players; 62 × 6 x 12 ft
Photo: Michael Tropea, courtesy of the artist


What does diversity mean today? What are the implications for museums, artists, and their audiences? And what hard work still lies ahead as we create opportunities for people to grapple with culture and identity through the artworks we present, and engage artists and audiences on equal terms? Madeleine Grynsztejn, MCA Pritzker Director, leads the discussion with political scientist Melissa Harris-Lacewell, artist Glenn Ligon, and interdisciplinary artist Tania Bruguera.

About the Speakers

Madeleine Grynsztejn is the Pritzker Director of the MCA, a position she assumed in March 2008. She is currently co-organizing the first US retrospective of the work of Luc Tuymans, and is serving on the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee and their Arts and Culture Advisory Council. Previously, she was the Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for seven years, where she curated the critically acclaimed traveling exhibitions Take your time: Olafur Eliasson and The Art of Richard Tuttle. Prior to SFMOMA, Grynsztejn was curator of contemporary art and of the 1999 Carnegie International, a globally focused quadrennial exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. She was also associate curator and acting department head for 20th-century painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (1992–96). Grynsztejn was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and London, England. She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and received her BA in art history and French from Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her MA in art history from Columbia University.  

Tania Bruguera is an interdisciplinary artist interested in inserting art into everyday political life. Bruguera currently lives and works between Chicago and Havana and serves on the faculty at the University IUAV in Venice, Italy, and The University of Chicago. In 2002 she founded Cátedra Arte de Conducta, an alternative art school project in Havana. She participated in Documenta 11 and has presented in major biennales around the world, including Venice, Sao Paolo, Istanbul, Moscow, Tirana, Goteborg, Johannesburg, Kwangju, Shangai, Havana, and Site Santa Fe. Her work has also been exhibited widely in numerous solo and group shows around the world. In 1998 she was selected as a Guggenheim fellow (United States). In 2007 and 2000 she received a Prince Claus Grant (the Netherlands.)

Melissa Harris-Lacewell's academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges. She is Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University. Professor Harris-Lacewell is the author of the award-winning book Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, (Princeton 2004). She provides expert commentary on US elections, racial issues, religious questions, and gender issues, and is a regular contributor on The Rachel Maddow Show, NPR,,, The Nation and its shared blog The Notion. She is currently at work on a new book, Sister Citizen: A Text For Colored Girls Who've Considered Politics When Being Strong Wasn't Enough.

Glenn Ligon's resonant paintings and works in other media embody complex questions of identity, representation and language. Ligon is best known for text-based paintings that appropriate material from black-themed coloring books, the jokes of Richard Pryor, and the writings of James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Zora Neale Hurston, and others. He treats these texts and images as material, allowing them to function both physically and conceptually and to destabilize our assumptions of race, sexuality and of our place in the world. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at Regen Projects in December 2009 and the presentation of a film project based on Thomas Edison's version of Uncle Tom's Cabin at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Glenn Ligon's work is in the collections of museums worldwide. He lives and works in New York.


Copresented with the MCA's Audience Development and Diversity Committee.

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