FEBRUARY 2019 – Continuing an ongoing partnership merging modern art and historic spaces, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) will soon “check in” at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. In a collaboration titled MCA Checks In, join us at the hotel throughout the year for art-inspired events crafted just for culture lovers like you.
On March 7, 2019, we’re excited to present the first iteration of MCA Checks In, celebrating the opening of artist Laurie Simmons’ retrospective Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera, now on view at the MCA. Known for her strong feminist stance and ideas about photography as a medium, immerse yourself in Simmons’ work in an interactive satellite exhibit at the hotel. Experience two of our historic hotel rooms – transformed by Chicago-based artist Chanté Linwood – featuring installations to feel as if you’ve stepped into one of Simmons’ photographs. Be transformed into a piece of Simmons’ work yourself by onsite make-up artists as you enjoy live performances and DJ, plus a cash bar.
This complimentary experience is offered in 90-minute waves at 6:00pm & 7:30pm. [Update 3/5/19: Time slots to experience MCA Checks In: Laurie Simmons are full – stop by the event day-of as slots may be available at the door.]
Remember, you can check out Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera at the MCA until May 5 – admission to the museum is free with a coaster from the MCA Checks In: Laurie Simmons event. Tuesdays are always free for Illinois residents and the museum is open until 9pm; Laurie Simmons will speak again at the MCA on April 10.
About Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera:
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s major retrospective of works by Laurie Simmons (American, b. 1949) celebrates an artist who has distinguished herself as a pioneer of new directions in art photography. Since the late 1970s, when she began to develop her mature style using dolls and props as proxies for people and places, Simmons has explored archetypal gender roles with her work. Turning a critical eye on tropes that dominated the postwar era of her upbringing, Simmons creates fictional scenes that mirror and unsettle the American dream of prosperity and feminine domesticity.
In addition to taking a strong feminist stance, Simmons upends traditional ideas about photography as a medium. The namesake work of the exhibition, Big Camera/Little Camera (1976), shows an actual camera juxtaposed with a miniature one, exemplifying Simmons’s other central interest: manipulating scale. “I put the two cameras together for scale,” Simmons explains, “and as a metaphor—real life versus fiction.”
Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera presents nearly all of the artist’s major series, including Cowboys (1979), Family Collision(1981), Color Coordinated Interiors (1982–83), Tourism (1983–84), and Clothes Make the Man (1990–92). In one of the artist’s most well-known series, Walking & Lying Objects (1987–91), Simmons used oversized props as opposed to miniatures. Posing wearing giant props, her subjects hide their faces while showing their legs. The personified objects probe the question of the importance of “props” with respect to humanity by representing the items we rely on to help define who we are.
More than four decades of work by Simmons will be on display, showcasing her importance both historically and as an active contemporary artist. In recent series such as The Love Doll (2009–11), How We See (2015), and Some New (2018), she continued to use the theme of the doll and costume play, asserting that her early ideas about private life and public presentation are as poignant today as they were early in her career. In addition to her photography, there is a small selection of sculpture and three films: The Music of Regret (2006), starring Meryl Streep, Geisha Song (2010), and My Art(2016). Simmons wrote, directed, and starred in the latter two, playing the role of an artist who is frustrated with her work and lack of recognition.
Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera is curated by Andrea Karnes, senior curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth with full support of the artist.
The exhibition is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art on the museum’s fourth floor.