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The Artist as Public Intellectual: Strategies for Right Now

Friday, April 21, 2017 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm

Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to partner with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for Lake FX CreativeCon 2017, the region’s largest FREE conference for artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Rooted in his experience as a curator, art historian, educator, and administrator, James Merle Thomas will discuss the role of the artist and arts institutions during times of societal change. By examining the transformative potential of artist-run organizations as platforms for critical exchange in civic landscapes, we aim to identify productive strategies for our current historical moment.

James Merle Thomas is a Curator and Art Historian based in Philadelphia, where he serves as Executive Director of Vox Populi—the city’s longest-running not-for-profit arts collective—and teaches Global Contemporary Art at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. 

A historian of the art, technology, and politics of the Cold War and contemporary periods, Thomas holds a doctorate in Art History from Stanford University (2014), and was most recently a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His 2015 exhibition, Loose in Some Real Tropics: Robert Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon Projects, 1969–71, was produced in collaboration with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford University. Along with collaborator Meghan O’Hara, he is co-director of Tektite Revisited, an exhibition and film-based project that has recently been featured at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, the Lothringer 13 Halle in Munich, and at Parsons | the New School for Design.

Thomas previously worked as Assistant Curator and Executive Editor of Publications with Okwui Enwezor to produce a series of group exhibitions, including the Second Seville Biennial (2006), the Seventh Gwangju Biennale (2008), and the 2012 Paris Triennale.

In 2014 Thomas co-founded Quindar—a research, recording, and music performance project drawn from NASA’s media archives—with Grammy award-winning musician Mikael Jorgensen; the duo performs regularly in museum, festival, and site-specific settings, while collaborating with archivists, graphic designers, visual artists, and other musicians.

Lake FX CreativeCon

The Lake FX CreativeCon (April 21-22, 2017) is the region’s largest FREE conference for emerging artists and creatives and is designed to connect, inform and inspire "makers" in the music, dance, design, theater, and arts fields. In addition to keynote speakers, the event will feature professional development workshops, an interactive resource fair, networking opportunities, auditions in front of leading A&R label executives for selected musicians and much more.


Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibit Hall

78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL