Exhibits

Food cultures of the Middle East and Asia

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Exhibit Dates: October 1 – December 31, 2018

For their second joint exhibit, five area-studies librarians on the fifth floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library celebrate the diversity of food cultures from across their areas of expertise.

Collage of paintings with food being served

Jee-Young Park on Korean cuisine

With a rich and long history, Korean cuisine has evolved through centuries of social and cultural change. From royal court cuisine to the food of commoners and regional specialties, the main ingredients of Korean food are constant: rice, meat, seafood and vegetables. Today, an everyday meal typically includes one or two main dishes, short-grain rice and a number of side dishes (panch’an) including kimchi. For many, food is inseparable from cultural and historical identity. As methods of harvest and preservation gradually took shape over centuries, seasonal customs spread across the peninsula and dining etiquette grew more elaborate. Korean scholars have turned to food as a medium through which to interpret history and culture and likewise has played an important part in the works of artists and writers across time.

Laura A. Ring on historical foodways in South Asia

The Library makes available a wealth of primary resources for the study of historical foodways in South Asia. Shown are verses in praise of food in the Rigveda, a collection of ancient Hindu hymns in early Sanskrit (circa 1500 to 1200 BCE.); food and diet therapy in the Suśruta Saṃhitā, the earliest known treatise on Ayurvedic medicine (circa mid first millennium B.C.E.); and pictorial representations of food in the Niʻmatnāma, a 15th-century manuscript of recipes, remedies, and aphrodisiacs of the Sultans of Mandu (Madhya Pradesh, India).

Marlis J. Saleh on coffee in the Middle East

From the time of its first cultivation in the fifteenth century, coffee has played an important role in the culture of the Middle East. Shown are a sixteenth-century text discussing religious controversies relating to the permissibility of coffee; a seventeenth-century report (and translation) on the social upheaval caused by the appearance of coffeehouses in Istanbul; a nineteenth-century Englishman’s description of coffee as the center of Bedouin hospitality; and a modern scholarly work on the history of coffee and coffeehouses in the Middle East.

Jiaxun Wu on Chinese cuisine

Chinese cuisine is not only renowned by its taste, but also is part of culture. The history of Chinese cuisine can be traced back to pre-Qin period. Through the thousands of years, it has continuously developed. In the meantime, it is marked by both variety and change, including cooking styles, methods, ingredients, and recipes. It also shows continuous absorption of diverse foreign influences. The book, Encyclopedia of Chinese Cooking, first discusses the beginning and development of cooking on Chinese food, and imperial cuisine through the ages. The book further introduces the different schools of Chinese cuisines, and cooking and cuisine of minorities.

Ayako Yoshimura on condiments in Japanese culture

Selected from the Japanese collection are books that introduce the effect of condiments in Japanese cuisine, and that feature the culture of railway dining cars (one often-overlooked area in which to trace how Japan adopted “Western” cultural elements).

 

“Pro svobodu a samostatnost”: The Struggle for Czechoslovak Independence, 1914-1918

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: September 26, 2018 – January 7, 2019

Plaque of the Bohemian National Alliance in America, 1918

Plaque of the Bohemian National Alliance in America, 1918

On October 28, 1918, the National Committee (Národní výbor) in Prague formally proclaimed the formation of an independent Czechoslovak state and enacted its first laws. This proclamation was the culmination of a four-year political and military struggle to liberate the Czech and Slovak peoples from Austro-Hungarian rule and to give them scope for their own political and cultural self-determination.

The creation of the Czechoslovak Republic brought together two distinct but closely-related ethnic groups – the Czechs and the Slovaks. Although speaking closely related West Slavic languages, these two groups had historically belonged to political spheres: under the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the Czech lands lay in the northwestern part of Cisleithania, the part of the empire ruled by Austria, while Slovak territory formed part of Transleithania, the section of the empire ruled by Hungary. Inasmuch as the Hapsburg rulers of Austro-Hungary favored German language and culture in Austria and Hungarian language and culture in Hungary, both Czechs and Slovaks, deeply affected by movements of national revival in the early 19th century, considered their respective nations to be treated as second-class citizens within Austria-Hungary and sought greater autonomy for themselves.

