Spertus Museum Launches "Ground Level Projects"

(News Release) Spertus Museum is excited to launch Ground Level Projects, a dynamic new initiative consisting of a series of artist commissions for Spertus' glass-enclosed, street-level vestibule space. Premiering April 30, 2009, the project will engage four artists over a year-long period, aiming to foster creative encounters that investigate, challenge, and expand traditional perceptions of the Jewish experience. Because of Spertus' glass façade, the resulting projects will be visible from the street, connecting public and private space and encouraging passers-by to experience the works on view in the transparent entryway of the award-winning Spertus facility, located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. The commissions will ultimately be added to Spertus Museum's collection, enhancing its growing contemporary art holdings and reflecting its innovative exhibition program. Ground Level Projects, curated by Spertus Museum Senior Curator Staci Boris, is free and open to the public.

About this new initiative, Staci Boris says, "Ground Level Projects provides a street-level presence for the museum and creates additional opportunities for the broader public to engage with our programs. By presenting new works of art in our vestibule space, we connect with visitors both inside and out. We also continue our efforts to explore issues relevant to a culturally-specific institution by encouraging artists to respond to the museum's mission."

The inaugural project is a new work by Chicago-based artist Deb Sokolow, on display April 30-July 19, 2009. Sokolow's imaginative narratives of hand-drawn texts and images are loosely based on her own personal experiences as well as media stories and films she finds compelling. Spinning off into numerous tangents in an attempt to uncover "truths," these comic and often-paranoid ramblings lead viewers on a journey that rarely culminates in answers. Her large-scale drawing for Spertus is inspired by her family's Chicago history (certain family documents are part of the Chicago Jewish Archives at Spertus) and the supposedly hidden stories behind certain objects in Spertus Museum's Open Depot Colllection display.

Deb Sokolow received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. Her most recent solo exhibition, You are one step closer to learning the truth, was a site-specific installation at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City in 2008. Sokolow has participated in numerous group exhibitions including Project Heartland at the Van Abbemuseum in The Netherlands (2008-2009), Mapping the Self at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2007-2008), and The Adventurous Type at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago (2007). Sokolow is also the creator of a forthcoming bi-monthly newsletter that chronicles the buried secrets of Chicago's Division Street.

The three other Ground Level Project artists will be announced at a later date.

Staci Boris has served as Senior Curator at Spertus Museum since October 2004. She curated the inaugural exhibition for the new Spertus Museum, The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation, and organized the current exhibition, A Force for Change: African-American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, with guest curator Daniel Schulman. Before the new Spertus building was completed, Boris organized The Language Barrier, a series of three commissions by Kay Rosen, Kendell Geers, and Mel Bochner for the Michigan Avenue construction barricade. Before coming to Spertus, she served as Associate Curator at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, where she organized a number of noteworthy exhibitions including the first U.S. retrospective of South African artist William Kentridge and the first survey exhibition of works by American painter John Currin. In 2007, she was named one of the "20 people to watch" by Time Out Chicago magazine.


  • Spertus Museum Hours
  • Sunday 10 am until 5 pm
  • Wednesday 10 am until 5 pm
  • Thursday 10 am until 6 pm
  • Spertus is closed Friday and Saturday
  • Spertus Museum Admission
  • $7, $5 for students and seniors, children under 5 free, free museum admission for Spertus members.
  • Free admission for everyone every Wednesday 10 am until 12 noon and every Thursday 2 until 6 pm.
  • Viewing of Ground Level Projects is free.

Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Its award-winning new facility, designed by Chicago's Krueck & Sexton Architects, allows Spertus to better serve its longtime students and visitors and to meet the needs of new audiences with expanded programming. The new building contains enhanced classroom space for Spertus College, improved library space for the Asher Library, and expanded exhibition space for Spertus Museum, as well as a state-of-the-art theater for live performance and film, an innovative Children's Center, space for community events and celebrations, and a comprehensive book and gift shop.

For more information, visit Spertus.edu
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