MoCP's 2024 Leap Night DARKROOM Honors Dawoud Bey and Jason Pickleman




The Museum of Contemporary Photography's (MoCP) annual benefit DARKROOM took place last month on February 29 – Leap Night 2024.  

Leap Night proved to be a record-breaking year for MoCP with 400 people in attendance and $325,000 raised. Hosted at the Columbia College Student Center in the South Loop, the purple-lit evening offered VIPS and all attendees a chance to bid on an impressive variety of artworks and experiences for the auction, sponsored by Freeman’s | Hindman. 

The evening honored two Chicago icons for their contribution to the city and beyond. MoCP honored its esteemed colleague, professor, and distinguished artist Dawoud Bey the Silver Camera Award. VIP ticket holders were treated to an engaging conversation between Mr. Bey and MoCP Executive Director Natasha Egan. Bey also received an actual silver camera - an Argus c3 rangefinder Leica, the same camera he had in 1979. Bey shared with guests that the gift of the Leica was "completely and totally unexpected. My life as a photographer began with a little rectangle brick of a camera. This is a wonderful completion of a moment." 


Dawoud Bey and his silver camera


Artist, designer, and cultural provocateur Jason Pickleman and JNL Graphic Design was MoCP's DARKROOM Honoree, with JNL cofounder Leslie Bodenstein accepting the award after sharing a video tribute of JNL's outstanding design work from over the years. In particular JNL has designed much of MoCP's signature materials, just one of the many, many ways Pickleman has supported the arts community and its institutions through award-winning design. Bodenstein had the crowd cheer into her phone so that Pickleman, who was at home due to his health, could hear the enthusiasm in the room as his award was presented. 

Lelie Bodenstein holds the phone up for the crowd to cheer for Jason Pickleman

Eszter Borvendeg and Lincoln Schatz co-chaired DARKROOM along with this year's Benefit Committee.

Event proceeds support MoCP exhibitions, education, and community engagement programs. The public is invited to continue supporting this year’s DARKROOM with a gift to MoCP through this link.



Photos by Julie Lucas, Columbia College Chicago Staff Photographer.