With the coming of the First World War, Czech and Slovak efforts for autonomy became efforts for independence from Austro-Hungarian rule. Much of this activity took place outside of the Czech and Slovak homelands. After Czech and Slovak leaders in America agreed to join forces to fight for a single shared state, the Czechoslovak National Council in Paris, led by Czech philosopher and future Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, became the organizational center for the Czechoslovak struggle for independence. Volunteer military forces of Czech and Slovak soldiers – the Czechoslovak Legions – sprang up in France, Russia, and Italy, and fought alongside the Allied Forces, winning recognition for their exploits in the field. Czech and Slovak communities abroad, such as the Bohemian National Alliance and the Slovak League in the United States offered vital political, economic, and material support to the cause of independence. The efforts of all these different Czech, Slovak, and Czechoslovak organizations led to recognition of Czechoslovak national sovereignty by the Allied nations and the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic. This two-case exhibit includes publications, pictures, maps, and artifacts that document and celebrate these varied efforts towards Czechoslovak independence.

The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of June Pachuta Farris, former Slavic Librarian and a passionate advocate of the Archives of Czechs and Slovaks Abroad (ACASA).

Czech-American poster published by the Bohemian National Alliance and Union of Czech Catholics, celebrating the official recognition of the Czechoslovak nation by the United States.

Czech-American poster published by the Bohemian National Alliance and Union of Czech Catholics, celebrating the official recognition of the Czechoslovak nation by the United States.

T.G. Masaryk (1850-1937) in Chicago with Czech-American leaders, May 1918

T.G. Masaryk (1850-1937) in Chicago with Czech-American leaders, May 1918

Celebrating the Poetry of Asia and the Middle East

Collage of images derived from itemsin the exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

 


Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Exhibit Dates: May 1 – June 30, 2018

For their inaugural joint exhibit, five area-studies librarians on the fifth floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library celebrate poetry from their own areas of expertise. The items highlight the diversity of poetry traditions.

Shown are one item to represent each of the three major poetic traditions of the Islamic Middle East: Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish. Each item also offers an example of their respective traditions of manuscript illumination.

  • Laura Ring, Librarian for Southern Asia and Anthropology

Southern Indian Akam or love poems from the classical Tamil anthology Aiṅkuṟunūṟu.

Having followed one of the major incidents in Korean history, the poems provide insight to moments of sorrow, pain, forgiveness, and hope resulting from and surrounding the Jeju 4.3 Uprising in 1948.

Poetry in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) is an unparalleled system reaching its pinnacle in the development of the poem. Its great value consists of an ideal combination of thoughts and art. Li Bai and Du Fu are considered two superstar Tang Poets.

Shown are poems composed in the traditional fixed forms waka, haiku, and senryū.

“Library Adventures in a Digital Age,” a history of medicine pop-up display

Library Adventures in a Digital Age

Join Dr. Mindy Schwartz, Professor of Medicine and Associate Program Director for Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, in the Special Collections Research Center for a special pop-up display of rare medical history collections.

Library Adventures in a Digital Age:
Chicago Connections
Friday, October 26, 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Special Collections Research Center
Regenstein Library, 1st floor

View a selection of books and objects from our collections that enhance our understanding of the history of science and medicine, and learn how they can be used for research and teaching. A resource guide will be available.

For more information about the event, contact the Special Collections Research Center.

Place of Protest: Chicago’s Legacy of Dissent, Declaration, and Disruption

How have protesters in Chicago occupied space with their bodies, voices, and possessions? What do their strategies reveal about a protest’s purpose and message?

A large group of people with signs protesting

Strikers and sympathizers gather at Republic Steel rally, Chicago, Illinois, June 2, 1937. Source: Chicago History Museum.

Explore fifteen case studies of protest in Chicago spanning nearly 150 years of the city’s history in the Chicago Collections Consortium’s new digital exhibit, Place of Protest: Chicago’s Legacy of Dissent, Declaration, and Disruption, curated by Rachel Boyle, PhD.

