Mary Jane Jacob

Through hundreds of exhibitions, site- specific and community-based projects, and public programs, curator Mary Jane Jacob has worked with artists to expand the practice and public discourse on art as a shared process. She has critically engaged the discourse around public space with landmark exhibitions, like Culture in Action, in Chicago, and Places with a Past, for the Spoleto Festival USA. The latter launched two decades of public activity in Charleston, South Carolina, and was hailed by Michael Brenson as “the most moving and original exhibition in the United States this season” in 1991. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Jacob currently serves as Professor and Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is spearheading a major research project on Chicago social practice.

Why we love Mary Jane Jacob:

• She took a stand against “plop art” by curating the ambitious city-wide, site specific installation program “Culture in Action” in Chicago from 1991-1993, engaging artists in direct partnership with community members to explore the changing nature of public art and its relationship to social issues

• Jacob also broke ground in 1991 with Places with a Past, an exhibition rooted in site specificity and the history of Charlestown, South Carolina, described as “the most moving and original exhibition in the United States”

• She is still kicking butt as a winner of the 2012 Curatorial Research Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation, which was awarded to support her investigation of the history of site-specific art from 1900’s to today