Blog: MCA DNA Index

Invisible Roses

By Jeanette Andrews


blog intro

Jeanette Andrews provides some insight into her newest work, developed specifically for the MCA's 50th anniversary. The work debuts next Saturday, October 21, during the museum's free, weekend-long celebration.


Years ago, one of Chicago's most influential magicians, Eugene Burger, had given me a book by a magician who, in the early 1900s, was widely regarded as "the magician's magician." (I'll keep his name under wraps!) He was not famous, but had amassed an incredible base of knowledge. His original manuscript was previously unpublished until relatively recently, but included many gems of parlor magic—the type of magic that interests me most. The manuscript included some beautiful thoughts on doing a piece of magic with a large piece of cloth. I had never seen anything quite like it, but I was always interested in working on something in that vein.

One night in January 2017, I took out the book again to begin working on that piece. The next morning I sat down for my first meeting about a performance for the MCA. Ann Meisinger, the MCA's former assistant curator of public programs brought up Christo's 1969 wrap of the MCA and tossed out the idea: "it would be interesting if you could do something with a large piece of fabric . . . ?" The timing was incredible.

Featured image

Installation view, Christo: Wrap In Wrap Out, MCA Chicago, Jan 18–Mar 3, 1969
Photo: Harry Shunk


I immediately began working on the piece, while continuing to research the idea of invisibility. This evolved into looking at different notions of being hidden in plain sight—a topic I find truly fascinating. In their wrap of the MCA, Christo and Jeanne-Claude had forms that were both concealed and revealed and literally shrouded in mystery.

For the next seven months I spent every day developing the illusion, working with new processes and materials for the piece. (Needless to say, I have spent the better part of a year in an apartment and studio covered in fabric!) As a diehard minimalist, I wanted to try and streamline the aesthetic of the work, while using Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work as a reference, and I was excited by the idea of the materials themselves being disseminated upon each performance's completion.

This work is quite literally my love letter to my family and friends, our city, and the museum that has felt like home to me since I was 16. And I can't wait to share it with all of you.

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