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

Chicago, IL 15 July - 30 November 2021 

Twenty-eight MacArthur Fellows selected for Toward Common Cause

Multi-site exhibition organized by the Smart Museum of Art to open in summer 2021


Twenty-eight MacArthur Fellows have been selected to participate in Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, an expansive multi-venue exhibition organized by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in collaboration with more than two dozen exhibition, programmatic, and research partner organizations across Chicago.

The exhibition, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program, will encompass a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice, including community-based projects realized in public spaces as well as solo and group presentations in multiple museum, gallery, and community spaces. The full list of participating artists is below and online at the exhibition website,


"This project began three years ago with a sense of purpose that has only grown more urgent. Art is a vital social resource, especially in times defined by division, pandemic, and vitriol. In the midst of multiple calamities, I have been afforded the unimaginable privilege of working with this group of artists as they met and mentored youth, forged alliances to confront the disproportionate impacts of environmental pollution, and prepared to share their creative vision with all of us across Chicago. Their work has kept me from giving in to despair and offers a daily reminder that there is beauty and goodness in the world, that individual and collective action can change people's lives," said Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition Curator at the Smart Museum.


Toward Common Cause will open in summer 2021. The exhibition uses the idea of "the commons" to explore the current socio-political moment, in which questions of inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access are constantly being challenged across a wide array of human endeavors. It will be realized through collaboration with multiple exhibition sites as well as programmatic partners in neighborhoods across the city. The current list of partners is available below.


“The MacArthur Fellows Program is so pleased to support this ambitious exhibition as a way of connecting the work of MacArthur Fellows with local communities in the city of Chicago, MacArthur’s home city. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program, which recognizes and supports creative pursuits across all fields and disciplines, the exhibition will address themes and issues that reach across disciplines and approaches. In the face of today’s unprecedented challenges, Toward Common Cause makes a strong case for the vital role of creative thinking in imagining a better, more equitable future,” said Marlies Carruth, MacArthur Fellows Program Director.“Toward Common Cause is a profoundly collaborative project and the Smart Museum is thrilled to move beyond its own walls in partnership with these exhibition, program, and research partners across Chicago. I hope that the exhibition will foster broader and deeper relationships between artists, institutions, and communities while creating a space for us to reflect on what it means to support a vibrant cultural community for all,” said Amina Dickerson, Co-Interim Director of the Smart Museum.


Additional details about Toward Common Cause—including exhibition dates, visitor information for each venue, related programs, and a full checklist of works and projects—will be made available at a later date through the full companion website,


Participating artists Njideka Akunyili Crosby, b. 1983, Enugu, Nigeria; MacArthur Fellow, 2017
Ida Applebroog, b. 1929, Bronx, New York, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 1998
Dawoud Bey, b. 1953, Queens, New York, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2017
Mark Bradford, b. 1962, Los Angeles, California, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2009
Mel Chin, b. 1951, Houston, Texas; MacArthur Fellow, 2019
Nicole Eisenman, b. 1965, Verdun, France; MacArthur Fellow, 2015
Wendy Ewald, b. 1951, Detroit, Michigan, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 1992
LaToya Ruby Frazier, b. 1982. Braddock, Pennsylvania, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2015
Jeffrey Gibson, b. 1972, Native American, Mississippi Band of Choctaw, Cherokee; MacArthur Fellow, 2019 Guillermo Gómez-Peña, b. 1955, Mexico City, Mexico; MacArthur Fellow, 1991
Gary Hill, b. 1951, Seattle, Washington, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 1998
David Hammons, b. 1943, Springfield, Illinois, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 1991
Alfredo Jaar, b. 1956, Santiago de Chile, Chile; MacArthur Fellow, 1998
Toba Khedoori, b. 1964, Sydney, Australia; MacArthur Fellow, 2002
An-My Lê, b. 1960, Saigon, Vietnam; MacArthur Fellow, 2012
Whitfield Lovell, b. 1959, New York, New York, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2007
Rick Lowe, b. 1961, Alabama, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2014
Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, b. 1961, Madrid, Spain; MacArthur Fellow, 2001
Kerry James Marshall, b. 1955 Birmingham, Alabama, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 1997
Julie Mehretu, b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; MacArthur Fellow, 2005
Amalia Mesa-Bains, b. 1943, Santa Clara, California, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 1992
Trevor Paglen, b. 1974, Maryland, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2017
Fazal Sheikh, b. 1965, New York, United States; MacArthur Fellow, 2005
Shahzia Sikander, b. 1969, Lahore, Pakistan; MacArthur Fellow, 2006