March 22-24, 2015


The Artists Assembly brings together 2014 USA Fellows, Alumni from the Midwest/Great Plains region and invited USA donors, partners, and funders to discuss their work, share ideas, and identify opportunities for collaboration and support.

Over 3 days we will experience some of Chicago’s best arts organizations, hear from Fellows about their work and celebrate USA’s uniquely diverse cohort of American artists.

The Artists Assembly is made possible with generous support from: Chicago Community Trust, The Joyce Foundation, Northern Trust, The Rasmuson Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, United States Artists Board of Trustees and The W Chicago Lakeshore.

The Artists Assembly is an invitation only gathering.

March 22

Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street

5:00-6:00pm  ∙  Poetry Foundation Tour

Poetry Foundation Tour with architect John Ronan (Registration required)


6:00-8:00pm  ∙  Readings + Performance

Readings by 2014 USA Fellows Chris Abani, Natalie Diaz and Achy Obejas. 

March 23

10:00am-2:00pm  ∙  CHICAGO EXCURSION I

Tour of Dorchester Projects with USA 2012 Kippy Fellow Theaster Gates followed by lunch at The Currency Exchange Café


2:30pm-5:30pm  ∙  CHICAGO EXCURSION II

A performance, discussion and workshop with Hubbard Street Dance Center in collaboration with The Second City and featuring 2014 USA Donnelley Fellow Alejandro Cerrudo.

March 24

W Chicago Lakeshore
644 N. Lakeshore Drive

9:30am  ∙ Welcome Remarks

A full day of artist-led dialogue and presentations Powered by PechaKucha Lunch included.



Artists and Developers as Community Stabilizers

Mark Bradford, USA Broad Fellow in Visual Arts, Founder- Art + Practice Foundation
Mitch Cope, Founder- Power House Productions
Steve Oliver, Chair- USA Board of Trustees, President- Oliver & Company

USA Broad Fellow Mark Bradford, co-founder of Art + Practice, will be in conversation with Mitch Cope co-founder of Detroit’s Power House Productions about ways artists are working as instigators, philanthropists, stabilizers and space shapers in their communities. They will discuss the myriad strategies they are using to identify and address needs in their respective communities and how that work functions alongside their creative practices.

The conversation will be moderated by USA’s Board Chair Steve Oliver, President of Oliver & Company and Board member of the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), whose background in construction has enabled him to use innovative funding, development and partnership models to create permanent space for arts organizations in one of the most quickly gentrifying parts of the country, California’s San Francisco region. 


11:00am-11:15am  ∙  Break


11:00am-11:15am  ∙ USA FELLOWS PRESENTATIONS powered by PechaKucha

  • Doris Sung (2014, Architecture and Design)
  • Rowland Ricketts (2012, Crafts and Traditional Arts)
  • Sydney Freeland (2014, Media)
  • Aleksander Hemon (2012, Literature)
  • Tip Toland (2014, Crafts and Traditional Arts)
  • Benjamin Ball (2007, Architecture and Design)
  • Deanna Dikeman (2008, Visual Arts)
  • Sandow Birk (2014, Visual Arts)
  • Nicholas Galanin (2012, Crafts and Traditional Arts)

(PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where the presenter shows 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and the presenter talks along to the images.)

“Powered by PechaKucha” events are one-off events that are separate from regular city-based PechaKucha Nights, and are usually held as part of festivals and conferences, but can also act as standalone events.


12:30pm-1:30pm  ∙  Lunch



Fairs, Festivals & Biennials: Art in places, artists in spaces

Sarah Herda, Artistic Director- Chicago Architecture Biennial, Director- Graham Foundation
Tony Karman, President- EXPO CHICAGO
Sam Miller, President- Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Leaders from the Chicago Architecture Biennial, EXPO CHICAGO and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council will be in conversation around how fairs, festivals and biennials bring art to places and what role artists play in those spaces. They will speak to the trends they see in how artists are interacting with space in 2015 and how large-scale events provide opportunities and sometimes challenges to meaningful engagement with audiences. The conversation will be moderated by USA’s CEO Carolina García Jayaram.


3:00pm-4:00pm  ∙ USA FELLOWS PRESENTATIONS powered by PechaKucha

  • Einar de la Torre & Jamex de la Torre (2014, Crafts and Traditional Arts) 
  • Natalie Diaz (2014, Literature)
  • d. Sabela grimes (2014, Dance)
  • Marlon Blackwell (2014, Architecture and Design)
  • Matthew Goulish & Lin Hixson (2009, Dance)
  • Alison Brown (2014, Music)


4:00pm-4:15pm  ∙  Break



Why do we collaborate when it’s so hard?

Ella Baff, Executive & Artistic Director - Jacob’s Pillow Dance
Rosalba Rolón, USA Fontanals Fellow, USA Board Member, Artistic Director- Pregones Theater
Jane M. Saks, President & Artistic Director - Project&
Kamal Sinclair, Co-Director - Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Program

Leaders from Jacob’s Pillow, Pregones Theater, Project&, and the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Program will discuss how they approach collaboration. In a free ranging discussion on stage and with the audience, this group will expand the idea of collaboration across disciplines, geographies, contexts and practices, addressing how and why they collaborate with individuals inside and outside the arts.

The conversation will be moderated by USA’s Director of Programs, Meg Leary.


8:00pm-11:00pm  ∙  Closing Reception Celebrating The 2014 Fellows

Featuring a performance by 2014 USA Cummings Fellow Meshell Ndegeocello.

DJ sets by Tess, hors d’oeuvres presented by W Chicago Lakeshore, craft beer by Revolution Brewing, and custom crafted cocktails by Hennessy.


The Artists Assembly is made possible with generous support from: