With furniture from shuttered Chicago Public Schools, artist explores history and psychology in new exhibit

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CHICAGO — A new installation at the University of Chicago is using reclaimed furniture with a storied past to stage discussions around ­difficult topics.

“Adaptation” officially opens on Thursday at the Harris School of Public Policy’s Keller Center. It featured ­­ desks, tables and chairs from shuttered Chicago Public Schools.

John Preus is the artist. He is the 2019 Interpreter in Residence at the Smart Museum of Art.

“A lot of what I’ve been interested in is how materials hold history, psychology and the ways in which who we are and what we think about and what we care about is embedded in stuff,”­  Preus said.

Facing a budget crisis, CPS closed nearly 50 schools deemed underperforming or under-enrolled, mostly on the city’s South and West sides in 2013.

“This was about disinvesting in the very people that you were supposed to help,” said Ald. Jeanette Taylor, an education activist who was elected alderman of the 20th Ward last year.

More information on the exhibit and museum at Smart Museum’s website.

Photojournalists Steve Scheuer and Ted Parra contributed to this report.

 

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