Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Telephone: 312.787.4071


Commoning the City—Notes from assembling an Atlas
Stefan Gruber
Nov 21, 2019 (6pm)

Please RSVP

Against the backdrop of the escalating climate crisis, social inequity, and political polarization, the failures of governments or markets to provide even access to resources and opportunities is leading citizens worldwide to take matters into their own hands—self-organizing by pooling resources and claiming their collective right to the city. The creative insights emerging from these practices of commoning offer an entry point for refuting the neoliberal mantra “there is no alternative,” and spurrs the imagination of another possible world. This talk asks many questions, including: What impact can commoning have on the bottom-up transformation of cities? And what agency do designers have in contributing to such commons transition?

Stefan Gruber is an associate professor in architecture and urbanism at Carnegie Mellon University, where he directs the master of urban design program. His work spans design-built projects, and interventions in public space, urban design, and research with a particular focus on spatial practices and the political as articulated through the negotiation of top-down planning and bottom-up transformations of cities. Most recently, Gruber guest-edited ARCH+ magazine 232: An Atlas of Commoning and cocurated the eponymous travelling exhibition. Previous books include Spaces of Commoning (Sternberg, 2016), Big! Bad? Modern (Park Books, 2015) and Vienna: Slow Capital (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, 2011). Gruber founded STUDIOGRUBER in 2006 after working with Diller, Scofidio + Renfro. His research and design work has been published and exhibited internationally and supported by the Graham Foundation, and fellowships from Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Akademie Schloss Solitude, among others.

Image: The travelling ifa-exhibition An Atlas of Commoning on display at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethaninen in Berlin. Photo:  © Sebastian Schels

For more information on the exhibition, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Unraveling Modern Living, click here.



Making It What We Need
Cultural ReProducers with Christa Donner
Nov 23, 2019 (10am)

Space is limited, please complete this form to express interest in participating:

Help create the creative community you'd like to be a part of—in conversation with curators, artists, arts administrators, and others. Making it What We Need is a generative workshop considering alternative models for living, making, and making a living as artists, led by Cultural ReProducers organizer Christa Donner. Non-parents are welcome to join the conversation, which will be relevant to anyone working toward a sustainable life in the arts. Free, on-site childcare will be available through pre-registration.

Christa Donner is an artist, curator, and mother and founder of Cultural ReProducers, who incorporates drawing, participatory performance, and small-press publications to create multi-layered projects that are both intimate and community-centered. Donner’s work is exhibited widely internationally and throughout the United States.

Cultural ReProducers is an evolving group of active cultural workers—artists, designers, curators, musicians, performers, writers, etc.—who are also parents. Founded in 2012 by artist Christa Donner, the group is a creative platform, web resource, and community-based initiative that is for anyone interested in making the art world a more inclusive and interesting place by supporting arts professionals raising kids.

For more information on the exhibition, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Unraveling Modern Living, click here.



Wool Work
Emily Winter
Dec 05, 2019 (6pm)

Please RSVP

Emily Winter from The Weaving Mill discusses her recent research into domestic wool supply chains, following Navajo-raised wool in its transformation from raw material to the stuff of craft. Starting with its entry to the supply chain at the annual Navajo Nation Wool Buy, through grading, scouring, spinning, and weaving, this project opens up the typically-opaque steps of the supply chain through site visits and interviews. This fieldwork is part of the larger project and ethos of The Weaving Mill, in which consideration of the material, social, and historical contexts that shape the work and operations of the studio is a fundamental piece of the practice itself.

Emily Winter is a weaver based in Chicago. She is co-founder of The Weaving Mill, an experimental weaving studio in Humboldt Park that blends design, fine art, textile education, and research-based practice in the context of a repurposed textile manufacturing facility housed in a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. She has a master’s in textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design and a bachelor’s in history from the University of Chicago.

The Weaving Mill is an experimental weaving studio in Chicago’s Humboldt Park that blends design, fine art, textile education, and research-based practice.

Image: Waiting in line at the Wool Buy, Tuba City AZ, June 2019

For more information on the exhibition, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Unraveling Modern Living, click here.



Second Nature (Out of Order)
Fieldwork Collaborative Projects
Dec 07, 2019 (2pm)

Space is limited, please complete this form to express interest in participating:

Considering the Chicago Park District network as a platform for cultural life and civic activation that is a unique network of public spaces, this participatory conversation raises questions about the significance, maintenance, and relevance of these civic spaces. With more than 600 parks, 400 field houses, 26 miles of lakefront, 50 outdoor pools, a museum campus, and Soldier Field, today’s Park District operates as a sovereign territory within the city. Multiple and distributed, this territory pervades every ward and neighborhood. Fieldwork asks local and global questions around “publicness”—the complex patterns of individuals and communities, and the systems that organize them. As a network of sites, each park is a polyvalent territory, at once natural, social, psychological, ecological, political, ethnic, historic, and economic. With cultural change, the distribution and structure of the park network faces new demands, and so does the very mythology that grounds it. If these parks were emblematic of Chicago as a city defined by modern industry, later additions to the system—such as Millennium Park—are emblematic of Chicago’s shift to finance, culture, tourism, and lifestyle economies.Through this discussion Fieldwork explores what opportunities emerge if we radically rethink Chicago’s parks.

