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Objects and Voices: A Collection of Stories

Why do objects matter? What kind of stories do they help tell? Through a series of micro-exhibitions curated by a diverse roster of collaborators, Objects and Voices reveals the multiple ways we work with, learn from, and enjoy objects of art.

This collection-based exhibition is divided into a series of small thematic presentations organized by distinguished professors, artists, museum professionals, UChicago students, and notable Smart alumni. These vignettes reveal the diverse perspectives, passions, and expertise of their curators while raising bigger questions about the interpretation of creative and cultural objects, the role of audiences, and the transmission of knowledge through art.

As with Carved, Cast, Crumpled before it, this special 40th anniversary exhibition takes over the entirety of the Smart Museum—permanent collection and special exhibition galleries alike—and mixes traditional and non-traditional presentations of the Smart’s collection of Modern, Asian, European, and Contemporary art. Together with GalleryX, these projects illustrate how objects and stories are intertwined, preserved, re-interpreted, discovered, and re-invented at a university art museum like the Smart—indeed, how we all can connect with and be inspired by our experiences with art. 

Micro-exhibitions and collaborators

Objects and Voices micro-exhibitions are coordinated by Anne Leonard, Smart Museum Curator and Associate Director of Academic Initiatives

Interaction: British and American Modernist Design
Alice Kain
Assistant Registrar and Coordinator of Academic Initiatives, Smart Museum of Art

Individual Stories and Collective Narratives: Forming the Modern British Art Collection
Keith Hartley
Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Richard A. Born
Senior Curator and Interim Chief Curator, Smart Museum of Art

Mark Rothko: From Nature to Abstraction
Russell Bowman
Former Director, Milwaukee Art Museum

Between Two Worlds: Asian/American Modern Art
Kris Ercums
Curator of Asian Art and Global Contemporary Art, Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas; Smart Museum Curatorial Intern (1997–2005) and PhD 2014, University of Chicago

Signed and Sealed: Connoisseurship of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Paintings
Jie Shi
Smart Museum Curatorial Intern and PhD candidate in Art History, University of Chicago

Catherine Stuer
Assistant Professor of Art History, Denison University; Smart Museum Mellon Foundation Curatorial Intern (2011–2012) and PhD 2012, University of Chicago

Japan at the Fair, 1876–1920
Chelsea Foxwell
Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Chicago

Literary Narratives in Painting
Frederick de Armas
Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Spanish Literature, and Comparative Literature, University of Chicago

Romantic Inter-Mediality
David Wellbery
LeRoy T. and Margaret Deffenbaugh Carlson University Professor in the Department of Germanic Studies, Comparative Literature, and Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

Berthold Hoeckner
Associate Professor of Music, University of Chicago

Fragments of the Medieval Past
Aden Kumler
Associate Professor of Art History, University of Chicago

Claire Jenson
PhD student in Art History, University of Chicago

Rong Rong’s East Village
Wu Hung
Smart Museum Consulting Curator, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, and Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago

Times and Places That Become Us
Kenneth Warren
Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago

The Naked and the Dead
Kerry James Marshall

Marcel Duchamp: Boîte-en-valise
Angela Steinmetz
Former Head Registrar, Smart Museum of Art

War Portfolios in Teaching
Martha Ward
Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Arts, University of Chicago

The Museum Classroom: Responsive Art from Beasley Academic Center
Shannon Foster, Candice Latimer, and 5th grade students
Beasley Academic Center, Chicago Public Schools

Paintings and Evidence
Hannah Klemm
Smart Museum Mellon Foundation Curatorial Intern (2013–14) and PhD candidate in Art History, University of Chicago

Iva Olah
Smart Museum Mellon Foundation Curatorial Intern (2012–13) and PhD 2013, University of Chicago

The Gift of Art
Gay-Young Cho
Member, Smart Museum Board of Governors

Alan Fern
Former Director, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Life Member, Smart Museum Board of Governors

W. J. T. Mitchell
Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Services Professor of English Language and Literature, Art History, and the College, University of Chicago

Peter Parshall
Former Curator of Old Master Prints, National Gallery of Art


This exhibition and its related programming have been made possible by Mary Smart and the Smart Family Foundation; the Smart Museum’s Pamela and R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric Exhibition Fund; the Smart Museum's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment; Janis Kanter and Thomas McCormick and the Kanter Family Foundation; Barbara Fosco and the Fosco Family Foundation; the University of Chicago Women’s Board; the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation; Lorna Ferguson and Terry Clark; Jill and John Levi; Amy Gold and Brett Gorvy; and the IFPDA Foundation.

Presented in the Elisabeth and William M. Landes Gallery, Janis Kanter and Thomas McCormick Gallery, Edward A. and Inge Maser Gallery, Robert and Joan Feitler Gallery, Joel and Carole Bernstein Gallery, and Richard and Mary L. Gray Gallery.

Top: Attributed to Wassily Kandinsky, Composition, 1914, Oil on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Dolores and Donn Shapiro in honor of Jory Shapiro, 2012.51.