MCA Artist Residency

Ever since the pioneering 1969 exhibition Art by Telephone, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has collaborated with artists in exciting ways. As the museum develops a vision for its future, it is becoming more audience-engaged as well as artist-driven.

This vision led the MCA to establish a unique artist’s residency. After studying residency models at arts organizations around the world, museum staff decided to distinguish the MCA’s residency as a museum-wide program with audience engagement at its heart. While traditional residencies focus on production or research, the MCA’s forges relationships between top contemporary artists and the diverse public served by the museum. Resident artists including Eighth Blackbird, Mark Bradford, Martin Creed, and Goshka Macuga bring different ideas to the MCA each year, becoming catalysts for community engagement projects and timely discussions that reach communities all over the city.

Eighth Blackbird was the ensemble-in-residence at the MCA, from September 2015 through June 2016. The gallery space provided by the MCA was a hub of activity, from guest artist collaborations to interviews to Tuesday night programming. Eighth Blackbird was encouraged by the MCA to nest in the gallery and to treat it as a regular rehearsal space, allowing the ensemble to form new audience relationships and to test the waters of new compositions. All rehearsals by Eighth Blackbird at the MCA were open to the public.

Now, Eighth Blackbird is available to bring a shorter version of this type of residency to museums worldwide. During a 1-2 week residency period, Eighth Blackbird would not only rehearse, but conduct their regular business meetings and do personal practice in the space provided. The public would be welcome to observe and engage to their level of comfort with the members during any of these activities. There would also be ample time devoted to educational coaching and mentoring of the students and members of your museum’s community, all open to public observation. This could include students from local schools and universities as well as semi-professional young artists and ensembles who have already launched careers. As a culmination to the residency, Eighth Blackbird would present a public performance either on their own or alongside the community members they worked with.

For more information, please contact Eighth Blackbird’s Managing Director Peter McDowell peter@nulleighthblackbird.org


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Lead support for the Eighth Blackbird residency is provided by Helen and Sam Zell. Additional generous support is provided by Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Judy and Bob Duvall, Anne Kaplan, the National Endowment for the Arts, and New Music USA (made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust).

 Interviews from the Guest Artists program at the Museum of Contemporary Art residency.


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Photos from the Museum of Contemporary Art residency.