Celebrating Local Culture at Chicago’s International Art Showcase

Painting, poetry + panel discussions on philanthropy: our first visit to @ExpoChicago Tweet This

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Doing new things for the first time is always a thrill—especially when you’ve been laying the groundwork for more than 100 years.

Since our founding more than a century ago, The Chicago Community Trust has been nurturing the artistic, cultural and civic vitality of metropolitan Chicago. And this September, for the first time, we participated as a Special Exhibitor at EXPO Chicago, the international exposition of contemporary and modern art held annually at Navy Pier.

A large wooden booth with a raised floor and artwork hanging on the wallsFor the Trust’s first appearance at EXPO Chicago, artist Faheem Majeed created a wood-paneled installation that transformed the white-walled galley space, and hosted a range of visual and performing arts experiences from local organizations.

For the exhibition, the Trust commissioned Chicago artist Faheem Majeed to create Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, a visually striking installation that provided a platform for conversation, and a showcase for local cultural organizations that both the Trust and Majeed support.

Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden is a part of an ongoing series of work re-using cedar panels to create a space based on the New Bauhaus-designed wood paneling of the South Side Community Art Center’s Margaret Burroughs Gallery. These wood panels serve as a didactic tool, physically recording the artists and community members that experience them.

A group of people sit on stools arranged in a circle, facing one member of the group who is speakingPoets from the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Celebration read from their work, inviting guests to step inside the booth to listen and experience the art surrounding them.

As part of the installation, the space featured sculpture and prints created by the artists of Project Onward and SkyART, as well as performances from the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Celebration and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival—all grant recipients of the Trust.

Two people talk while seated at a table, with a laptop, art materials and two small sculptures on itMajeed partnered with Trust grant recipient organizations like Project Onward, shown here, and SkyART to select artists whose work would be showcased within the installation. See inside Project Onward

In addition to participating as an exhibitor at EXPO Chicago, the Trust was thrilled to partner with Northern Trust to host a thought leadership panel on the topic of leveraging art for philanthropic impact.

Three people seated in chairs in front of an audience in a sunlit roomThe Trust’s Tim Bresnahan, left, moderated a conversation on leveraging art for charitable donation between donor and patron of the arts Madeleine Plonsker and Mac MacLellan of the Northern Trust.

The panel, moderated by senior director of gift planning Tim Bresnahan, explored how collectors can donate their art to The Chicago Community Trust to further their philanthropic goals. Long-time donor Madeleine Plonsker shared personal insights from her own experience donating art to the Trust to create a donor advised fund.

“Communicating with people who don’t have the same frame of reference as you do forces you to listen in a completely different way.” Go inside the Project Onward studio, providing professional development for artists with disabilities.

If you are a collector, or work with collectors, and would like to know more about how to leverage art for philanthropy, read more about converting art for charitable impact or contact our senior director of gift planning Tim Bresnahan at (312) 565-2832 or