Parts of Speech, Tomeka Reid, On Onomatopoeia



A live feed of this off-site event will be streamed to the MCA Commons.

Featured images

Parts of Speech contributor Tomeka Reid. Photo: Iztok Zupan
courtesy of the artist and Public Fiction


As part of the Commons Artist Project entitled Parts of Speech, a series of experimental lectures take place at sites of assembly throughout Chicago and address the use of public speech to mold opinion, forge intimacy, marshal authority, and orchestrate movements.

Tomeka Reid, a cellist and composer, is especially concerned with the reception of jazz and improvised music. Many meaningful aspects of music can be indiscernible to listeners. They are, however, apparent to composers and performers, as they trace a lineage between the past and present. These musical elements enable musicians to create new work by quoting, honoring, and remaking history. Reid wonders how, without advocacy and education, this music will continue to be heard, and by whom. Will the stories of musicians continue to be recorded, and will the references that infuse and enrich the music be understood? How might speech capture music, and how might music act as speech? Reid will talk about how we listen to and misread jazz, and what the knowledge gaps in the history of the music affect contemporary criticism. Toggling between speech and performance, Reid will ask how languages and communities of speakers can look backward while moving forward, and who bears the responsibility for assembling and disseminating the history of the music.

Tomeka Reid is joined by cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, vocalist/poet Ugochi Nwaogwugwu, and drummer Mike Reed.

Parts of Speech is by Public Fiction (Lauren Mackler) with Triple Canopy. The Commons Artist Project is organized by January Parkos Arnall, Curator of Public Programs, with Christy LeMaster, Assistant Curator of Public Programs.

Lectures are presented by Steffani Jemison, Hari Kunzru, Tomeka Reid, Astra Taylor, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, and Julio Torres. The exhibition includes artwork by Rami George, Liz Magic Laser, David Levine, Nicole Miller, Rodney McMillian, and Videofreex.


This event takes place at Stony Island Arts Bank.

Stony Island Arts Bank is accessible via the 69th Street Red Line stop and the 67 67th Street/69th Street/71st Street bus, the 63rd Street Red Line and the 63 63rd Street bus, the Cottage Grove Green Line stop and the 67 67th Street/69th Street/71st Street bus, the 28 Stony Island bus, and the Stony Island Metra stop.

The venue is located on South Stony Island Avenue between 67th Pl and 68th St. The closest highway exits to the bank are the 57th Street exit of Lake Shore Drive and the Lafayette exit of I90/I94.

Metered street parking is available in front of the venue and on side streets.

Stony Island Arts Bank is ADA accessible. For more info or questions about accessibility at MCA events, visit our accessibility page.