Columbia College Chicago

Women’s Work at Hull-House and Beyond: The Feminist Agenda

Come to the culminating scholar-in-residence talk, “Women’s Work at Hull-House and Beyond: The Feminist Agenda through Arts and Crafts,” presented by Melissa Potter, artist and associate professor of the Art & Art History Department at Columbia College Chicago, in conversation with Jennifer Scott, Director and Chief Curator at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.

Ellen Gates Starr and Jane Addams, co-founders of the Hull-House Settlement, believed in feminism and supported a woman-centered role in and approach to the power of art. They constructed a settlement culture with women at the center, whose traditional handicraft and domestic arts were part of an ambitious agenda to provide safe community spaces to women and support their liberation. This discussion looks at the history of woman-centric community building at Hull-House, the role of art as a powerful social and political tool to transform a society, and the influence of this work beyond the settlement. 

This talk held concurrently with "Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change at Hull-House," an exhibition and programming series exploring the history of the extensive arts programs and artist participation at Hull-House and how these efforts catalyzed social change, running now through May 3, 2019.

Melissa Potter is a multimedia artist who has exhibited at venues including White Columns, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Through three Fulbright awards, ArtsLink, the Soros Fund for Arts and Culture, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding, she built two papermaking studios at university art departments in Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina; collaborated with Georgian felt artisans and activists through her project “Craft Power” with Miriam Schaer; and developed research, documentary, and advocacy projects with ethnographers and intangible heritage experts to protect, interpret, and archive endangered women’s handicrafts and social customs. She curated “Social Paper” with Jessica Cochran, the first exhibition considering hand papermaking in a socially engaged art context, and “Revolution at Point Zero: Feminist Social Practice” with Neysa Page Lieberman, the first exhibition to consider the feminist art movement as the progenitor of contemporary socially engaged art. Her critical essays have been printed in BOMB, Art Papers, and Flash Art among others. Her work in the art of hand papermaking has been funded by the Crafts Research Fund, the Clinton Hill Foundation, and the Chicago MAKER Grant.

Jennifer Scott is a curator and public historian whose work, for over 25 years, explores connections between museums, arts, and social justice. As Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Director and Chief Curator in Chicago, she leads the exhibitions, community engagement efforts, and overall vision of the museum. Under her leadership, Hull-House addresses historical and contemporary issues of peace, incarceration, immigration, citizenship, race, gender, sexuality, and social activism through a number of groundbreaking exhibitions and programs both within and outside the museum’s walls. Recently in 2018, Hull-House launched a new exhibition, "Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change," as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s citywide Art Design Chicago initiative. Jennifer previously served as the Vice Director and Director of Research and Collections at Weeksville Heritage Center, a nationally significant museum and historic site in Brooklyn, New York that specializes in socially relevant applications of history, culture, and the arts. She is one of the co-editors for "Museums and Civic Discourse: Past, Present and Emerging Futures." Recent publications include "Designing for Outrage: Inviting Contested Truth into Museum Exhibitions" (Exhibition/ 2017).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Glass Curtain Gallery
1104 S Wabash Ave, 1st Floor, Chicago, IL 60605

Event Type

Lecture, Discussion


Students, Department of Exhibitions, Performance and Student Spaces (DEPS)


Contact Name

Meg Duguid

Contact Email

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