Chicago Cultural Center Announces New Exhibitions Featuring Artist Victoria Martinez; 10 Chicago- and Paris-based Photographers — and Images of Trans, Queer, and Lesbian Grassroots Organizing

February 14, 2024

DCASE Communications

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Other Spring/Summer Programming Includes Music, Dance, Film, Tours, Talks + Shopping


CHICAGO — The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and its partners are pleased to offer free arts programming throughout the historic Chicago Cultural Center this spring and summer. New exhibitions include Victoria Martinez: Braiding Histories, opening April 6; Images on which to build, 1970s–1990s, opening April 20; and Opening Passages: Artists Respond to Chicago and Paris, opening May 4, 2024.

Continuing art exhibitions include A Long Walk Home’s Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar, through March 10; Surviving the Long Wars: Transformative Threads, through December 8, 2024; and Great Ideas of Humanity: One of a Series presented with the Design Museum of Chicago.

Additional highlights include a Spring Open House on April 11 from 4-8pm; a free “Under the Dome” concert on April 18 featuring Rudy De Anda; Dance Residency open studios on more than a dozen dates; film industry programs and screenings; tours; talks; shopping at the Buddy store; and more.

Completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first central library, the Chicago Cultural Center serves as a cultural hub for Chicagoans and visitors year-round with free arts programming, breathtaking architecture, and tours. Visit and follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest events and updates.


Spring/Summer Programming Highlights (subject to change):


New Exhibitions:

Victoria Martinez: Braiding Histories 
Presented as part of Art Design Chicago
Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor North
April 6 – July 28, 2024 

This one-person exhibition features the art of Chicago-based creative Victoria Martinez who works in a variety of materials and scales, drawing inspiration from the body, the urban environment, architecture, and graffiti.

Victoria Martinez: Braiding Histories is part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities. Victoria Martinez: Braiding Histories is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Related Programs:

  • Artist Tour & Talk
    Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor North
    Wednesday, April 10, 12–1pm
  • Conversation with Curator Iris Colburn
    Location TBD
    Saturday, April 13, 3–4:30pm


Images on which to build, 1970s-1990s
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East
April 20 – August 4, 2024 

Images on which to build, 1970s-1990s presents a range of photographic practices that used the medium as a tool for collectivity and empowerment within interconnected lesbian, trans, and queer grassroots organizing. This exhibition reveals the technologies through which influential image cultures were constructed and circulated. The exhibition presents a range of photographic practices to explore the process of learning within alternative schools, workshops, demonstrations, dance clubs, slideshow presentations, correspondences, and community-based archive projects.

Featured artists and collectives include: Diana Solís, Joan E. Biren (JEB), Lola Flash, the Lesbian Herstory Archives, ART+Positive and the Sexual Minorities Archives, among others. Images on which to build, 1970s-1990s is curated by Ariel Goldberg. The exhibition is co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, NY. The exhibition was originally presented as a FotoFocus exhibition on the occasion of the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial: World Record September 30, 2022 – February 12, 2023.

Related Programs:

  • Gallery Talk
    Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East
    Wednesday, June 12, 12–1pm


Opening Passages: Artists Respond to Chicago and Paris 
Part of Art Design Chicago
Exhibit Hall, 4th Floor North
May 4 – August 25, 2024 

Opening Passages brings together ten photographic commissions by French and American artists that survey the dynamic social landscapes of Chicago and Paris. The artists presented are Chicago-based artists Marzena Abrahamik, Jonathan Michael Castillo, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal, Tonika Johnson and Sasha Phyars-Burgess, and Paris-based Gilberto Guiza-Rojas, Karim Kal, Assia Labbas, Marion Poussier, and Rebecca Topakian.

This multi-venue exhibition also features site-specific installations in non-traditional venues and community spaces spread across the city, including Experimental Station (Hyde Park), BUILD Chicago (Austin), 6018North (Edgewater), and The Salt Shed (Goose Island). These various activations throughout the city feature work that directly resonates with the neighborhoods where the venues are situated and speak to the socio-cultural themes that structure the overall exhibition, which reflects on urban divisions, cultural identity, immigrant experiences, waterfronts and green spaces, and the built environment. The exhibition centers stories from the margins, forming a visual collage of life within these two global cities.