From a makeshift bomb hurled into a crowd of police officers and laborers in Haymarket Square to a city-wide boycott of Chicago Public Schools in protest of continued segregation, the exhibit tells the stories of dissent among labor, civil rights, and antiwar protesters through archival images, documents, and oral histories curated from libraries and cultural institutions around Chicago. The interactive exhibit encourages navigation though a timeline of events as well as an interactive map that reveals how local declarations uniquely expressed national tensions and the ways in which memories of protest shape Chicagoans’ responses to urban conflict.

The University of Chicago Library contributed scans of items in its ACT UP Chicago collection to the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 1991 page of the web exhibit, which explores the ways the LGBTQ community asserted its needs outside a convention of medical professionals.

Protesters at Chicago HIlton and Towers, 1991

Nightlines Weekly, July 3, 1991. Source: ACT UP Chicago Records 1969 – 1996, University of Chicago.

About Chicago Collections and the University of Chicago Library

Chicago Collections is a consortium of libraries, museums, and other institutions with archives that collaborate to preserve and share the history and culture of the Chicago region.  The University of Chicago is a governing member of the consortium, and the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center has contributed 356 archival finding aids describing collections that document Chicago urban history and 1078 digital images from its collections that depict Chicago urban settings and events in the city.

Censorship and Information Control

Censorship and Information Control: A Global History from the Inquisition to the Internet

The cover of the "Complete Unabridged" edition of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" with the title and author's name blacked out

In 2002 Penguin released this commemorative edition of “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” with the title and Orwell’s name blacked out as if censored, as a tribute to the book’s unique contributions to discourse about censorship. George Orwell. “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” New York: Penguin, 2002. On loan from Ada Palmer.

Exhibition Dates: September 17 – December 14, 2018
Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL
Associated website: voices.uchicago.edu/censorship

Why do people censor? For ambition? Religion? Profit? Power? Fear? This global history of attempts to control or silence information, from antiquity’s earliest written records to our new digital world, examines how censorship has worked, thrived, or failed in different times and places, and shows how real censorship movements tend to be very different from the centralized, methodical, top-down censorship depicted in Orwell’s 1984, which so dominates how we imagine censorship today. From indexes of forbidden books, to manuscripts with passages inked out by Church Inquisitors, to comics and pornography, to self-censorship and the subtle censorship of manipulating translations or teaching biased histories, the banned and challenged materials in this exhibit will challenge you to answer: how do you define what is and isn’t censorship?

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., and, when University of Chicago classes are in session, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

Curator

Ada Palmer, Associate Professor History, The University of Chicago

Ada Palmer is a historian and novelist, who works on transmission of radical ideas in hostile intellectual environments. She specializes in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, but also looks from antiquity to modernity for patterns in the ways societies respond to unwelcome ideas.  Her publications include work on Lucretius and atomism in the Renaissance, on revivals of Platonism, Pythagoreanism, stoicism, and heterodox ideas about the soul and afterlife, and censorship of comic books in Japan after World War II.  She is also the author of the science fiction series Terra Ignota, which imagines censorship’s evolution into the 25th century.

Related Events

A public dialogue series brings together scholars of print revolutions past and present with practitioners working on the frontiers of today’s information revolution.  Eight dialogues will unite historians, editors, novelists, poets, and activists, and will be filmed and shared online, to let the public enjoy and continue the discussions.

Sessions are open to the public, and will take place Fridays from 1:30 to 4:20 pm on the University of Chicago Campus, in Kent Room 107, on October 5, 12, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, and 30.

Visit voices.uchicago.edu/censorship/dialogueseries/ for more information.

 

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download to members of the media and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.

For more information, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.

The Cage

Colorful fortune tellers with punctuation marks

Fortune tellers from the exhibit “The Cage.” (Photo by Marina Resende)

Exhibit dates: May 30–June 4, 2018
Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, First Floor, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL

Thirteen hundred “fortune tellers” will be exhibited on the First Floor of Regenstein Library. Inside them are snippets of Henry James’s novella In The Cage.

The Cage functions as a continual re-assemblage of the book. The original novella tells the story of a young woman who works as a telegraph operator at the post office. Through the novella she tries to piece together narratives from the terse telegrams she sends between the members of the upper class. This is, essentially, the mission of the installation as well—phrases have been isolated from within the text and scrambled, leaving only the traces of their original meaning.

