Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40

Tuesday, Jun 1 – Dec 19, 2021

The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood
Chicago, IL 60637

Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 (now on view through December 19, 2021) is an ambitious multi-venue exhibition, organized by the Smart Museum in collaboration with more than two dozen partner organizations across Chicago, presents the work of 29 artist-MacArthur Fellows exploring the extent to which certain resources—including air, land, water, and culture—can be held in common. Never timelier than in this moment, Toward Common Cause invites visitors to investigate some of today’s most pressing challenges: the worsening climate crisis, the fight for racial justice, discrimination in housing, and many other vital issues.

The exhibition affirms the power of art—and, in particular, community and socially engaged art—as a channel for discovery, exchange, and action. In the same way, UChicago and the organizations and programs of UChicago Arts have always served as a space for inquiry, debate, and critical discussion. Toward Common Cause demonstrates the University’s commitment to these ideals, combined with creativity and the spirit of collaboration. In line with the ethos of this exhibition, we have invited many involved with the project to further illuminate the issues and artworks. In this monthly communication, we will explore the work of artists, venues, and community partners; provide further insight into the past, present, and future of exhibition projects; and showcase the voices of students across our community as they respond to the exhibition and its impacts. Each newsletter will be organized around a distinct yet interdependent thematic component: identity in America (September), environmental justice (October), and restructured structures (November).

For more information on Toward Common Cause, please visit the exhibition website at

In addition to the many partners involved in Toward Common Cause citywide, UChicago partners include the Abrams Center for Environmental Law, Arts + Public Life, the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, the Harris School of Public Policy, the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, the Open Practice Committee, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.



“Information is power and art is a form of information. In this sense alone, art can be an act of resistance. These are indispensable truths in moments of crisis.”

Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program 40th Anniversary Exhibition Curator. Read the full curatorial statement for Toward Common Cause