Participants in the Art to Live With program, which loans limited-edition prints to University of Chicago students living in dorm halls, pose with the artworks they selected for the year. Credit: Smart Museum of Art

HYDE PARK — More than 100 University of Chicago students will transform their dorm rooms into mini-museums this school year as they borrow limited-edition artwork from Hyde Park’s Smart Museum of Art.

UChicago students living in residence halls can borrow one work of art for the 2023-2024 academic year through the Art To Live With program. Among the 140 available pieces:

  • “Man and Woman” by Pablo Picasso, 1942
  • “Quai de Bercy” by Marc Chagall, 1954
  • “Sex Anyone” by Robert Indiana, 1951
  • “Flower Ball 3D Sequoia Sempervirens” by Takashi Murakami, 2013
  • “Safe and Secure” by Faheem Majeed, 2018
  • “Cadastral Shaking” by Amanda Williams, 2018
  • “Edition for Bregenz” (four pieces) by Jenny Holzer, 2004
  • “Glance Past the Future” by Murakami and Virgil Abloh, 2018
  • “Kalamazoo Mokone” by Sam Nhlengethwa, 2016

For a full list of available artwork, click here.

“Everybody doesn’t have exposure to art in their daily lives,” said Lauren Payne, the university’s associate registrar of art and public spaces. “Having time to live with a piece can change the way you experience it over time. It’s an invaluable experience for [students] to have an opportunity to live with these pieces.”

Students receive the pieces for free and must hang the art in their dorm bedroom. They sign loan agreements requiring a certain level of care for the pieces, and Smart Museum staffers check on the works’ condition throughout the year, UChicago spokesperson Rachel Hatch said.

Damage, loss and other problems with the artwork “are handled on a case-by-case basis,” Hatch said. She did not clarify whether students face financial risk in participating.

University of Chicago students living in residence halls line up outside the Smart Museum of Art before they select artworks to borrow for the school year. Credit: Smart Museum of Art

This year’s program kicked off Thursday evening with an “Art-B-Q,” where students previewed the works on loan and enjoyed free food and music.

Festivities continue through the weekend with a pop-up exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave., followed by the Art Match event at 8 a.m. Sunday where students will select their artwork for the year.

Some students will camp out in the Smart Museum’s courtyard Saturday night to be at the front of the line for Sunday morning’s Art Match. Art to Live With organizers will provide karaoke, games, artistic tools, coffee and other activities for the night.

To participate in the campout, students must bring a valid UChicago student ID and should bring urban camping supplies like blankets, warm layers and snacks.

Art to Live With dates to 1958, when UChicago alum and Museum of Contemporary Art founding president Joseph Shapiro donated pieces to kickstart the program.

Shapiro’s initial donation mainly consisted of prints by European artists like Picasso and Marc Chagall alongside works by Chicago artists — some of which remain available to students today, school leaders said.

The program ran until the ’80s before going on a long hiatus, Payne said. The Smart Museum revived the program in 2017 and it has since continued, save for a pandemic hiatus from spring 2020 until the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

A former UChicago student poses in their dorm room with a Francisco de Goya print. Credit: Smart Museum of Art

“Everything in the collection is the Smart Museum’s” but is not displayed outside of the Art to Live With program, Payne said.

The Smart Museum’s student-led advisory committee chooses new pieces to acquire for the collection. Members search for art they think will resonate with their fellow students, then do “all of the work in creating a proposal [and] a justification on why that work would be a great addition for the collection,” Payne said.

Students can apply through Nov. 26 to serve on the advisory committee.

The rotating collection has grown to about 400 works of art, a portion of which are available this year.

Murakami’s “Flower Ball” is “always the first one students are really excited for,” Payne said.

Students will return the artwork to the Smart Museum May 7-8. For more information on the program, click here.

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