Opening Passages: Artists Respond to Chicago and Paris is part of Art Design Chicago. The exhibition is supported in part by the FACE Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art, and is curated by Carl Fuldner.  

Related Programs:

  • Gallery Talk
    Exhibit Hall, 4th Floor North
    Wednesday, May 8, 12–1 pm


Performance Residency: Tend
Sidney R. Yates Gallery, 4th Floor North
June 15 - July 21, 2024

For the first of two summer performance residencies, the Chicago Cultural Center welcomes Khecari and their project, Tend.

Tend is a service-based performance experience. Structured as a one-hour appointment, the self-care informed dance and music scores simultaneously envelope the audience while leaving space to allow your nervous system to settle and contemplate the inherent power differentials in human interaction. Khecari creates dance works furthering the transformative power of live bodies witnessing live bodies and advocates for the essential role of art within society, of dance within the arts, and of all artists working within the dance ecosystem.


Continuing Exhibitions:

Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar
Presented with A Long Walk Home
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East
Through March 10, 2024

Related Programs:

  • In Solidarity of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
    Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East
    Friday, February 9, 12–1pm


  • Protecting Black Women & Girls: A Conversation Between A Long Walk Home and A Call To Men
    Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor North
    Thursday, February 22, 6–7:30pm


  • Reimagining and Remembering Series: Say Her Name/ Douglass Park
    Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East
    Saturday, February 24, 12–2:30pm


  • Black Girl Takeover: The Black Girlhood Altar Festival
    Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East and throughout the building
    Saturday, March 9, 12–4pm
    Sunday, March 10, 10am–4pm


Surviving the Long Wars: Transformative Threads 
G.A.R. Memorial Hall, 2nd Floor North
Through December 8, 2024  

Related Programs:

  • Gallery Talk
    G.A.R. Memorial Hall, 2nd Floor North
    Wednesday, March 13, 12–1pm


Great Ideas of Humanity: One of a Series  
Presented with the Design Museum of Chicago 
Landmark Chicago Gallery, 1st Floor West

Related Programs:

  • Gallery Talk
    Landmarks Chicago Gallery, 1st Floor West
    Wednesday, February 14, 12–1pm


Special Events:

Spring Open House
April 11, 4-8pm
With April being EXPO CHICAGO, the Spring Open House celebrates the new visual exhibitions on view in the Chicago Cultural Center, activates the building with live music, and offers a professional development fair featuring DCASE Opportunities and activities.

Summer Open House
May 30, 4-8pm
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of House music, the Summer Open House activates the building with engagement and live music in the lead-up to the Chicago House Music Conference and Festival that weekend.



“Under the Dome” Concert feat. Shawnee Dez and Rudy De Anda
Preston Bradley Hall, 3rd Floor South
Thursday, April 18, 6:30-8:30pm (Doors open at 5:30pm)

From Chicago’s South Side, music artist Shawnee Dez intently engages her audience, encouraging energy exchanges first and foremost. Dez is concerned with ancestral knowledge and performance as an opportunity to channel and communicate with the past and future.

Born in Mexico and brought to California, Rudy De Anda’s debut solo album, “Tender Epoch” (2020) is a love letter to the long historical lineage of rock ‘n’ roll music interpreted through his multicultural lens. Record has called his sound “deliberately difficult to categorize, familiar but novel at the same time.”



Dance Residency Open Studio Series
Dance Studio, 1st Floor North

The Chicago Cultural Center Dance Studio Residency returns for a second year, with nine Chicago-based dancemakers selected to receive space, time, and funding to create new works through June 2024. Throughout the year, the public is invited into the Dance Studio to get a sneak peek at work-in-progress showings, workshops, artist talks, and more hosted by the current Chicago Cultural Center resident artists.

