Sherry Memorial Poet Lecture by Cecilia Vicuña

Tuesday, April 3
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Cecilia Vicuña, a poet and artist who will serve as the 2018 Sherry Poet-in-Residence and whose artwork will be exhibited at the Neubauer Collegium gallery this spring, will be in residence at the Creative Writing Program the week of April 1-5. On April 3 she will deliver the Pearl Andelson Sherry Memorial Poet Lecture at the Neubauer Collegium. On April 5 she will give the Sherry Memorial Poetry Reading at the Logan Center for the Arts. Both events are sponsored by the Program in Poetry & Poetics at the University of Chicago.

ABOUT CECILIA VICUÑA: Cecilia Vicuña is a poet, artist, filmmaker and activist who has been based in New York City since 1980. Born in Santiago de Chile in 1948, Vicuña came of age in a time of great cultural ferment, making drawings and paintings that reflected the joyous revolutionary hopes of her era. Forced into exile after Augusto Pinochet’s coup against the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, Vicuña moved to London and later Bogotá. It is during these nomadic years that she fine-tuned her so-called precarios—minute, ephemeral sculptures, fleeting thoughts captured in space—and made the pre-Columbian art of the quipu her own in signature immersive installations composed of fabric, thread and wool: three-dimensional poems with a strong performative undercurrent that mines the living dialogue between image, word and deed, the ancestral and the avant-garde. The transience and intimacy of much of her work contrasts starkly with her recurring thematic concerns of cultural homogenization, ecological destruction, political agency and everyday utopianism.    

A partial list of art institutions that have exhibited her work includes: the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago de Chile; the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Whitechapel Gallery in London; Art in General, the Drawing Center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Berkeley Art Museum; the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans; the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. In 2017, her work was featured prominently in documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens, where two monumental site-specific quipu installations were shown alongside her agitpop paintings from the early 1970s. Vicuña is represented by Lehmann Maupin in New York, England & Co. in London, and Galeria Patricia Ready in Santiago de Chile.

Cecilia Vicuña has published twenty-two art and poetry books, including About to Happen (Siglio Press, 2017), Read Thread: The Story of the Red Thread (Sternberg Press, 2017), Kuntur Ko (Torn Sound, 2015); Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012); Saborami (ChainLinks, 2011), Instan (Kelsey Street Press, 2001) and Cloud Net (Art in General, 2000). Her Selected Poems is forthcoming from Kelsey Street Press. In 2009, she co-edited The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry: 500 Years of Latin American Poetry. She edited ÜL: Four Mapuche Poets in 1997. She was appointed the Messenger Lecturer at Cornell University in 2015, an honor bestowed on authors who contribute to the “evolution of civilization for the special purpose of raising the moral standard of our political, business, and social life.” She is the 2018 Sherry Memorial Poet in Residence at the University of Chicago’s Program in Poetry and Poetics.

ABOUT THE PEARL ANDELSON SHERRY MEMORIAL POETRY READING AND LECTURE: The Pearl Andelson Sherry Memorial Poetry Reading and Lecture honor the life and work of former University of Chicago student Pearl Andelson Sherry. Pearl Andelson Sherry was born on the west side of Chicago in 1899. Despite objections from her father, she attended the University for one year, probably in 1916–1917. During that time, Pearl Sherry met a group of writers and poets involved in the Poetry Club, including Ivor Winters, Janet Lewis, and John Toigo; she remained friends with the members of the Poetry Club for the rest of her life. This literary circle nurtured Pearl Sherry’s own aspirations as a writer, and she began her writing career working at Poetry magazine with Harriet Monroe. Her first book of poetry, Fringe, was published in 1923. Her poetry, fiction, and reviews appeared in many periodicals, including Dial, Poetry, New Republic, Chelsea, and the Southern Review. Pearl Sherry continued to write and publish poetry until shortly before she died in 1996. Established in 1997 through a gift from the Sherry Family, the Pearl Andelson Sherry Memorial Fund annually brings a major contemporary poet to the University of Chicago to work with students and to present the Pearl Andelson Sherry Memorial Poetry Reading and Lecture.