Hands fold a fortune teller with text inside

A fortune teller for the exhibit “The Cage” includes snippets of text from Henry James’s novella “In The Cage.” (Photo by Maria Resende)

Visitors to the Regenstein will be invited to play with the fortune tellers, which will result in receiving a phrase and a punctuation mark. This phrase will then be added to a notebook, called the Facsimile, which accompanies the exhibit. Participants will be challenged to determine which form of connection (or non-connection) best completes the addition. The chance connections between phrases and people will create an unpredictable, collaborative re-assemblage of the original text.

The installation was created for “Studio R-A,” an art theory class taught in collaboration with the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. The class focuses on the practice of re-assemblage, which is the combining of disparate elements to create a new whole.

This project was led by students Kevin Beerman, Kirsten Ihns, Marina Resende, and Katie Akin, with guidance from Professors Bill Brown and Ted Brown, as well as artist/collaborator Ann Hamilton. Special thanks to Course Assistants Gabe Moreno and Brandon Truett, fellow students Cecília Resende Santos, Eva Murasov, JP Henry, Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield, Leah Chapell, Derek Ernster, Christopher Good, Tianyu Guo, Jola Idowu, Gray Center curator Zach Cahill, and George Scheer (Executive Director of Elsewhere Museum & Artist Residency). Finally, much gratitude is due to the Regenstein Library staff for their accommodation and the friends who helped with folding.

Three students prepare colorful fortune tellers

University of Chicago students Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield (PhD, English), Kirsten Ihns (PhD, English), and Katie Akin (College) prepare colorful fortune tellers for the exhibit “The Cage.” Inside the fortune tellers are snippets of Henry James’s novella “In The Cage.” The exhibit functions as a continual re-assemblage of the book. (Photo by Marina Resende)

Play on Surfaces & Surfing: New Sculpture by Jessica Stockholder

Installation dates:  May 17 – June 7, 2018
Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th Street, First Floor, Chicago, IL 
Hours
: Mondays to Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Fridays, 8:30a.m.–5 p.m.; and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Opening reception and book signing:  May 17, 4:30–6:30 p.m., Regenstein Library Room 122 – RSVP

Jessica Stockholder, “Ceded,” 2017, Scanner, seed pods, paper maché, oil and acrylic paint, plastic part, table.

Artist statement about the installation

Artwork of CPU, oil paint, silk fabric, vinyl, table, hardware

Jessica Stockholder, “Sorrow,” 2017, CPU, oil paint, silk fabric, vinyl, table, hardware.

Three works are installed in the library where they exist in and amongst other objects that they are similar to.  Each of the works, Sorrow, Keeping Abreast, and Ceded takes as its staring point a generic desktop electronic device. These devices are all produced in multiple; in this way they are part of a grid of production and distribution that is much bigger than they are, and each one is greeted with an expectation that it will be the same as many others. These sculptures surf the wave of that expectation, and though each work takes a generic electronic box as its point of origin, the work is in the end unique.

All surfaces present an opportunity for illusion and storytelling. The surfaces of these boxes are replete with meaning before I get near them. They ask to be taken for granted. They present some small allure for the new owner, but the colors are neutral, the two-toned color scheme they often sport is quiet, and allows for stylistic change from year to year. Their exterior bears little relation to their interior function; the exterior surface of the box is designed to insinuate itself into our lives, to sit amongst the designs of interior home, office and library spaces.

My interventions in these surfaces propose variation, eccentricity, drama, humor, beauty and discomfort; new possibilities, and the suggestion that individual affect matters, are injected into the flow of the grid that these machines are a part of.

—Jessica Stockholder, April 2018


Organized by Laura Steward, Curator of Public Art, Smart Museum of Art

From Sausage to Hot Dog: the Evolution of an Icon – new web exhibit

A web exhibit of the 2013 Crerar exhibit From Sausage to Hot Dog: the Evolution of an Icon is now available.  The original exhibit was shown in the atrium of Crerar Library from October 29 — December 31, 2013.

Description: The hot dog is an American creation, and Chicago even has its own style. But where did this popular food come from and how did it develop? This exhibit looks to the hot dog’s origins in sausage-making practices brought by European immigrants to the Midwest. We consider techniques used in neighborhood butcher shops and the rise of industrial meat production. Homemade recipes and artisanal makers past and present are also examined.

