Vacancy features projects led by Andres Hernandez, Emmanuel Pratt, Amanda Williams and their collaborators. Based at Columbia College’s Glass Curtain Gallery, the exhibition extends beyond the gallery through site-responsive projects around the city. The work challenges the conception of architecture and built environments, demonstrating how architectural practice merges creative and activist strategies to challenge the value, politics and identity of empty or abandoned space. The gallery installations emerge from and connect to community-specific projects in neighborhoods that are under-resourced and where these collaborations may catalyze social change. While these artists have disparate practices, intersections emerge in the notion of vacancy, community (re)development, gentrification vs. displacement, history as empowerment, gender and racial equity, and harnessing neighborhoods’ existing creative assets. Vacancy brings representations of these practices into a common space, fostering synergies and connections through engaging, interactive installations. Accompanying programming drives audiences beyond Chicago’s downtown into the communities where this work thrives.

Biography of Speaker/Presenter:  Exhibition Curator Neysa Page-Lieberman  Neysa Page-Lieberman is the director and curator of the Department of Exhibitions and Performance Spaces at Columbia College Chicago. She also designed and teaches Columbia’s first course on curatorial theory and practice. Outside of Columbia, Neysa lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago offering public programs on the Museum’s collections. Curatorial highlights include: the nationally touring Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond; RISK: Empathy, Art and Social Practice; Dis/Believer: Intersections of Science and Religion in Contemporary Art; and Vodou Riche: Contemporary Haitian Art. Neysa is an active participant in the Chicago arts community including mentoring emerging curators as a Mentor-Curator for Chicago Artists Coalition’s Hatch Curator Residency program and commissioning large-scale public murals for the Wabash Arts Corridor in Chicago’s South Loop. Her upcoming exhibition focuses on feminist theory and practice explored through socially and politically engaged art.  

Additional Partners: 
Collaborators with Emmanual Pratt:  Key players in the collaboration include San Francisco-based McCall Design Group and their team of University of California Berkley students who are creating modular conceptual designs to share and cross pollinate with teams of Chicago architecture students; Chicago architects Katherine Darnstadt / Latent Design and Chantelle Brewer / Ross Barney Architects who serve as mentors on the project; Chicago Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) division with 25 students who are building the aquaponics systems; muralist Max Sansing; and Agape Werks who is designing the multimedia digital monitoring system that will screen in the gallery.

Collaborators with Andres Hernandez: Cabrini Green former residents, Columbia College student artists

Collaborator with Amanda Williams: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh of Stop Telling Women to Smile