Fieldwork Collaborative Projects is an interdisciplinary nonprofit dedicated to increasing cultural activity in the Chicago region. Established by artists with backgrounds in architecture, urban planning, anthropology, research, and criticism, the group has extensive experience with curatorial work and institutional administration. By working beyond the confines of the museum or gallery, Fieldwork transforms underutilized spaces traditionally used for sport or recreation by organizing performances, exhibitions, or other unexpected activities to expose the unseen, unconsidered, underestimated or overlooked potential of a particular place.

Nelly Agassi works in performance, installation, video, textile and paper. Her artwork addresses the idea of the body and notion of intimacy within public space in relation to architecture. Her work engages both the personal and emotional as well as universal concepts. Agassi is a 2001 graduate of the MA program of combined media in Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK. She has received the Nathan Gottesdiener Foundation for Israeli Art Prize and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art award for artistic encouragement from the Israel Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport. Agassi shown her work extensively throughout the world – in sites such as the Israel Museum, Doritto Rovesscio, Milan Triennial, Poor Farm, USA, Hyde Park Art Center, USA, Terrain Biannial, USA and at the Tate Modern in London.

Ionit Behar is an art historian, curator and critic. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her interests are focused on 20th century Latin American and North American art, the history of exhibitions, sculpture after 1960, and theories of space and place. Behar is interested in the relation between the academic discipline of art history and the practice of museum curating. She holds a Master’s degree in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Bachelor of Art Theory from Tel Aviv University, and a degree in Art Administration from the Bank Boston Foundation in Montevideo. She is the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership and the Director of Curatorial Affairs for Fieldwork Collaborative Projects NFP (FIELDWORK).

Merav Argov is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in the Urban Planning and Policy Department. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 1997 from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel. She has participated in civic planning and programing in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Amsterdam and Chicago, with insight into urban planning, art installations as well as programing and spatial enterprises. Along with art and environment planning and consultancy, she has worked at Bezalel Public Advocates in Jerusalem, and with the Arabic-Jewish organization for co-existence and democracy in Jaffa. Her works are shown at the Rosenthal Museum in Germany. Argov’s work dealing with the relation between people and their environment has been reviewed and featured in the Haaretz Magazine.

Andrew Schachman designs environments, infrastructures, and installations. He is the executive co-director of two organizations that are experimental spaces for delivering arts and culture within existing metropolitan networks: Floating Museum and Fieldwork Collaborative Projects. Trained as an architect, he designed and managed projects for the offices of Zaha Hadid, Perkins and Will, Carol Ross Barney, and Doug Garofalo. His projects have received numerous awards including the Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.  Principal of Studio Andrew Schachman, he recently completed the design for the Palais de Tokyo’s exhibition, “Singing Stones,” in the roundhouse of the DuSable Museum of African American History. Andrew is a Studio Associate Professor in the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

For more information on the exhibition, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Unraveling Modern Living, click here.



Exploring the Grahamlener Bilbraoducers Commons
Cultural ReProducers with Hui-min Tsen
Dec 07, 2019 (10am)
Family Program

As space is limited and this event requires waivers, please complete this form to express interest in participating. Completion of this form does not guarantee a reservation.

Come explore the Graham Foundation! Participants will be given a diverse range of prompts and sent out to interact with the historic Madlener House and Tatiana Bilbao's exhibition, Unraveling Modern Living. What will you discover? How will you perceive the building? On return from your explorations your tales and impressions will be woven into the broader story of the building and some of Tatiana Bilbao's ideas. This family event is recommended for all ages.

Hui-min Tsen
is a photo-based, interdisciplinary artist whose work contemplates the spatial and mental landscapes residing in the gap between Here and There. In projects ranging from walking tours to boat building to works on paper, she uses research and observation to interweave stories of history and the collective imagination with our everyday experience of place and the unknown. Tsen received a BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts, and an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited and published with the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago Artist's Coalition, MDW Fair, and Sector 2337, among others. Her book, "The Pedway of Today" was published by Green Lantern Press in 2013. She currently teaches photography at Loyola University.

Image: Courtesy Hui-min Tsen

For more information on the exhibition, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Unraveling Modern Living, click here.


Unless otherwise noted,
all events take place at:

Madlener House
4 West Burton Place, Chicago


Wednesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
and by appointment


Directions to Madlener House


Events are held in the ballroom on the third floor which is only accessible by stairs.
The first floor of the Madlener House is accessible via an outdoor lift. Please call 312.787.4071 to make arrangements.