War, Trauma, Memory

Soldier in front of flag on cover of the Anzac Book

Cover, The Anzac Book. 1916. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Exhibition Dates: April 30 – August 31, 2018
Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL

It seems an understatement to note that war is traumatic to those who experience it in any way, shape or form. The pieces in this exhibition reflect their creators’ experiences in wars from the 16th century through the present day. Each was published or made public by their creators; by that action the creator invites us into the captured moment. We see, not a moment of trauma itself but a time after that moment, whether that be seconds or years. In this exhibition, the trauma of war is represented by that very absence of trauma, through the experience creators share with viewers, listeners or readers.

Here, photographs by soldiers or journalists at the scene share space with expressions of the effect of war created at a greater remove. Events are recounted at a personal, intimate level as in portraits of families or on a grand scale: the destruction of Dresden. Over time, images retain their power but may no longer serve the purpose for which they were made. For example, some of the items were created to be propaganda and here are displayed as art or as a curiosity. At times an overt intent of the creator or bias of the image is evident, and at others we need to remind ourselves that creators may have emotions hidden even from themselves. With images of war, in particular, the observer’s relationships to the conflict will affect the ways in which the object is understood. How many recall the stakes of the 30 Years War?

Drawing of soldiers

Jean Louis Forain. Le Poilu psychologue, [1918]. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Anchoring the exhibition is Francisco Goya’s Los desastres de la guerra, a book of prints etched in the early 19th century, left unpublished until 1863 for fear of censorship. The suite of plates Goya created in response to suffering he witnessed during the Napoleonic wars is considered to contain the first eyewitness images of war reporting. The book is opened to Plate 44 “Yo lo vi” (I saw it).

Indeed “Yo lo vi”: the images, sculpture, poetry, and music here are haunted by the very absence of violence and the persistence of memory.

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., and, when University of Chicago classes are in session, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

Yo lo vi

Francisco Goya. Plate 44, “Yo lo vi,” Los desastres de la guerra, 1893. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Related Event

In the Wake of the Bombs: Germany, 1945

May 14, 5 p.m.
Regenstein Library, Room 122

Professor Françoise Meltzer will speak about the book she is currently completing on the bombing of Germany in World War II: Through a Lens, Darkly. The talk is based on a series of photographs of the ruins taken by her mother in 1945.

Meltzer is the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Professor in the Divinity School and the College, and Chair of Comparative Literature.

Cost: Free

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download by members of the media and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.

For more information, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.

Migration Stories: book spines there burrowed

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Third Floor
Dates: March 27 – June 9, 2018
Public reading: April 19, 5:30 p.m.

A composite photograph showing a clenched fist holding a blurred driver’s license with three watches around the hand, wrist and forearm.

UndocuTime by Alejandro Monroy, AM’17, 2017.

Come to read and see writing and art drawing on experiences of migration.  This exhibit features the work of University of Chicago community members and of student writers and photographers including Urvi Khumbhat, Felipe Bomeny, Erik Mueller, and Gautama Mehta, together with that of faculty Vidura Bahadur, Laura Letinsky, Srikanth Reddy and Vu Tran. This wonderful work can be understood anew seeing it creatively set and reset among the beautiful and disturbing pages of artists’ books, including work by Zarina, Ana Mendieta, Paul Chan, Eva Fuková, Jacob Lawrence, Gerhard Richter, Mona Hatoum, and more.

Migration experiences may be full of disaster and hope, disorientation and transformation, and they generate stories, reflections, and images to be carried in turn.  The Migration Stories Project, begun through the University of Chicago creative writing program, has recently produced an anthology with some thirty stories, poems, essays, and documentary photographs from a huge variety of places and people who now live near the University of Chicago.  The anthology has taken its place in the Regenstein Library collection, and this installation celebrates the bravery and work of anthology contributors with the exhibition: book spines there burrowed.

A faded, horizontally printed page with dense columns of Japanese written characters and eight small blue-toned landscape photographs.

