This guide is designed to help you navigate the museum. There are four floors in the building, and an ever-changing array of contemporary artwork. You don't have to see it all. Here, we present four stories about four objects, one for each floor (story) of the museum. You'll find information about the art and artists as well as videos, photos, and maps. We hope you enjoy your journey.

The artists in this issue of 4 Stories all consider space—the space their artworks occupy in the room as well as the space we inhabit while looking.


Alexander Calder
Chat-mobile (Cat Mobile), 1996
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Leonard and Ruth Horwich Family Loan, EL1995.10
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

What is this object?
How was it created?
Who is the artist?

The term “mobile” was coined by French-American artist Marcel Duchamp to describe Calder’s moving sculptures. The word means both “motion” and “motive” in French. Calder estimated he made over 2,000 mobiles during his lifetime.

• What do you imagine this cat is thinking about? What is it about his expression or pose that makes you think that?

• Design your own mobile. What materials or objects would you use? Where would you hang it?

• Several of Calder's public sculptures and installations can be found not too far from the MCA. Check out Red Petals at The Arts Club of Chicago, the giant Flamingo in Federal Plaza, the installation Universe in the Willis Tower lobby, or Flying Dragon in the North Stanley McCormick Memorial Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago.

• Many artists have shown a renewed interest in Calder’s work. The MCA presented an exhibition on Calder and contemporary artists, Jun 26–Oct 17, 2010.

View the microsite

4th Floor Exhibition
Oct 12, 2013–May 10, 2015


Exhibition Page


Faheem Majeed<br /><i>Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden</i>, 2015<br />Wood panels, wood stain, nails, and mixed media<br />Courtesy of the artist


Faheem Majeed
Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, 2015
Wood panels, wood stain, nails, and mixed media
Courtesy of the artist

Who is the artist?
What is the purpose of this space?
What goes on in his studio?
The South Side Community Art Center The South Side Community Art Center

• The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC), where Faheem Majeed used to work, was founded in 1940 through President Franklin Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration (WPA). Of the 110 centers established by the WPA’s Federal Art Project, the SSCAC is the only surviving organization and the oldest African American art center in the country.

• The title, Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, is a reference to artist and critic Anna Tyler’s essay on the SSCAC, which elaborates on how caring for the SSCAC was like the process of planting and maintaining a perennial garden.

Anna M. Tyler, "Planting and Maintaining a 'Perennial Garden,' Chicago's South Side Community Art Center” International Review of African American Art 11, no. 4 (1994): 31–37

If you were collaborating with Majeed, what would you like to leave behind as a part of the installation?



Select Photo
I agree to the terms.

See earlier versions of Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden

Faheem Majeed. <i>Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden</i>, 2012. Hyde Park Art Center. Photo: Tony Smith. Courtesy of the artist

Faheem Majeed
Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, 2012
Hyde Park Art Center
Photo: Tony Smith
Courtesy of the artist

Faheem Majeed. <i>Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden</i>, 2012. Installed in the Hyde Park Art Center as a part of the <i>Hairy Blob</i> exhibition (2012). Performance by AACM on Perennial Garden stage

Faheem Majeed
Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, 2012
Installed in the Hyde Park Art Center as a part of the Hairy Blob exhibition (2012)
Performance by AACM on Perennial Garden stage

<i>Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden</i>, 2012 Faheem Majeed. <i>Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden</i>, 2013. Installed in Blanc Gallery

Faheem Majeed
Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, 2013
Installed in Blanc Gallery

3rd Floor Exhibition
Mar 10–Aug 16


Exhibition Page

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 3rd floor map


Kris Martin
T. Y. F. F. S. H., 2011
Hot air balloon, basket, metal ring, and fans
Dimensions variable
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, 2011.43
© 2011 Kris Martin
Photo: Robert Wedemeyer
Courtesy of the artist; MARC FOXX, Los Angeles; and Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf

Who is the artist?
What is a balloon doing in the gallery?
How did the balloon get here?
Illustration of first air balloon passengers. First Hot Air Balloon Passengers

• The first hot air balloon passengers were a rooster, a duck, and a sheep. Their flight took place in France in 1783 and lasted eight minutes.

• Hot air balloons were used during the American Civil War for reconnaissance missions.

• The world record for the highest hot air balloon flight is 68,986 feet (commercial airlines have cruising altitudes of up to 39,000 feet). The pilot, Vijaypat Singhania, had to wear an oxygen mask in order to breathe.

If you were flying in a hot air balloon, where would you like to go?



I agree to the terms.

Check out other artists who have created their versions of balloons.

Carsten Nicolai
Jason Hackenwerth
Christo

2nd Floor Exhibition


Exhibition Page


Koi Fish Pond. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


Koi Fish Pond
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

What is this work?
Who calls this home?
Who is the artist?
Koi fish variety illustration
Kinds of Koi

Koi fish are a variety of the common carp specially bred to bring out a range of bright colors. The word koi comes from the Japanese word nishikigoi (ni'-she-key-goy), meaning "brocaded carp." It is also the Japanese word for "love" or "affection."

• Take a look around the museum as you walk through. Where else can you find the ovoid shape of the pond?

• In Japanese culture, koi fish symbolize love or affection. What symbolizes love or affection for you?

• Take a trip to Jackson Park and check out the koi fish ponds in the Osaka Garden, near the Museum of Science and Industry:

Osaka Garden at Jackson Park link
The Osaka Garden at Jackson Park

1st Floor Installation


About the Building

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 1st floor map