  • Tuesday, February 13, 6pm (Amalia Raye Wiatr Lewis)
  • Monday, March 4, 6pm (Amanda Ramirez)
  • Tuesday, March 5, 6pm (J’Sun Howard)
  • Tuesday, March 12, 6pm (Chih-Jou Cheng)
  • Saturday, March 23, 11am (Chih-Jou Cheng)
  • Sunday, April 7, 11:30am (Helen Lee / Momentum Sensorium)
  • Tuesday, April 9, 6pm (Drew Lewis / House of DOV)
  • Thursday, April 11, 6:30pm (Aaliyah Christina)
  • Thursday, April 18, 3pm (Drew Lewis / House of DOV)
  • Saturday, April 27, 3pm (Keisha Janae)
  • Tuesday, May 14, 6pm (Jenna Pollack)
  • Monday, June 3, 6pm (Amanda Ramirez)
  • Wednesday, June 5, 6pm (Amalia Raye Wiatr Lewis)
  • Friday, June 7, 6pm (Jenna Pollack)
  • Saturday, June 8, 11am (Aaliyah Christina)
  • Tuesday, June 11, 6pm (Helen Lee / Momentum Sensorium)
  • Sunday, June 16, 3pm (Keisha Janae)

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Walder Foundation. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.



CIX Talk: Writing for Television and Film with Tracey Scott Wilson
Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor North
Thursday, February 8, 5:30pm


Lunar New Year Screening: “100 Yards”
Presented by Asian Pop-Up Cinema
Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor North
Saturday, February 17, 2pm


Tours and Talks:

Building Tours
Building tours reveal the storied history of the landmark Chicago Cultural Center and are offered year-round on Thursdays and Fridays at 1:15pm. Tours are free and led by volunteer docents and/or staff. Limited to the first 25 people who sign up at the Randolph Street desk upon arrival.


“Neighborhood Cultural Spotlight” Program
Spotlighting people, places, and things nominated by Chicagoans for their cultural contribution to their neighborhood’s vitality.

Aguijón Theater – Belmont Cragin
Welcome Center, 1st Floor North
Fridays & Saturdays, April 5, 6, 19 & 20, 2-3pm

The public can interact and learn more about Chicago’s longest-running Latino theater, Aguijón Theater. The company strives to foster, promote, and celebrate the diverse cultural excellence of the city’s Latino theater artists while challenging and inspiring its audiences to surmount language barriers and cross-cultural boundaries.

71st & Crandon Garden
Welcome Center, 1st Floor North
Fridays & Saturdays, May 3, 4, 17 & 18

The 71st and Crandon Community Garden is located on the Southeast side of Chicago in the heart of South Shore, just blocks away from the South Shore Cultural Center.

The garden offers a safe and peaceful space for the community to gather for programs that help promote a sense of self-efficiency, connectedness, and wellness. They seek to build community bonds and friendships that will expand across the generations by offering various free activities throughout the season.


“Meet an Artist” Program
Learning Lab, 1st Floor South
2nd & 4th weekend of each month from 12-2pm

March – May: Meet An Artist public programs with Pugs Atomz. Painter, muralist, designer, musician, Pugs Atomz is a true Hip Hop renaissance man. He is the co-founder of the Englewood Arts Collective, a group that is passionate about amplifying and supporting artists and creative engagements that uplift their community.

June – August: Meet An Artist public programs with Elizabeth "Bel" Reyes. Reyes is an award-winning teacher at Yollocalli Arts Reach in Pilsen, where she leads the Graffiti Mural Project class in which students create “a graffiti mural that will positively reflect and impact the community.”



Buddy Store, 1st Floor South
Located on the 1st floor, the Buddy store supports more than 200 local artists and small manufacturers selling Chicago-made art, objects, and more. This collaboration between Public Media Institute and DCASE furthers both institutions’ goals of providing visibility and opportunities to artists across the Chicagoland area. Details at

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Chicago Cultural Center
Completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first central library, the building was established as the Chicago Cultural Center, the nation's first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue, in 1991. One of the most visited attractions in Chicago, the stunning landmark building is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, as well as free art exhibitions, performances, tours, lectures, family activities, music, and more – presented by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and many others. Learn about the latest events and news at and by following the Chicago Cultural Center on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city — to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city’s most iconic festivals, markets, events, and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city — serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago. For details, visit and stay connected via our newsletters and social media.