Japanese Historical Map. Awaji Annai by Hanshichi Bando, Meiji 36 [1903]

In three glass cases, the work of Migration Stories contributors is drawn together with art books from the Library’s collection, creating an art installation of its own.  Migration Stories: book spines there burrowed was curated by two University of Chicago students, Amber Collins and Lydia Mullin, who used for their title a line from contributor Jacqueline Feng’s poetry.  In the curators’ vision, the exhibition is “told in three parts: mapping, making home, and photographing motion.” They write that “its seams are not pulled from any one contribution to the anthology, but are instead made from the words, phrases, and sentences of its texts or the hues and negative spaces of its photographs.”  Come and contemplate art and writing that grow out of the human experience of migration, an experience that is a part of the history of every member of the University of Chicago community and of our larger neighborhood and community.

Related Event

A special, free public reading by anthology contributors and University of Chicago creative writing faculty will be held at the Regenstein Library, Room 122 on Thursday, April 19th, at 5:30 pm.

Related Resources

Migration Stories: A Community Anthology, 2017 is available in Knowledge@UChicago, the University of Chicago’s digital repository.

New Harry Potter book display and research guide

Harry Potter Book Display

Display of books about the Harry Potter series. Photo by Rebecca Starkey.

Do you need a little bit of magic during reading period and finals week? Take a break from studying by visiting our new display of Harry Potter materials on the 1st floor of Regenstein (near the Dissertation Office). This one-case display highlights just a few of the items available at the University of Chicago Library about the Harry Potter series, including translations, critical studies, and parodies.

For more Potter-related materials in our collections, visit our accompanying Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling Research Guide which includes links to ebooks, reference sources, music, and more.

Remember, if you need help locating research materials on Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, children’s literature, or just need help with your final paper, Ask a Librarian!

“Because that’s what Hermione does,’ said Ron, shrugging. ‘When in doubt, go to the library.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Rhythm and Bombast: In Memory of Willie Pickens (1931-2017)

Willie Pickens at Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park

Willie Pickens at Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, July 2011 (Viewminder, CC BY-NC-ND)

Exhibit Dates: February 19 – April 29, 2018
Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor

“I don’t have big paws like Oscar [Peterson] or a nice, big stretch like Benny Green’s. . . . I have to create illusions, make it sound like I’m doing something I’m not.”
— Willie Pickens (Lloyd Sachs, “Willie Pickens Rides Jazz Machine to Glory,” Chicago Sun Times, March 13, 1994)

Internationally known Jazz pianist and Hyde Park resident, Willie Pickens, passed away on Tuesday, December 12, after practicing for a “Jazz at Lincoln Center” show at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York. Pickens was known for his bombastic style and thunderous sound, paired with a melodic and harmonic ingenuity and versatility. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 18, 1931. One of six children, his mother, Minny Hall, was a pianist who exposed him to music at an early age. Young Willie took to the piano early, practicing for hours at a time as a boy.

He graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1955, with a BA in music education, and soon after moved to Chicago. In Chicago, Pickens found his place among the jazz community, in which he would excel as a musician, a teacher, and a mentor. Pickens achieved international acclaim with his piano work on Eddie Harris’ hit recording “Exodus,” from the gold record “Exodus to Jazz,” released by Chicago-based VeeJay records in 1961. He released his recording debut as a trio leader with his 1998 album “It’s About Time” on Southport Records. During his career, he toured with Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Louis Bellson, Bunky Green, and Red Holloway. He appeared regularly at the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival.

Willie Pickens’ debut album, “It’s About Time”

Willie Pickens’ debut album as a trio leader, “It’s About Time” (Southport Records, 1998)

Willie Pickens was a devoted teacher and mentor, including to his daughter, jazz pianist Bethany Pickens. He taught in Chicago high schools from 1966-1997. He launched the music program at Hyde Park’s Kenwood Academy in the 1960s. Bethany Pickens currently teaches in this program. In 1995, he became a founding member of the Ravinia Jazz Mentor Program, and in 1997 joined the faculty of Northern Illinois University’s School of Music.

This exhibit in two cases displays examples of Pickens’ work from the University of Chicago Library’s general collection, as well as materials from the Chicago Jazz Archive.

An online exhibit is available as well.

The social media post announcing the passing of Willie Pickens

The social media post announcing the passing of Willie Pickens, from his daughter, Bethany Pickens (reproduced with permission)